Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

March 22, 2018

What’s New

2018 County Health Rankings.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released their annual report on the place-based factors influencing health outcomes.  Among the key findings: rural counties continue to have the highest child poverty rates, and teen birth rates are nearly twice the rate for teens in suburban counties.  RWJF will host a webinar on Tuesday, March 27 at 3:00 pm ET to discuss how these factors impact population health outcomes and evidence-based actions that can be taken.

Funding Opportunities

Grants and Loans for Renewable Energy in Rural America – April 30.  Agriculture producers and rural small businesses are eligible to apply for grants and guaranteed loans for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades.  The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds may be used for systems of hydrogen, wind or solar generation, and for energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting, insulation and replacement doors and windows.  Note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has its own definition of eligibility for rural development programs and that each state has a Rural Development Energy Coordinator to answer questions and assist with the application process.

Farmers Market Promotion Program – May 7.  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers grants to projects that assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community‐supported agriculture (CSA) programs, agritourism activities, and other direct producer‐to‐consumer market opportunities.  Eligible applicants are public and private entities, including tribal governments, agriculture cooperatives and businesses, and economic development corporations.  For rural communities with limited grocery options, farmers markets increase access to fresh, local food.

USDA Community Connect Grants – May 14.  Public, private and non-profit entities, including Federally-recognized tribal organizations, are eligible to apply for grants funding broadband deployment in rural communities lacking existing broadband service with speed of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. Grant funds may be used for construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to deploy broadband service for all residents, businesses and community facilities within the proposed funding service area.  Matching funds of at least 15% from non-federal sources are required.

CDC Funding for Opioid Overdose Prevention Research – May 15.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make awards of up to $750,000 each to public and/or private organizations, including tribal governments and entities to find interventions that will work to prevent opioid overdose.  The funding is intended to encourage collaboration of scientists from a spectrum of disciplines including public health, epidemiology, law enforcement, social work, economics, and criminal justice to perform research that can identify ways to prevent opioid overdose more effectively. Interventions can be strategies, programs, or policies.  Because the opioid epidemic continues to pose a high burden on rural communities and providers, a challenge exacerbated by lack of prevention and treatment resources, it is important to ensure that this research includes and will have a focus on rural communities. Click the “Related Documents” tab to see the full Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), and note that Letters of Intent are due on Thursday, April 12.

Tribal Colleges Extension Grant Program – June 6.  The National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide total funding of $4.3 million to tribal colleges designated as (mostly rural) 1994 Land Grant Institutions to enhance community-focused research, education and outreach.  Awards will be made to support one or more of the following Extension base program areas: agriculture; community resources and economic development; family development and resource management; 4-H and youth development; leadership and volunteer development; natural resources and environmental management; and nutrition, diet and health.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

Questions about Policy Updates? Write to

Comments Requested: USPSTF Research for Tobacco Interventions – April 11.  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has published a draft plan to research tobacco cessation for adults, including pregnant women. Input from the public on this research plan will be used to guide researchers at the Evidence-based Practice Center and, ultimately, inform the USPSTF Recommendation Statement on the topic.  Research has shown that both smoking and smokeless tobacco use are higher in rural areas of the U.S. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing the prevalence of women smoking during pregnancy was highest in the mostly rural states of West Virginia, Kentucky and Montana.

Comments Requested:  Changes to Graduate Psychology Education – April 13.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking input from the public to guide future policy and planning for the Graduate Psychology Education Program (GPE).  Administered by HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce, the GPE program provides funding to doctorate-level schools and programs to help train psychologists who will practice in underserved and rural areas.  HRSA is trying to identify training needs, issues and challenges in the delivery of behavioral health services and requests comment from current and former grant recipients, former applicants to the program, doctoral psychology schools and programs, and health care delivery sites that provide training to students in behavioral health.

Nominations: Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention – May 30. HRSA seeks broad representation of geographic areas, gender, ethnic and minority groups for the 18 members and two co-chairs of this committee that will advise federal leadership on strategies, policies, and priorities for HIV, viral hepatitis, and other STD prevention and treatment efforts.  Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that new cases of blood-borne viral infections are disproportionately impacting rural areas affected by the opioid epidemic and many new diagnoses of HIV have been found in rural and suburban areas.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Advisory Committee: Modernizing Rural Health Clinic Act Provisions – Thursday, March 22 at 2:00 pm ET.  A significant portion of the rural health care infrastructure is made up of more than 4,100 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in 44 states.  In this one-hour webinar, members of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services will discuss their recommendations made to the Secretary of HHS to enhance the RHCs.

Social Determinants for Behavioral Health – Thursday, March 22 at 2:00 pm ET.  HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce will hold part two of its Behavioral Health Equity Town Hall Webinar Series.  During the 90-minute session, behavioral health practitioners will learn about strategies and resources for reducing behavioral health disparities. Read more about social determinants of health for rural areas at the RHIhub.

Ask the Experts: Intersection of Tobacco and Opioids – Monday, April 2 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Association for State and Territorial Health Organizations (ASTHO) will host this 90-minute webinar to discuss how two issues challenging to rural areas – opioid prevention efforts and tobacco use control – are related and intersect.

Strategies for Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women – Tuesday, April 3 at 1:00 pm ET.  HHS Region 5 will host a one-hour webinar with experts from the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services to discuss their experiences with two promising approaches to treating pregnant women opioid use disorder and their babies.  A research letter published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association cites studies suggesting “the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome may be increasing rapidly in some rural states.”   For more information about this webinar, contact Amanda Waldrup in HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations at

Approaching Deadlines

CMS Invites Clinicians to Participate in MIPS Burden Study – March 23
Indian Health Service Scholarship Program – March 28
Grants for Drug-Free Communities – March 29
Tribal Health – Enhancement for Cancer Screening – March 30
MIPS Quality Data Reporting – March 31
Request for Information Regarding Patient-Reported Outcome Measures – April 1
Grants to Support Health Insurance Market in States – April 5
Native Youth Initiative – Leadership, Empowerment, Development – April 9
Grants for Treatment and Recovery for Youth and Families – April 10
Comments Requested: USPSTF Research for Tobacco Interventions – April 11
CDC Funding for Overdose Prevention Research – Letters of Intent – April 12
Comments Requested:  Changes to Graduate Psychology Education – April 13
National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program – April 23
Comments Requested: Changes to Short-Term, Limited Duration Health Insurance – April 23
Tribal-Researcher Capacity Building Grants – April 23
Grants and Loans for Renewable Energy in Rural America – April 30
Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health Scholarship – May 1
Funding to Improve Quality Payment Program Measures  – May 2
NHSC State Loan Repayment Program – May 7
USDA Community Connect Grants – May 14
CDC Funding for Opioid Overdose Prevention Research – May 15
Nominations for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) – May 15
Grants for Family Planning – May 24
Nominations: Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention – May 30
Save the Date: Rural Cancer Control Research Meeting – May 30-31
Funding for Patient-Involved Research – June 1
Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021
Drinking Water and Waste Disposal for Rural and Native Alaskan Villages – Ongoing
HIT Strategies for Patient-Reported Outcome Measures – Ongoing
HIT to Improve Health Care Quality and Outcomes – Ongoing
Community Facilities Program –  Ongoing
Summer Food Service Program – Ongoing