Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New Rural Advocacy Guide Released

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has created a comprehensive guide for rural community leaders to amplify their voices when advocating for rural. How to advocate for rural health change gives constituents the opportunity to effectively champion rural health issues by providing necessary information and tools. This resource provides details on branches of government, congressional committees, NRHA tools, and practical tips for how to get involved in advocacy efforts. Additionally, our advocacy guide includes sample letters and media advisories to accommodate your communication efforts with Congressional leaders. We hope that this document serves as an asset to your knowledge when advocating for the improvement of issues facing rural communities.

If you have any questions or would like more information or assistance, please contact NRHA’s government affairs team.

Provider Relief Fund – Phase 4 Payments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is making more than $2 billion in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 7,600 providers across the country this week. With this funding, more than $18 billion will have been distributed from the Provider Relief Fund and the American Rescue Plan Rural provider funding in the last three months.

These payments come on the heels of the nearly $9 billion in funding that was already released by HHS in December 2021. With today’s announcement, a total of nearly $11 billion in PRF Phase 4 payments has now been distributed to more than 74,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five territories and approximately 82 percent of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed.

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Primary Care Migraine

The National Headache Foundation (NHF) launched Primary Care Migraine, a new educational training program available at no cost to health practitioners. The course also offers a diagnosis tool to assist in quickly diagnosing migraines while interviewing and examining patients.

Medicaid Enrollments Increased 17% During the Public Health Emergency

The December Medicaid enrollment count has reached 3,430,872, up 17% since the beginning of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration in March 2020. Medicaid eligible individuals did not lose coverage due to Maintenance of Effort provisions, but approximately 400,000 individuals stand to lose Medicaid eligibility when the PHE declaration is lifted or expires. Health centers nationwide expect to provide enrollment assistance to patients needing help enrolling in marketplaces at the end of the Public Health Emergency.

Final Pennie Enrollment Numbers for Open Enrollment in Pennsylvania

Pennie ended Open Enrollment with 374,776 enrollments, an 11% increase over the 2021 Open Enrollment period, which was seven days longer, ending on January 22, 2021. More than 50,000 applications were deemed potentially eligible for Medicaid and thus transferred to the Department of Human Services for processing. Consumer metal level selections increased in the Gold level by about 11%. This is due in part to additional savings from the American Rescue Plan. More than 3,000 health insurance enrollments were attributed to assisters. New this year were stats reflecting Dental enrollments, which showed that 9% of all dental enrollments were stand-alone plans out of the 87,701 total enrollments. The seven 2022 dental insurers were Best, Capital Blue Cross, Delta Dental, DentaQuest, Dominion, EMI Health and Guardian. To view more metrics and information, click here for the Pennie Board slides and meeting recordings.

Little Progress on Key Legislation

As negotiations on the Build Back Better Act remained stalled, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) canceled this week’s recess to continue to focus on voting rights legislation. However, as Senators Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) opposition to changes to the filibuster has not waivered, voting rights reform cannot pass. Last week, top appropriators met to discuss government funding as the Feb. 18, 2022, deadline to pass another continuing resolution or an omnibus appropriations bill approaches. While lawmakers are negotiating an omnibus appropriations bill, including supplemental funding to address the ongoing pandemic, a short-term continuing resolution would give Congress more time to work on the legislation.

Pennsylvania House Republication Policy Committee Holds Rural Health Hearing

The Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee hosted a public hearing this week to discuss rural health care challenges and proposed solutions. The goal of the hearing was two-fold: to gain greater insights into the challenges facing rural health care facilities and discuss potential policy solutions to ensure rural residents have affordable and accessible care when they need it. The virtual hearing featured testimony from hospital administrators, including those from UPMC Kane, UPMC Cole, Warren General Hospital and Kaleida Health; area health care providers; and rural health care advocacy organizations. Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter also testified. Click here to watch the hearing and read the written testimony.

Repeal or Retool? States Assess Certificate of Need Laws

Certificate of Need (CON) laws are state regulatory mechanisms for approving major capital expenditures and projects for certain health care facilities. In a state with a CON program, a state health planning agency or other entity must review and approve projects like establishing a new health care facility or expanding a facility’s health service capacity in a specified area. CON programs primarily aim to control health care costs by restricting duplicative services and determining whether new capital expenditures meet a community need.

Click here for more information and to access an interactive map of all 50 states.