- New Infections Accelerate in Rural America while Falling in Urban Counties
- USDA Invests $1 Billion to Improve Community Infrastructure for People Living in Rural Towns Across the Country
- HHS Distributing $2 Billion More in Provider Relief Fund Payments to Health Care Providers Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic
- NC Study Finds Three Financial Indicators that Could Predict the Closure of a Rural Hospital
- For Second Consecutive Week, Rural Counties Break Record for New Infections
- Growth in Rural Vaccination Rate Slows in Last Month
- HHS Announces Availability of $13 Million to Increase Behavioral Health Care Access in Rural Communities
- How a Rural Alabama Pharmacy Became a Frontline in the Fight Against COVID
- Vaccine Access for Kids in Rural America Can Be a Struggle
- Rural Counties Break Record for Most Covid-19 Infections in a Single Week
- Kids Who Lost Parents to COVID Deserve Help, Advocates Say
- After Starting in Metro Counties, Omicron Begins to Move into Rural Areas
- OSTP: Request for Information on Strengthening Community Health Through Technology
- New National Poll Shows Encouraging Signs of Reduced Stigma Around Farmer Mental Health
- As Covid Hits Nursing Homes' Finances, Town Residents Fight to Save Alzheimer's Facility
The MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) has created several new pocket guides by Dr. Linda Frank and their regional partners which are available for download on their website. The new topics are:
- Rapid Initiation of HIV Treatment
- HIV and Medication Assisted Treatment Centers (MAT)
- Differential Diagnosis of HIV and SARS-COV-2
- Best Practices & Tips for Clinicians Providing Care for Patients with HIV via Telehealth
- Integrating Geriatric Principles into an HIV Clinic
- Workplace Burnout Guide for Health Professionals
- Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Persons with HIV
You can also find all their other pocket guides and clinical tools here.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) issued several Health Alert Updates to reflect the most recent guidance related to COVID-19, including updates for the general population and return to work guidance for healthcare personnel.
- 616 – UPDATE: Work Restriction Issued
- 615 – 12/30/2021 – UPD – UPDATE: Isolation and Quarantine Periods for COVID-19 for the General Population
- 614 – 12/28/21 – UPD – UPDATE: Return to Work Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19
- 613 – 12/23/21 – UPD – UPDATE: COVID-19 Treatment Options
Click here for the latest DOH Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates.
A new report by a Pennsylvania legislative research agency offers many recommendations to help Pennsylvania’s nine medical schools take more steps to ease a shortage of primary care doctors in the state. The report by the Joint State Government Commission looks at the training needed to become a primary care doctor and efforts by the medical schools to promote primary care as a career choice. It examines a host of issues believed to contribute to the shortage in that practice, including student debt burden, doctor burnout and low public investment in primary care. Read the report, Medical School Impact on the Primary Care Physician Shortage.
In October, the state Senate passed SB 705 authorizing the regulation of telemedicine by professional licensing boards and providing for insurance coverage of telemedicine. Sponsored by Senator Vogel, SB 705 is now with the House of Representatives for their consideration. The bill has language that was in the previous version of the bill that led to Governor Wolf vetoing the bill last session. PACHC is not aware that any progress has been made between the House of Representatives and the Governor’s office to address the issues from last session. At this time, the House is not expected to act on this legislation. This creates a conundrum when reviewing the OMAP Telehealth Bulletin, which notes that telehealth is allowed “if permitted according to their scope of practice, licensure, or certification.” Nothing in the practice acts “permits” telehealth. The current waiver allowing for telehealth expires on March 31, 2022. There have been rumors of a possible extension of some of the waivers, such as telehealth, beyond the March 31 deadline. PACHC is working with the legislature and the administration, along with other provider groups, to try and get clarification on the future of telehealth amidst these political issues.
A new CareQuest Institute and Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) Best Practice Approach Report encourages state/territorial oral health programs and stakeholders to identify community barriers to care and consider teledentistry as part of the solution. The practical Report includes guidelines and recommendations, best practice criteria, myriad resources, and several examples of teledentistry in use across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released two reports which may be of interest to health center providers:
- HIV and Gay and Bisexual Men: Difference in Knowledge of Status, Prevention, Treatment, and Stigma Exist by Race/Ethnicity: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/hivgaybimen/
- Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Awareness of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Among HIV-Negative Heterosexually Active Adults at Increased Risk for HIV Infection: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7047a3.htm
According to new research conducted by Johns Hopkins and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 56% of American adults ages 18 to 25 are overweight or obese. Using data from a nationally representative sample of 8,015 people in that age bracket, the researchers compared average weights over the past four decades. In that time, that population’s average body mass index, a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight, had increased by 4.6 points – from 23.1 (considered normal weight) to 27.7 (considered overweight). That shifted the number of overweight young adults from about 18% in the late 1970’s to nearly 24% by 2018.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has confirmed that there will be no changes to the Physical HealthChoices managed care organization (MCO) assignments in early 2022. Results of two of the four MCO challenges to DHS’ decisions in response to the 2021 RFP process have been announced. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld on November 17, 2021, the state’s decision to deny protests filed by Aetna Better Health of Pennsylvania and Centene/Pennsylvania Health & Wellness after the two plans failed to win contracts in the state’s recent Medicaid managed care procurement. Rulings on protests from Gateway Health Plan and UnitedHealthCare have not been released publicly. Implementation of the new contracts, originally slated for January 1, 2022, have been suspended until the protests are resolved. In Behavioral HealthChoices, Magellan will change to CCBH in Delaware County effective July 1, 2022.
The list of MCO assignments are:
- BehavioralHealth MCO’s https://www.dhs.pa.gov/HealthChoices/HC-Services/Pages/BehavioralHealth-MCOs.aspx
- PhysicalHealthChoices MCO’s https://www.dhs.pa.gov/HealthChoices/HC-Services/Pages/PhysicalHealthChoices-MCOs.aspx
- CommunityHealthChoices MCO’s https://www.dhs.pa.gov/HealthChoices/HC-Services/Pages/CHC-MCOs.aspx
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a “punch list” of strategies states and the U.S. territories can adopt to maintain coverage of eligible individuals as they return to normal operations after the end of the public health emergency. The strategies are organized around seven topics areas:
- strengthening renewal processes
- updating mailing addresses
- improving consumer outreach, communication, and assistance
- promoting seamless coverage transitions
- improving coverage retention
- addressing strains on the eligibility and enrollment workforce
- enhancing oversight of eligibility and enrollment operations
In the resource, CMS also flagged strategies expected to have the biggest impact on mitigating coverage losses. https://www.medicaid.gov/state-resource-center/downloads/strategies-for-covrg-of-indiv.pdf
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Penn Center for Community Health Workers with support from the Commonwealth Fund and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership (CHAP), have published a white paper, “Critical Inputs for Successful Community Health Workers Program.” The white paper will be presented during a webinar on December 14, 2021 at 4 pm ET. Organizations employing or looking to hire Community Health Workers can learn about how to support Community Health Workers and maximize their impact. Speakers will discuss the process of developing inputs, share reactions from the field, and discuss ways to incorporate the information into current and future work.
For more information and to register for the webinar: https://ncqa-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/7816376153451/WN_6BABThWqScCdBHbB-thaLA?mc_cid=c8f998257c&mc_eid=3de0fb2a18