Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Wellness Funds: Flexible Funding to Advance the Health of Communities

The accountable communities for health (ACH) model is a multi-sector, community-based partnership that brings together health care, public health, social services, and other sectors such as education and the justice system to collectively address priority health and social issues.  To promote Wellness Funds that help build ACHs, the Funders Forum on Accountable Health created this support to explain the model and provide case studies on the work of three communities, two of them rural.

New Medicare ACO Beneficiary Engagement Case Studies and Video

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a new video and case studies that provide ideas and strategies promoting value-based care in current and prospective Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  These resources highlight how ACOs can provide nonclinical support for beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD); maintain patient advisory committees to improve care for beneficiaries with ESRD; and leverage health navigators to identify and resolve care gaps for beneficiaries in rural areas.  The information can be accessed here.

New Data on Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States

The National Vital Statistics System is the oldest and most successful example of data sharing  in Public Health across all levels of government.  Among the key findings in this most recent report on drug overdose deaths, is an overall decline of 4.1 percent between 2017 and 2018.  The rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) increased by 10 percent.  Click here for more information.

Testing for HIV and TB Coinfection

In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for HIV testing that was to increase the early diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection by recommending it be a routine part of medical care. But were you aware that HIV is the most important known risk factor for the progression from latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) to TB disease? Individuals testing positive for LTBI and HIV infection that are not treated for both conditions have a high risk of progressing from LTBI to TB disease. By clicking here, you can read more on this issue from information that will be included in the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s TB Manual.

Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine Offers Discrepancy Guide for Physician Licensure Applications

The Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) offers guides to help physicians avoid common discrepancies on initial licensure and physician assistant supervising physician applications. Discrepancies delay the processing and approval of applications. The instructions outline the necessary documentation and information needed to successfully complete an application and avoid delays. Access the Discrepancy Guide for Initial Physician Licensure Applications here. Each of the professional licensure boards has an application checklist listing all of the requirements and needed documents for a licensure application to be complete.

Medicare Advantage Enrollment Burgeoning

With Open Enrollment ending March 31 for Medicare Advantage plans, Axios reports enrollment rates have increased 9.4 percent over the same time period last year.  Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all your Part A and Part B benefits. Most Medicare Advantage Plans also offer prescription drug coverage. The number of plans available in each county in Pennsylvania varies from 45 plans in Susquehanna County to 61 in Lancaster.  To view plan information by county, click here.

Did You Know? Pennsylvania Offers New Mail-In Voting Option

Pennsylvania’s April 28 primary election is still two-and-a-half months away, but it’s not too soon to start thinking about how you will vote in that election. Voters in the commonwealth now have two options for mail ballots:

  • Absentee ballot: If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot
  • Mail-in ballot: If you aren’t an absentee voter, you may apply for a mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason

In order to request either ballot type, you must be registered to vote. Visit Check Your Registration Status to review your registration information.

Capitol Hill Holds Hearings on President Trump’s FY21 Budget Request 

After releasing the President’s Budget for FY21, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar headed up to Capitol Hill to defend the health care priorities for the Administration. While the majority of the Secretary’s time in front of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees was spent explaining the Administration’s efforts on the Coronavirus, multiple rural health champions were able to share concerns about rural health programs in the budget request. Senator Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) and 2020 NRHA Rural Champion Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) all were able to press the Secretary on the importance of funding crucial rural health programs.