Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CMS Announces New Funding for Navigators

The federal administration is continuing its robust investment in Navigators, who help people across the country – especially in underserved communities – sign up for health care coverage, by announcing today the availability of $500 million in grants over the next five years. Navigators have been incredibly effective, helping contribute to the record-breaking number of people – 21.4 million – who signed up for health care coverage through the Marketplaces during the 2024 Open Enrollment Period.

The Navigators’ effectiveness is demonstrated by how many people in underserved communities have signed up for Marketplace coverage in 2024:

  • Twenty-two percent of enrollees who report their race/ethnicity are Latino. If the percentage is the same among those not reporting, the estimated number of Latino Americans with Marketplace coverage in 2024 would be approximately five million.
  • Nine percent of enrollees who report their race/ethnicity are Black. If the percentage is the same among those not reporting, the estimated number of Black Americans with Marketplace coverage in 2024 would be almost two million.
  • About 12 percent of enrollees who report their race/ethnicity are AANHPI. If the percentage is the same among those not reporting, the estimated number of AANHPI Americans with Marketplace coverage in 2024 would be over 5 million.
  • One percent of enrollees who report their race/ethnicity are AI/AN. If the percentage is the same among those not reporting, the estimated number of AI/AN Americans with Marketplace coverage in 2024 would be 200,000.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expects to award a total of $500 million over the five-year period of performance, provided in five budget periods of 12 months each. For the first 12-month budget period, to be awarded this fall, $100 million is available, the largest investment in the Navigator program to date.

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CMS is Extending Medicaid Unwinding Data Reporting

 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued this letter to inform Medicaid agencies that CMS is extending current state reporting requirements for certain metrics contained in the Unwinding Data Report. Monthly state reporting about renewal actions occurring on or after July 1, 2024, and fair hearing requests that have been pending for more than 90 days, will continue on an ongoing basis.  CMS will continue reporting data publicly to maintain transparency into Medicaid and CHIP renewal outcomes at the national and state levels.  Medicaid is an important source of insurance coverage in rural areas.  The unwinding of the continuous Medicaid coverage provision has resulted in over 22 million enrollees being disenrolled as of May 23, 2024 and over 49 million have had their coverage renewed.

Pennsylvania Human Services Department’s Website Update in Process

In partnership with the Governor’s Office and the Commonwealth’s web development vendor, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is moving to a new public-facing website platform. Deployment of the new platform began the evening of Tuesday, May 28. This transition will only affect, and will not affect COMPASS, CWIS, PROMISe, PELICAN, or any other custom developed platforms. With a project of this size, DHS anticipates there could be some errors, potential disruptions, and growing pains. DHS is working closely with the Governor’s Office and the web development vendor and will be triaging and correcting issues as they are identified. If providers and partners experience any functional disruption, error, and/or are unable to access essential business content or services, please report them via the DHS Feedback Form under “Website Feedback” – the first option. Check your bookmarks for updates.

Using Mobile Health to Reduce Disparities in Black Maternal Health: Perspectives from Black Rural Postpartum Mothers

In a study funded by the Morehouse School of Medicine, researchers interviewed Black mothers, their support persons, and health care providers in rural Georgia to learn about their post-birth experiences.  Major discussion themes included: accessibility to health care and resources due to rurality, issues around race and perceived racism, mental health and emotional well-being in the postpartum period.

Understanding HRSA Modifications to the Definition of Rural for FORHP Grants

– Comment by May 28. On April 26th, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) announced a proposed modification to the definition of ‘rural’ used to designate eligible areas for rural health grants. Because access to needed health care is likely to be reduced when roads are most difficult to traverse, FORHP proposes to modify the definition of rural areas by integrating the new Road Ruggedness Scale (RRS) released in 2023 by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The proposed modifications are based on a data-driven methodology to identify areas with difficult mountainous terrain.  All areas included in the current definition of rural would remain included.

Reimagine Rural is Back For Season 2!

The Reimagine Rural podcast is back for a new season! Join Brookings Senior Fellow Tony Pipa for a journey into the heart of rural America, where changemakers are propelling their communities toward new opportunities and equitable prosperity.

Through illuminating conversations with local leaders, Pipa explores the transformative shifts, underlying challenges, and intricate nuances shaping rural development today. This season covers the revitalization of manufacturing, innovative approaches to housing, the expansion of broadband connectivity, and more.

🎧 Listen to episodes one and two, and follow the show on your preferred listening platform to stay updated on the latest episodes.

More about the work

Reimagine Rural is more than just a podcast; The Reimagining Rural Policy initiative at Brookings brings engaging narratives and in-depth analyses that provide a comprehensive view of the policies and trends shaping real-world rural development.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.

Free COVID-19 Tests Available for Households

The Biden-Harris Administration and Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) are committed to ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tests. ASPR is refreshing ordering on for every U.S. household to order additional tests at no charge. Households that ordered this fall can order four more tests, and those that have not ordered this fall can submit two orders for a total of eight tests. Additionally, ASPR will continue to provide over four million free COVID-19 tests per week directly to long-term care facilities, schools, community health centers, and food banks. More information on these efforts and a digital toolkit to share through your social media avenues is available at

Pennsylvania Medical School Celebrates Anniversary and Impact

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. LECOM is the largest medical school in the country where they train future doctors, pharmacists, dentists, and podiatrists. The college is the core of the nation’s only osteopathic academic health center, and LECOM maintains one of the lowest tuitions among medical schools in the country. According to the college, LECOM’s total impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2022 approached nearly $1.2 billion. Learn more.

Many Americans Can’t Afford Health Coverage

According to a new Commonwealth Fund survey, having insurance doesn’t guarantee access to affordable care. More than half of all working-age Americans reported they struggle with health care costs, and more than one of three are saddled with medical debt. The respondents to the survey represent those insured for a full year and some who spent all or part of the year uninsured. Large shares of insured working-age adults surveyed said it was very or somewhat difficult to afford their health care. Nearly two of five working-age adults reported delaying or skipping needed health care or a prescription drug in the past year because they couldn’t afford it.

Read the full article here: Paying for It: How Health Care Costs and Medical Debt Are Making Americans Sicker and Poorer