Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

340B Program and Medicaid MCOs Update

PA Department of Human Services (DHS) 340B Workgroup members received the following communication from DHS this week regarding the 340B Program and Medicaid MCOs:

“We wanted to provide an update on the Department’s work surrounding the 340B program. We appreciate the time everyone has taken to participate in the workgroup meetings, and individual meetings, as well as sharing information and feedback between meetings.

 “CMS is currently considering a method for identifying 340B purchased drugs within the Medicare Program. As we often mirror Medicare, and to avoid duplicate work, we have decided to hold on to any decision until CMS announces the Medicare method. At that time, we will review the applicability of that process and decide how to proceed.

 “Thank you again for your engagement and feedback.”

Updates to the CMS Portal Requirements for Identity Proofing Published

The Remote Identity Proofing (RIDP) process for CMS Portal accounts will be changing this coming August. Beginning August 15th, 2023, you will be required to provide your personal information for verification, including your social security number which in the past was optional.

What data will be required from users during the Remote Identity Proofing (RIDP) process?

  • Users will need to submit the following personal information for verification:
  • Social security number (required),
  • Full legal name (First name, last name, no nicknames)
  • Current home residence
  • Primary phone number (mobile preferred)
  • Date-of-birth
  • Personal email address

Business information will not be able to be used to identity proof of an individual

Who is impacted by this?

  • New users who are creating a CMS Portal account for the first time and requesting a role (MLMS, Salesforce, etc.)
  • Existing CMS Portal account user requesting a new role

If you have questions about your account or the process, please contact

Pittsburgh’s Duquesne Medical School Receives Pre-Accreditation

Moving toward its fall 2024 launch, Duquesne University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) has received “pre-accreditation status” from the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). Because of this status, the university has begun recruiting students to the medical college and has received over 1,000 applications. (Those applications are not available to be downloaded until July.) Duquesne’s COM is committed to educating physicians with an emphasis on primary care and serving the underserved. The move to pre-accreditation status marks an important step, as it demonstrates the college has made significant progress toward its goals, having first earned candidate status in January 2022. Construction of the COM building is now well underway, senior leadership is in place, and the college’s curriculum has met COCA guidelines. Read more.

Here You Can Read About Diabetes Prevalence and Monitoring in Nonmetropolitan and Metropolitan Areas Within a Commercially Insured U.S. Population

 Compared to enrollees in metropolitan areas, enrollees living in rural areas had a 22 percent higher likelihood of having diabetes, even after controlling for factors like age and region.  The Rural and Underserved Health Research Center also examined rates of screening for hemoglobin A1c and found that the odds for testing were 14 percent lower for people living in nonmetropolitan areas.

Read How Value-Based Care Revenue is Driving Primary Care Practice Acquisitions

Big corporations are scooping up primary care practices to get access to vast numbers of patients while positioning themselves for the shift to value-based care, The New York Times reported May 8. The story cites CVS Heath’s $10.6 billion purchase of Oak Street Health, Amazon’s $3.9 billion deal for One Medical, and Optum’s employment of roughly 70,000 physicians. The companies hope to treat the more than 30 million Americans on Medicare Advantage, which the federal government is paying private payers $400 billion a year to administer.

Federal Legislators Move Language Requiring 340B Reporting

The House Energy & Commerce Committee also acted on 340B, approving HR 3290, a bill that would impose 340B reporting requirements on disproportionate share hospitals. The bill permits but does not require, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to extend these requirements to other covered entities (CEs), such as FQHCs. The committee also added and approved language requiring CEs who retain 340B savings on Medicaid MCO drugs to report the amount of these savings to HHS. This marks the first time that a Congressional committee has voted to impose 340B reporting requirements on any covered entities. The committee also approved Medicaid-related language that allows states to decide whether CEs can retain 340B savings on drugs reimbursed under Medicaid managed care – at least for in-house pharmacies.

The CDC Lacks a Rural Focus. Researchers Hope a Newly Funded Office Will Help.

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published multiple reports analyzing health disparities between rural and urban populations.

That effort pleased researchers and advocates for improving rural health because the dozen or so examinations of rural health data provided important details about the 46 million Americans who live away from the nation’s population centers. It began to fill a gap in the information used by those who study and address the issues that affect people in rural communities.

But those reports, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report rural health series, began and ended in 2017. And though the CDC has addressed rural health in other weekly reports and data briefs, the agency hasn’t examined it in such depth since.

That’s one reason rural health advocates successfully pushed for the CDC to extend its rural health focus by creating an Office of Rural Health at the agency. The office is operational as of March 2023, and advocates hope the agency will commit to rural health research and provide analyses that lead to good public health policies for rural communities.

“What we’re seeing is rural continually getting left behind,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, which urged Congress to fund the office. “They’re communities at risk, communities that may not be employing public health safety measures, and we are flying blind,” he said.

“What’s needed is an ongoing look at rural communities, their populations, to better direct both state and federal efforts to address health disparities,” he said.

Read more.

HHS Climate Pledge Reopens

 The initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services last April, asks hospitals, health systems, and other industry stakeholders to make efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase their communities’ climate resilience.  The pledge is one part of a larger HHS effort to consider the impact that climate change has on the entire country and take steps toward sustainability. A recent article in The Appalachian Voice describes the impact of climate change in rural mountain communities.  Watch a video that explains what the healthcare sector can do and sign the pledge by Wednesday, April 12 to be recognized in an Earth Day announcement.