Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Request for Information Regarding Maternal and Infant Health Care in Rural Communities 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seek public comments regarding rural maternal health care. Specifically, the CMS Office of Minority Health is seeking information related to opportunities to improve health care access, quality, and outcomes for women and infants in rural communities, before, during, and after pregnancy. This includes the reduction of maternal health disparities across this timeframe between rural and urban communities, within rural communities, and racial and ethnic disparities within rural communities. This notice also seeks public comments regarding readiness of rural providers, including emergency medical services to handle obstetric emergencies (i.e., emergencies related to pregnancy, birth, and after birth) in rural areas.  Comments are due on April 12 and can be submitted here.

ERS:  Rural Poverty and Well-Being

The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated their topic page on the factors that affect the poverty status of rural residents.  The ERS uses Census data to track poverty over time, analyze the severity and persistence of poverty over decades, and provide a rural/urban breakdown by race, family structure and age.  Read more here.

Pennsylvania Prison Suicides are at an All-time High. Families Blame “Reprehensible” Mental Health Care

NIOSH News Flash! COVID-19 Update

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and continues to spread in China. COVID-19 illnesses are being reported in a growing number of international locations. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation and CDC will provide updated information as it becomes available on the CDC COVID-19 website.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a webpage to highlight resources available for the protection of workers: This page provides a centralized resource for new guidance and recommendations produced during CDC’s COVID-19 response, as well as pre-existing resources and materials, to promote the safety and health of workers.

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Programs: The application cycle is open!

National Health Service Corps
Loan Repayment Programs

The application cycle is open!

Accepting applications through
Thursday, April 23, 7:30 p.m. ET

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) opened its application for three loan repayment programs: the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program and the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program.

Find which one is right for you:NHSC All Loan Repayment Programs ComparisonVisit the NHSC website to review the Application and Program Guidance (APG) documents and learn more about eligibility and specific disciplines. Each program has a different APG with the detailed information you need to apply, including eligibility requirements, site information, documentation, and service requirements. Read the APG carefully before you start your application.

Apply Here!

Get Connected with Mental Health & Substance Use Resources in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has released resources for those experience mental health and substance use issues in Pennsylvania.  See below for information and links.

Suicide Prevention

Suicide claims the lives of over 2,000 Pennsylvanians each year, according to the latest CDC statistics. At the time of their deaths, the majority of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. Medication and therapy can be very effective in treating depression.

Visit Prevent Suicide PA’s website to take a screening to see if you are at risk, learn warning signs, and find out how you can help.  If you’re thinking about suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health Crisis Intervention 

Mental Health Crisis Intervention Services provides emergency mental health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are accessible to any individual in the community who may need such resources. All individuals in Pennsylvania may utilize the public behavioral health system during a crisis situation regardless of socio-economic status, health insurance coverage, or history of established connections to the behavioral health service delivery system.

Crisis Intervention Services may include: 24/7 telephone crisis service, walk-in crisis service, mobile crisis service, medical-mobile crisis service, and crisis residential service. Crisis services are to provide intervention, assessment, counseling, screening, and disposition. Contact a Mental Health Crisis Intervention Service.

Get Help Now

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has resources available 24/7 for those in need. If you need assistance in finding a treatment provider or funding for addiction treatment, please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or contact your county drug and alcohol office by using the county services provider searchIf someone has taken drugs and becomes unresponsive, call 911 immediately. 


The online DART Tool helps people identify drug and alcohol services and supports for themselves or a loved one based on your responses to questions. The DART tool provides resources based on a person’s age, county of residence, and veteran status. A list of resources is also provided if a person is experiencing homelessness, has issues with transportation to treatment or has legal concerns, as well as programs that may be available depending on a person’s income. The tool does not evaluate eligibility for resources provided but refers users to how they can obtain information or assess their eligibility.

Trump’s Medicaid Chief Labels Medicaid ‘Mediocre.’ Is It?

Kaiser Health News, February 21, 2020

The Trump administration’s top Medicaid official has been increasingly critical of the entitlement program she has overseen for three years.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, has warned that the federal government and states need to better control spending and improve care to the 70 million people on Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the low-income population. She supports changes to Medicaid that would give states the option to receive capped annual federal funding for some enrollees instead of open-ended payouts based on enrollment and health costs. This would be a departure from how the program has operated since it began in 1965.

In an early February speech to the American Medical Association, Verma noted how changes are needed because Medicaid is one of the top two biggest expenses for states, and its costs are expected to increase 500% by 2050.

“Yet, for all that spending, health outcomes today on Medicaid are mediocre and many patients have difficulty accessing care,” she said.

Verma’s sharp comments got us wondering if Medicaid recipients were as bad off as she said. So we asked CMS what evidence it has to back up her views.

A CMS spokesperson responded by pointing us to a CMS fact sheet comparing the health status of people on Medicaid to people with private insurance and Medicare. The fact sheet, among other things, showed 43% of Medicaid enrollees report their health as excellent or very good compared with 71% of people with private insurance, 14% on Medicare and 58% who were uninsured.

The spokesperson also pointed to a 2017 report by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), a congressional advisory board, that noted: “Medicaid enrollees have more difficulty than low-income privately insured individuals in finding a doctor who accepts their insurance and making an appointment; Medicaid enrollees also have more difficulty finding a specialist physician who will treat them.”

KHN opted to look at those issues separately.

Click here for more.