Expanding the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program

HRSA has\updated the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program webpage to reflect the expansion of the program to an additional 700 health centers. These health centers will have the opportunity to join the program over the next six weeks.

A list of health centers currently enrolled or invited to participate in the program is available on the HRSA website.

Join Jim for more information about funding, the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program, COVID-19 progress reporting, and more.

Tuesday, March 23
2:00-3:00 PM ET
Join the day of the session

If you prefer to join by phone: 833-568-8864.
When prompted, enter meeting/webinar ID: 160 886 4136.

National Poison Prevention Week: March 21-27
Next week is National Poison Prevention Week. HRSA’s Poison Control Program encourages everyone to learn more about the dangers of unintentional poisonings and how to take the appropriate preventive measures. When in doubt, check it out! Call Poison Help at 800-222-1222 or visit HRSA’s Poison Help website

Webinar: Financial Update – Preparing for and Succeeding Under Value-Based Reimbursement Models

Date: April 15, 2021

Time: 1:00- 2:00 PM CST

Click here to Register.

There are significant confusion and varying opinions on the potential organizational benefits of entering value-based reimbursement models. This session will explore the many potential benefits (financial and otherwise) that can be achieved under value-based reimbursement models. In addition, how to build organizational support for these programs and how to financially prepare for these opportunities will be explored.

Speaker: Ralph J. Llewellyn, CPA, CHFP, Eide Bailly, LLP.

By attending this webinar, participants will:

  • Gain an understanding of the financial challenges and opportunities under value-based reimbursement models
  • Explore educational opportunities to garner support for entering value-based reimbursement models from board members, C-suite, and organizational staff

Identify key financial areas to address in preparation for the journey to enter value-based reimbursement models


CMS: Now Accepting Applications: Primary Care First Model Cohort 2

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Request for Applications (RFA) for Cohort 2 of the Primary Care First (PCF) Model. Primary care practices in eligible regions are encouraged to apply. Practices that participate in PCF will have flexibility in terms of care delivery and the opportunity to increase practice revenue through performance-based model payments. The deadline for practice applications is April 30, 2021; the deadline for payer applications is May 28, 2021.

The PCF Model tests whether the way Medicare pays for advanced primary care—shifting from a fee-for-service to a value-based payment approach—can positively affect quality of care and reduce total Medicare expenditures. By tying performance based payment adjustments to health outcomes, the PCF Model seeks to improve advanced primary care for participating practices and patients alike.

What this means for model participants:

  • Greater independence and can tailor care delivery approaches to meet the special needs of patients,
  • The opportunity to prioritize the doctor-patient relationship, and;
  • Are supported in offering patients increased access to care, greater engagement in the decision-making process and enhanced care coordination.

Further, participating practices that focus on patients with complex chronic needs receive higher model payments for the care of these patient populations.

PCF Cohort 2 will have five performance years and is scheduled to begin in January 2022. The RFA, practice application, and more information on the PCF Model, can be accessed on the CMS Primary Care First website.

FORHP Announcements – March 18

New CDC Funding for COVID-19 Targets Underserved Communities. Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a non-competitive grant program, “National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, Including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities.” The program provides funding to improve testing capabilities and other COVID-19 response purposes. Grants will go to state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health departments.

Information Requested: NIH Improving the Mental Health of Rural People – April 15. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks input on how the National Institute of Mental Health might learn about and remedy research gaps in knowledge to address mental health disparities in rural people and communities.

Learn More About Changes to the Federal Definitions of Rural. This recording of a webinar hosted by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health explores the recent changes to the rural definition that the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) uses to determine eligibility for grants. The recording also includes discussion of proposed changes to designations set by the Census Bureau and by the Office of Management and Budget (e.g., Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Urbanized Areas) and how those relate to FORHP’s definition. The deadline to submit a comment about these changes was Friday, March 19.

COVID-19 Resources from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The agency that assists local transit authorities includes several rural examples in its list of initiatives across the country to get residents to vaccination sites. FTA’s National Center for Mobility Management also has a webinar series specific to pandemic efforts and other resources for planning transit.

CRS Report on the Digital Divide in the U.S. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate. This report describes the availability of broadband internet by state and across urban, rural, and tribal areas.

New Policy Brief: Results of a Qualitative Evaluation of the Use of CAH Cohorts for Quality Improvement Activitie

This brief reports on a qualitative evaluation of how Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) use cohorts to support quality improvement initiatives implemented by State Flex Programs (SFPs). This policy brief, Evaluation of the Use of CAH Cohorts for Quality Improvement Activities, examines:

  • How SFPs use cohorts in their Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives;
  • The benefits and challenges of utilizing CAH cohorts;
  • Opportunities to enhance the use of cohorts in Flex Program initiatives.

The Flex Monitoring Team lays out a conceptual framework to assess the cohort projects proposed by SFPs and the extent to which they are likely to contribute to improved QI performance by the participants. Successful SFP cohort initiatives actively engage CAHs in implementing a shared QI project, provide opportunities for shared learning, and establish a clear data reporting process. The findings from this study of QI cohorts can also inform efforts to use cohorts in other Flex Program areas.

Click here to view Brief.

New Rural FQHC ResoNew Rural FQHC Resourcesurces

Capital Link has just released three new resources that focus specifically on Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that serve rural communities.

Located in all 50 states and territories, rural FQHCs are the healthcare safety net in many parts of the rural US. They provide comprehensive primary care and other critical health services including dental, prenatal care, and mental and behavioral health to rural residents, including immigrants and communities of color. Rural FQHCs also often serve as major employers in their communities.

Financial Impact of COVID-19 on Rural FQHCs
A new report from Capital Link illustrates how the pandemic has financially impacted health centers that serve rural communities. Results show that the nation’s more than 608 rural FQHCs have experienced a 25% decline in patient visits between April and December 2020, as patients complied with stay-at-home orders. After taking into account federal relief funding, rural FQHCs experienced net losses of $1.1 billion. Without additional support to cover the identified shortfall through June 2021, many health centers sites will remain closed, 7,121 staff may be laid off or furloughed, and 35% of FQHCs may drain cash reserves to dangerous levels. VIEW REPORT

FQHC Roles and Opportunities Related to Rural Hospital Distress and Closure
This publication provides a high-level examination of the lived experiences of FQHCs that serve rural communities, particularly in the context of rural hospital financial distress and closure. Utilizing a recently conducted national assessment of rural FQHCs, it seeks to document health centers’ experiences with hospital distress and closure over the past five years and to evaluate the extent to which these centers have and can play an instrumental role in preserving access to care under these difficult circumstances. VIEW PUBLICATION 

Rural FQHCs Financial and Operational Performance Analysis 2016-2019
This report provides an aggregate financial and operational profile of rural FQHCs. It offers a framework for identifying the financial strengths, challenges, and benchmarks that support opportunities for rural FQHC performance improvement through an examination of multi-year trends and median results. The report also provides comparisons between rural, urban, and national performance, as well as recommended benchmarks, where available. VIEW ANALYSIS

COVID-19 Vaccine Program Expansion, Poison Prevention, and more

As part of President Biden’s commitment to ensure the nation’s underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated, this week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is announcing that an additional 700 HRSA-supported health centers will be invited to join the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. These health centers will have the opportunity to join the program over the next six weeks, increasing the total number of invited health center participants to 950.

View a list of the health centers participating in or invited to join the program.

National Poison Prevention Week raises awareness of poison prevention nationwide during the third full week of March every year. The week provides an opportunity to highlight the dangers of poisons and promote community involvement in poisoning prevention. Learn more and check out our resources to help you plan activities in your community.

Webinar: Addressing the Unique Needs of Black Women with HIV

HIV disproportionately impacts Black women in the United States, and they often face stigmas related to HIV status, gender, race, and ethnicity. In this second installment of HRSA’s Office of Women’s Health’s Women’s Health Leadership Series, speakers will:

  • Highlight data and findings from a HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau Technical Expert Panel focused on improving HIV prevention and treatment services for Black women;
  • Share stories from the perspective of the lived experience; and
  • Discuss interventions for Black women with HIV developed through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part F Special Projects of National Significance program.

Register for the webinar or reach out for more information about the Women’s Health Leadership Series.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Daily Digest Bulletin

Calendar Year 2022 Part D Models Application Overview Webinar – Tuesday, March 23rd

The Calendar Year (CY) 2022 Part D Models Application Overview Webinar will be hosted on Tuesday, March 23rd from 1:00 to 2:00 PM EDT. During this webinar, presenters will provide an overview of the Part D Senior Savings (PDSS) Model and the Part D Payment Modernization (PDM) Model and the CY 2022 application process. This session will also offer attendees an opportunity to ask follow-up questions. Click here to join or here to see more details—no advance registration is required. Please submit questions in advance by emailing the PDSS Model Mailbox at PartDSavingsModel@cms.hhs.gov, or the PDM Mailbox at PartDPaymentModel@cms.hhs.gov.

The CY 2022 PDSS Model RFA can be found (here) and applications are due by April 12, 2021 at 11:59 PM PDT.

The CY PDM Model 2022 RFA can be found (here) and applications are due by April 16, 2021 at 11:59 PM PDT.