Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HHS Distributing $1.75 Billion in Provider Relief Fund Payments to Health Care Providers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), today announced more than $1.75 billion in Provider Relief Fund payments to 3,680 providers across the country. With this disbursement, HRSA has distributed approximately $13.5 billion from the Provider Relief Fund to nearly 86,000 and nearly $7.5 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural payments to more than 44,000 providers since November 2021.

“Health care providers have been tireless in protecting their communities and working to maintain access to health services during the pandemic,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Provider Relief Fund resources continue to make it possible for providers to recruit and retain key personnel, implement safety measures, and keep their doors open to care for their patients.”

In September of 2021, HHS opened applications for $25.5 billion in COVID-19 provider funding. With this latest round of payments, nearly $21 billion of this funding has been distributed. Phase 4 payments reimburse smaller providers for a higher percentage of losses during the pandemic and include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicare beneficiaries.

Providers can use Provider Relief Fund payments received in the first half of 2022 to cover losses and expenses until June 30, 2023. With these latest payments, approximately 92 percent of all Phase 4 applications have been processed. Remaining applications require additional manual review and HRSA is working to process them as quickly as possible.

Provider Relief Fund payments have played an important role in the national response to COVID-19, helping health care providers prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. Health care providers can use the payments for a variety of COVID-related expenses. These include maintaining access to care for patients by addressing workforce challenges through recruitment and retention efforts (PDF).

View a state-by-state breakdown of all Phase 4 payments disbursed to date.

View a state-by-state breakdown of all ARP Rural payments disbursed to date.

As individual providers agree to the terms and conditions of Phase 4 payments, it will be reflected on the public dataset.

For additional information, visit www.hrsa.gov/provider-relief.

PREVENT Pandemics Act is Approved by Senate HELP Committee

The Senate HELP Committee passed the bipartisan pandemic bill, including a permanent extension of Federal Tort Claims Act Coverage for Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals.  Statutory authority for the Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals (VHP) Program is currently due to sunset on October 1, 2022. Previously issued VHP Notices of Deeming Action (NDA) are being amended to expressly reflect this statutory sunset date. Future VHP Notices of Deeming Action for the calendar year 2022 also will reflect the statutory sunset date of September 30, 2022. Absent legislative action to continue the program beyond the statutory sunset date, HRSA will not accept VHP deeming applications submitted after May 9, 2022.

UPMC and Harrisburg University to Open Nursing School

The Harrisburg branch of the UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing is partnering with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to open a branch this fall in downtown Harrisburg. The branch will offer an accelerated 16-month program to train registered nurses. Students will take non-nursing courses at Harrisburg U, take nursing courses from UPMC faculty, and do clinical rotations at UPMC Harrisburg and other UPMC facilities in the region. The program, which is open to the public, is expected to start with 200 students. Find more information here.

Registration Open for NACHC Training for New Clinical Directors

Registration is open for the upcoming virtual Training for New Clinical Directors. Join the next training March 8-10 to boost your career and elevate your leadership development. This training provides the core knowledge and addresses the core competencies that all health center Clinical Directors need to function as effective managers, leaders, and advocates for their health centers and communities. The comprehensive course package includes interactive learning, small group case study discussions, peer networking, follow-up resources, and a coaching program. Receive up to 11.5 elective CMECs from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) or CDECs from the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA). For more information contact Katja Laepke at klaepke@nachc.com.

Keynote Speaker Confirmed for PA Rural Recruitment Summit

David Schmitz, MD, the director of the University of North Dakota Family Medicine Residency and one of the creators of the Community Apgar Project, will be the keynote speaker for the Pennsylvania Rural Recruitment Summit. Co-sponsored by PACHC, the summit is happening April 20, 2022, at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College. Dr. Schmitz will speak about how communities can identify strengths and challenges related to recruiting critical healthcare professionals like family medicine physicians. The summit will bring together healthcare entities, clinicians, statewide organizations, and community leaders to listen and learn, together finding a path forward to ensure access to high quality and high value health care for rural Pennsylvanians. Registration is now open. Cost is $100 per person. You are encouraged to bring along leaders from your community. Contact Judd Mellinger-Blouch to find out about how you can encourage community leaders to attend, including a special discount arrangement.

Hamilton Health Center Chief Medical Officer Serves as Role Model

PennLive is following up their report on the historic increase in Black students in medical school and why that’s important with a series of profiles of Black health care professionals in central Pennsylvania who have paved the way and now serve as role models for future doctors and nurses. Dr. Bolanle Limann, chief medical officer for Harrisburg-based Hamilton Health Center, is the subject of the first profile in the series. Dr. Limann oversees clinical operations for the health center’s six locations in Dauphin and Perry counties, bringing to bear both her skills as a physician and her knowledge of business. Read more.

Child Care Costs Exceed College Tuition in 34 States

The annual expense of child care for an infant exceeds the annual cost of in-state tuition at a public four-year university in 34 states, according to the most recent data from the Economic Policy Institute. The cost of child care can be a key influencer in decisions about entering or leaving the workforce, and especially in health care where women make up the majority of the front-line workforce (66%) and managers (59%), according to research from McKinsey. In Pennsylvania, infant care costs as a share of public college tuition are 81.5%. Average annual cost of infant care is $11,842, while Pennsylvania’s in-state tuition for four-year public college is $14,534, one of the highest tuition rates in the country. Infant care costs as a share of median family income is 17.5% with a median family income: $67,828.

Looking for Vendor Resources and Savings?

As an extension of PACHC’s benefits to health centers, we partner with Commonwealth Group Purchasing (CPG), a group purchasing organization developed by and for Community Health Centers. CPG provides vetted vendors and cost savings leveraged through group purchasing. There is a no-obligation service to help you assess your current purchasing from medical and business suppliers to current needs in telehealth and recruitment solutions. To learn more, click here or contact Julie Korick, PACHC Chief Operations and Finance Officer

Guide to Support Ambulatory Care

The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) has created a guide to support ambulatory care settings of all types in the design and implementation of successful Patient-Generated Health Data (PGHD) programs. The guide is organized into six folios that help ambulatory care practices navigate the many steps from design, to launch, to maintenance of a successful, sustainable PGHD program. Learn more and access the guide. AHRQ will also be offering a webinar, Transforming Health Care Through Patient-Generated Health Data Integration, on Feb. 22, at 1:00 pm. Learn more and register