Geographic Direct Contracting: A Powerful Opportunity for Population Health

The Geographic Direct Contracting Model is designed to achieve a key goal of value-based care: to ensure that every beneficiary has an entity accountable for their health care cost and quality.  Health is local, and for a participant to be successful in Geo, it will need to impact the health of Medicare beneficiaries who reside in the region it serves — not just through traditional medical services, but through active outreach to populations currently disconnected from care and through integration with community, social, and public health services. 

By making geography the unit of change, and by enabling care transformation for entire communities, the Geo Model can greatly improve the quality of healthcare delivered to the people within it.

Read more from Dawn Alley, PhD, Spencer Carrucciu, and Pauline Lapin on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog. For more information, see the Geographic Direct Contracting webpage.

HHS Invests $8 Million to Address Gaps in Rural Telehealth through the Telehealth Broadband Pilot Program

January 11, 2021

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $8 million to fund the Telehealth Broadband Pilot (TBP) program. The TBP program assesses the broadband capacity available to rural health care providers and patient communities to improve their access to telehealth services.

“HHS has made it a priority to transform rural healthcare, including through innovations like telehealth, where we’ve seen many years’ worth of progress in just the past year,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “As someone who hails from rural America, supporting delivery of care in the most remote parts of America, like Alaska, is a personal passion of mine, and telehealth is a crucial part of that work. This telehealth pilot program is part of the Rural Action Plan that HHS launched this past year, which lays out a path forward to coordinate agency efforts to transform and improve rural health care in tangible ways.”

Through the new program, $6.5 million was awarded to the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center (TTAC), based out of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. The TTAC works in the area of technology assessment and selecting appropriate technologies for a variety of telehealth services. TTAC will implement the TBP in four state community locations, including Alaska, Michigan, Texas and West Virginia. TTAC will also work with the Rural Telehealth Initiative’s federal partners to improve rural communities’ access to broadband and telehealth services through existing funding opportunities and grant programs.

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) also awarded the Telehealth-Focused Rural Health Research Center through the University of Arkansas $1.5 million to evaluate the TBP program across all participating communities and to serve as a resource on telehealth for rural communities around the nation.

“We are excited to collaborate on this pilot program that will identify rural communities’ access to broadband to improve their ability to use telehealth services,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “HRSA remains dedicated to helping rural communities build the capabilities to improve access to quality health care.”

The TBP program is a three-year pilot and the result of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed on September 1, 2020 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The memorandum also created the Rural Telehealth Initiative, a cross cutting, multi-department initiative that coordinates programs to expand broadband capacity and increase telehealth access to improve health care in rural America.

For more information about telehealth, visit HHS’s Telehealth Website, HRSA’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, and Telehealth Resource Centers pages.

January MBQIP Monthly

MBQIP Monthly is an e-newsletter that highlights current information about the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) and provides critical access hospitals (CAHs) information and support for quality reporting and improvement. MBQIP Monthly is produced through the Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance program by Stratis Health.

Current Issue:  MBQIP Monthly January 2021

    • CAHs Can! Quality Time: Sharing PIE Mentors Answer Your Burning Questions
    • Data: CAHs Measure Up – Monitoring HCAHPS Performance
    • Tips: Robyn Quips – Data Submission Update
    • Tools and Resources – Helping CAHs succeed in quality reporting & improvement

FREE Learning Collaboratives – Apply Now

Learning Collaboratives are 4-month participatory learning experiences offered by the National Health Center Training and Technical Assistance Partners (NTTAP), funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, and hosted by Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) in Middletown, CT.

  • Implementing Postgraduate Residency Training Programs Learning Collaborative: Applications due February 11
    • The Collaborative is designed to take Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) from planning to implementation of a residency program. APPLY HERE.
  • Advancing Team Based Care Learning Collaborative: Applications due February 11
    • The Collaborative is designed to provide transformational strategies and coaching support to help primary care practices in FQHCs advance their models of team-based care. APPLY HERE.

For more information, please contact or visit the website at:

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

January 14, 2021

HRSA Evidence-Based Telehealth Grant Program – Applications due April 2.  The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making up to 14 new awards through the Evidence Based Telehealth Network Grant Program.  Each awardee will receive up to $350,000 annually.  The goals of this program are to demonstrate how health care systems can increase access to health care services utilizing Direct to Consumer Telehealth technologies and to conduct evaluations of those efforts to establish an evidence base for assessing the effectiveness of Direct to Consumer telehealth care for patients, providers, and payers.  Eligible applicants are domestic public or private, non-profit or for-profit entities with demonstrated experience utilizing telehealth technologies to serve rural underserved populations.

HHS Invests $8 Million to Address Gaps in Rural Telehealth.  On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) made awards for the Telehealth Broadband Pilot, a new program to assess the broadband capacity available to rural communities.

Nationwide Study Shows Rise in Opioid Affected Births.  A new study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that mothers with opioid-related diagnoses documented at delivery increased by 131 percent from 2010 to 2017.  Rural, White, and Medicaid populations continue to have the highest rates of maternal opioid-related diagnoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

HHS Renews Public Health Emergency. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for an additional 90 days, effective January 21, 2021. 

Comments Requested: FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program – January 19. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received $249.95 million in new appropriations to fund a second round of the Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.  This program started last spring with a $200M appropriation in the CARES Act.  The Commission seeks public comment by Tuesday, January 19 on planning Round 2, such as priorities and metrics for awardee selection and how to streamline selection administration.  Details of the solicitation and comment filing process are in the FCC’s official request for information

RAND: How COVID-19 Has Affected Family Caregiving.  The RAND Corporation is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that researches and analyzes public policy.  In this report, RAND makes the case for integrating family caregivers into the health care team and highlights several solutions for accomplishing this goal.

CMS Unleashes Innovation to Ensure our Nation’s Seniors Have Access to the Latest Advancements

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that propels innovative technology so Medicare beneficiaries have access to the latest, most advanced devices. This action represents a step forward that will help smooth the Medicare coverage pathway for innovative products, resulting in faster access to new devices for America’s seniors. This action delivers on CMS’s Unleashing Innovation and Patients Over Paperwork Initiative.

For additional details, please read the full press release.