Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

KFF Launches Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker

The Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker presents the most recent data on monthly Medicaid enrollment, renewals, disenrollments, and other key indicators reported by states during the unwinding of the Medicaid continuous enrollment provision. The unwinding data are pulled from state websites, where available, and from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

To view data for specific states, click on the State Enrollment and Unwinding Data tab.

A New Advisory Warns of Social Media Impact on Youth Mental Health

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health. While social media may offer some benefits, there are ample indicators that social media can also pose a risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Social media use by young people is nearly universal, with up to 95% of young people ages 13-17 reporting using a social media platform and more than a third saying they use social media “almost constantly.” With adolescence and childhood representing a critical stage in brain development that can make young people more vulnerable to harm from social media, the Surgeon General is issuing a call for urgent action by policymakers, technology companies, researchers, families, and young people alike to gain a better understanding of the full impact of social media use, maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of social media platforms, and create safer, healthier online environments to protect children. Learn more.

Read About Recent Research on Stigma and Opioid Use Disorder

More than 450 clinicians and counselors in rural New England were surveyed about stigma as a barrier to treating patients for opioid use disorder (OUD) as well as practitioners’ beliefs about medications for OUD.  Over half (55 percent) ranked stigma as the highest barrier among other factors such as time and staffing, medication diversion, and organizational/clinic barriers. Many clinicians (60 percent) and counselors (51 percent) disagreed that medications for opioid use disorder “replace addiction to one kind of drug with another.”  But among clinicians with the ability to prescribe, there was a significant difference in this belief depending on whether they were currently treating with medications for OUD (MOUD).  More than 80 percent of those currently treating with MOUD believed it is not an addiction replacement; among those not currently treated with OUD, fewer than half felt that way.  The study was conducted by the FORHP-supported Center on Rural Addiction at the University of Vermont.

Here You Can Read About A New Focus on Hepatitis

  The White House’s budget request to Congress included an $11 billion ask to tackle the spread of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) over the next five years.  Though it’s not a crisis that’s well-known or understood, public health efforts in the last 10 years have made strides toward prevention and treatment.  Direct-acting antivirals developed less than a decade ago have been proven effective in 95 percent of the people who take a curative pill for 8 to 12 weeks.  The challenge has been getting infected persons in for diagnosis and moving them toward treatment.  For rural communities, the rise in prevalence has been labeled epidemic and closely related to injection drug use. Data show a substantial number of people are unaware they’re infected; of those with some kind of public or private insurance, only a third are actually treated.  Left untreated, HCV can lead to liver failure, cancer, and death.  The proposed federal program includes a significant push for screening and treatment – accelerating the availability of point-of-care diagnostic tests and providing broad access to medication – with a focus on populations at greatest risk for infection: Medicaid beneficiaries, justice-involved populations, people without insurance, and American Indian and Alaska Native individuals who are treated through the Indian Health Service. Also last week: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated recommendations for hepatitis B virus screening and testing.  Considered more common than HCV, hepatitis B causes more liver-related cancer and death.

Approaching Deadline for Rural HIV and Aging Challenge

 The Administration for Community Living will award $500,000 in cash prizes for innovative and effective pilot solutions that address the needs of people in rural communities who are aging with HIV. Some potential solutions may be: enhancing the capacity of community-based organizations; increasing engagement/reducing isolation for long-term survivors; or addressing social determinants of health such as transportation or access to physical activities.  Up to 10 winners may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $15,000. Because these are prize competitions, there are no reporting requirements, deliverables, or other restrictions associated with federal grants.  The participants selected to receive a prize for Phase 1, Design of Concept, may compete for Phase 2, Development of Solution. The date was extended to February 14, 2023.

New Resource: E-Cigarette Use, Vaping, and Oral Health

The CareQuest Institute for Oral Health released a new visual report, “Electronic Cigarette Use, Vaping, and Oral Health.” The report explains how individuals who use e-cigarettes are significantly more likely to report having periodontal (gum) disease compared to those who do not smoke or use other nicotine products. E-cigarette use is linked with signs of periodontal disease such as increased plaque, deeper periodontal pockets around the teeth, and bone loss.

Click here to view the report.

The Number of Uninsured Children Improved Slightly During the Pandemic

The number of uninsured children in Pennsylvania improved during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the federal continuous coverage provision that prevents states from disenrolling children and families from Medicaid during the public health emergency, according to the State of Children’s Health report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Pennsylvania’s child uninsured rate improved to 4.4% from 4.6% between 2019 and 2021 as families weathered the pandemic storm under the umbrella of public health coverage, with Medicaid enrollees having uninterrupted access to health insurance that connects them to doctor visits, immunizations, and well-visits that screen for physical and mental health. Learn more.