Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 24, 2017

What’s New

Food Insecurity by County. The hunger-relief organization Feeding America has created an interactive map of county level food-insecurity rates in the United States. Food security, as defined and measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, means “access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Overall, more than 42 million people, or 13.4% of the population, were considered food-insecure in the year 2015, the last year for which data are available.  The highest rate was in Mississippi, where 21.5% are food insecure. Rates of food insecurity are generally higher in rural households than urban.

Funding Opportunities

Rural Health and Safety Education – June 30.  Land-grant colleges and universities, established to focus on agricultural and mechanical science and research, are eligible to compete for grants of up to $350,000 to implement this program supporting health education in rural communities.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest a total of $2.8 million in rural health and safety education “to promote and enhance rural health, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long run, mitigate the effects of rural poverty.”  More information about the program is available on the NIFA website.

USDA Rural Telemedicine Development – July 17. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS) seeks applicants for the 2017 Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program, providing up to $500,000 to support access to education, training, and health care resources for rural residents through telecommunications technologies. This year, RUS will prioritize $1.6 million for communication upgrades between ambulances, emergency transportation vehicles, and medical facilities. Applicants should be aware that DLT grants require a minimum 15% match, which cannot be from another federal source.

Suicide Prevention – July 18.  Health agencies with mental and behavioral health functions may apply for awards up to $700,000 to implement Zero Suicide in Health Systems.  In cooperative agreements with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), successful applicants will raise awareness of suicide, establish referral processes and work to improve care and outcomes for adults 25 and older who are at risk for suicide.  SAMHSA will hold a pre-application webinar on Friday, June 2 at 2:00 pm ET.  For more information, contact  Earlier this year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified data showing higher risk and rates of suicide in rural communities.

Funding for Children Affected by Substance Abuse – August 9. Nonprofit organizations, state and local governments and Native American tribal governments are among those eligible to form regional networks and compete for 11 awards up to $600,000 from the Administration for Children and Families to improve the well-being of children affected by substance abuse.  Applicants must have in place a collaborative network within or across state lines that include varying entities of health, child welfare, law enforcement and other entities related to child and family services.  Six awards up to $600,000 will also be made for regional partnerships supporting children affected by substance abuse in American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 17, 2017

What’s New

Updated Website for Mapping Health Trends.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have updated their interactive database providing information about health status by geographic location.  The tool collects data from multiple sources on obesity, physical activity, eating habits and other behaviors and allows the users to sort by state and topic area and customize charts and maps, which may help rural stakeholders with funding applications and policy decisions.

Barriers to Telehealth.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report showing that low uptake of telehealth services may be due to regulatory restrictions and inadequate reimbursement and payment methods.  The GAO found that Medicare, with many beneficiaries in rural areas, lags behind other federal programs in implementing telehealth services.

Resources for Cyber Security.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has issued a number of updates and resources in the wake of ransomware threats to cyber security last week.  Though there are few reports of malicious software impacting organizations in the United States, the international cyber-attack did affect computer networks of some large corporations and health systems in Europe, Asia and Australia.  The updates are provided by HHS’ Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE). As an article in the Rural Monitor explained earlier this year, rural and smaller facilities may not be targeted more, but rural facilities tend to have less training, resources, and protections in place.

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Save-the-Date Missouri Telehealth Network Training Conference

May 16, 2017

Missouri Telehealth Network Training Conference

You are invited to attend the Missouri Telehealth Network Training Conference!  We hope you will join us and learn more about telehealth and Show-Me ECHO.

Registration is now open!  For the registration form, agenda and other information, please go to

When:  September 26 & 27, 2017

Where:  Assessment Resource Center, 2800 Maguire Boulevard, Columbia, MO

If you have questions, please contact Mary Beth Schneider at or contact our office at 573.884.7958.

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 10, 2017

What’s New

National Prevention Week.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month and next week, May 14-20, communities and organizations around the country will focus on the prevention of substance use, misuse and overdose.  Rural communities have been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic and our federal partners at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have developed a toolkit to help raise awareness to the importance of mental health and getting ahead of crisis through prevention.

Funding for CARA.  Congress passed a budget last week that included full funding of $181 million for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, passed and signed into law in 2016.  CARA authorizes federal grants to state and local governments from the Departments of Justice and Health & Human Services to test new approaches to preventing and treating opioid addiction.

Mapping the Opioid Crisis.  Rural communities, families, health providers and law enforcement can see the impact of substance abuse, but various factors make it difficult to find real time data about its impact. The Center for Health Journalism has created a guide to a series of resources and data tools that can help communities develop an accurate picture of the opioid epidemic at the local level.

Report on State Telehealth Policies.  The Center for Connected Health Policy recently released its 5th annual report on telehealth laws and reimbursement policies of the 50 states and Washington, DC.  These regulations, unique to each state, affect the potential to increase telehealth capacity in rural areas lacking adequate access to health care.

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