Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

A Recent Study Finds That Diversity Efforts Need to Target Medical Debt

Black medical trainees were far more likely to carry a heavier debt burden than their peers in other racial and ethnic groups, a study published yesterday in Health Affairs found. Differences In Debt Among Postgraduate Medical Residents By Self-Designated Race And Ethnicity, 2014–19 finds that efforts to diversify the healthcare workforce — which has been tied to improved patient care and outcomes — have fallen short, even as recognition of the merits grows. Among the most intractable hurdles are the costs of medical school, including the add-on expenses. The study was led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and researchers examined the association between race and debt among roughly 121,000 medical residents between 2014 and 2019. “Scholarships, debt relief, and financial guidance should be explored to improve diversity and inclusion in medicine across specialties,” the authors write.

The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program Now Accepting Applications

Would you like help to pay off your loans? The Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program provides loan repayment to nurses in exchange for a minimum two-year full-time service commitment, at an eligible healthcare facility with a critical shortage of nurses or an eligible school of nursing. Community Health Centers automatically qualify as sites for Nurse Corps. To be eligible you must be a licensed registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, such as a nurse practitioner; or nurse faculty member and you received your nursing education from an accredited school of nursing located in a U.S. state or territory. You must also work full-time in either: an eligible critical shortage facility in a high-need area; or an eligible school of nursing. Applications will be accepted through Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 pm. For more information review the Fact Sheet and read the Application & Program Guidance. Application assistance webinars will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 from 2:00-3:30 pm via Zoom and Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2:00-3:30 pm via Zoom.

A New Report Concludes That the U.S. Needs More People

The U.S. needs more people, whether through Americans having more babies or more immigrants settling in this country, a new report, “Economic Policy in a More Uncertain World,” concludes. The report from an arm of the Aspen Institute led by two former Treasury Secretaries avers that failure to increase the U.S. population is among the biggest economic risks for the years and decades ahead. For much of the 21st century, a lack of adequate demand has been a predominant challenge, but now the central challenge is supply: improving the ability of the economy to make stuff. Worsening demographic trends imply persistent labor shortages, slumping growth, and struggles to fund Social Security and other retirement programs. The U.S. fertility rate has fallen sharply since 2007 and is well below the “replacement rate” that implies a steady population, in the absence of immigration. The “total fertility rate,” the average number of children born to a woman over her lifetime, was 2.12 in 2007 and dropped down to 1.65 in 2021, the lowest ever recorded in the U.S.

Census Releases Updated List of Urban Areas

Last week, the Census Bureau released the official list of urban areas (UA) which includes definition changes to urbanized areas made Spring of 2022. The data is used to define rural areas for multiple programs, including Rural Health Clinic eligibility. The release of the UA files will allow organizations to start calculating updated rural definitions with 2020 Census data. All places with urban land use meeting the Census criteria are now delineated as UAs. All other places are rural when using the Census definition. See the December Federal Register Notice for more information on the UA changes for the 2020 Census.

CMS Issues a Report on Access to Coverage and Care in Medicaid

In early 2022, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a request for information requesting feedback from stakeholders about healthcare access in Medicaid and CHIP including enrollment in coverage; maintaining coverage; and access to services and supports. This information is to inform a CMS strategy on equitable access in Medicaid and CHIP for all care delivery systems. A summary of the findings can be found on the Medicaid webpage and the full report here.

New Changes to Medicare Enrollment Rules Start on January 1

Effective January 1, 2023, changes to simplify Medicare enrollment and reduce gaps in coverage took effect. The changes were signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule on Oct. 28, 2022, to implement key provisions of this law. Click here to learn more.

The Health Insurance Marketplace had Record-Breaking Enrollment

With the end of the Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period coming on Jan. 15 for most states, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates nearly 16 million people have signed up for coverage. This is a 13% increase over last year, which includes more than three million people new to Marketplaces. As of December 30, 359,835 customers enrolled in Pennie with 49,366 of those enrollments completed by new customers.