Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 12, 2018

What’s New

Rural Communities Opioid Response Funding Opportunity – Coming Soon.  HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy plans to award up to 75 grants to rural communities as part of a new Rural Communities Opioid Response initiative that will support treatment for, and prevention of, substance use disorder with a focus on the 220 counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at risk, as well as other high risk rural communities.  Successful awardees will receive $200,000 for one year to partner with at least three other entities and develop plans to implement opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations.  It is anticipated the Notice of Funding Opportunity will be available on later this Spring 2018.  Please note that the process for registering for federal grants can take up to 30 days to complete. Learn more about how HRSA is addressing the opioid crisis with funding, resources and technical assistance.

Funding Opportunities

Funding for Inclusive Transit Systems – May 4.  This demonstration project funded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and managed in part by the Federal Transit Administration will grant up to $35,000 to as many as 20 organizations to develop local transit in which people with disabilities, older adults, and caregivers actively participate in both advisory and decision-making capacities. Lack of transportation is a primary barrier to health care access in rural areas, particularly for people with other social and economic disadvantages.  The ACL has developed an Inclusive Transit Planning Toolkit that introduces how inclusive practices can improve community transportation efforts.

Department of Labor Re-entry Projects – May 4.  The Department of Labor (DOL) will make 35 awards of up to $4.5 million each for locally-customized projects that help adults and young adults re-enter community life after incarceration.  Eligible applicants are community or faith-based organizations with 501 (c)(3) non-profit status, including women’s and minority organizations, state or local governments,  or any Indian and Native American entity eligible for grants under section 166 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  Grantees will assist communities in planning and implementing evidence-based re-entry programs to address the full range of challenges to re-entry, including job training, substance abuse and mental health needs, and engagement in pro-social activities.   Income and employment are significant social determinants affecting health outcomes in rural areas.

CDC Funding for Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke – June 11.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 51 awards of up to $3 million each to support state investments in evidence-based strategies to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes in populations that are disproportionately affected.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, rural areas face higher rates of chronic disease and higher related mortality rates.

CDC Health Promotion Research Centers – June 25.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest $112 million in its Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Centers.  An expected 30 awards will be made to accredited schools of osteopathy, medicine and public health for high-quality research in health promotion and disease prevention.  Each will conduct one public health prevention project using a community engagement approach to address a major cause of disease, disability, injury, or death in a population experiencing health disparities.  Recent and ongoing research reveals factors contributing to higher rates of disease, injury and death in rural areas.

Rural Health Care Telecommunications Program – June 29.  The Universal Service Fund (USF) Rural Health Care program reduces the cost of broadband connectivity for rural public or nonprofit health care providers or networks.  The fund is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) under auspices of the Federal Communications Commission.  Rural Health Care applications for Fund Year July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 must be completed by June 29, 2018.  Because applications require multiple sequential forms, applications must be underway months before June 29.  Visit the USAC website to see a calendar for filing window periods as well as training events, webinars and resources.

Injury Control Research Centers – August 6.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will invest $37.8 million for an expected nine awards to public and/or private entities, including Native American tribal governments for high quality research into prevention and control of injuries and violence.  Awardees will integrate professionals from a wide spectrum of disciplines into their research and provide technical assistance to injury and/or violence prevention programs in their geographic region.  According to FBI statistics, violent crimes in rural areas are lower than the national average, but geographic isolation means that incidents of intimate partner violence, child abuse, and violence based on social status are underreported.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

Visit the FORHP Policy page to see all recent updates and send questions to

2019 Health Insurance Marketplace Updates. CMS finalized guidance to states and insurers for administration of the American Health Benefit Exchanges (aka Marketplaces) in 2019.  The Benefits and Payment Parameters outlines increased flexibility for states to review qualified health plans, determine network adequacy standards, and operate navigator programs.  The Annual Letter to Issuers updates the technical guidance to issuers to be able to participate in Marketplaces, including application submission dates and requirements for Essential Community Providers (i.e. Rural Health Clinics, Critical Access Hospitals).  About 18 percent of consumers live in rural areas.  

New Guidance Expands Hardship Exemptions for Insurance. Under this hardship exemption guidance, rural or urban individuals who live in counties with no issuers or only one issuer will qualify for a hardship exemption from paying the penalty for not having health insurance coverage.  The guidance also allows CMS to consider a broad range of circumstances that result in consumers needing hardship exemptions.   To apply for this exemption, consumers must complete a hardship exemption application found on   Use form for exemption #14 “You had another hardship.”

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

FDA Public Meeting on Opioid Use Disorder – Tuesday, April 17 at 10:00 am ET.  Free bus transportation will be provided from locations in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia to a public meeting at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.  The FDA is interested in learning patients’ perspective on opioid use disorder and its impact on their lives.  Research in 2017 showed that the rate of overdose fatalities in rural areas has risen rapidly to a rate that’s slightly higher than urban.

Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences – Wednesday, April 18 at 1:00 pm ET.  The HRSA-SAMSHA Center for Integrated Health Solutions will host this 90-minute webcast on ways to identify children exposed to ACEs and implement trauma-informed approaches for their care.  A 2015 report from HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau found that rural children are more likely to experience certain kinds of adversity.

Application Assistance for USDA Telemedicine Grants – Thursday, April 19 at 10:00 am.  The US Department of Agriculture will host this 90-minute webinar for its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program (DLT) that helps rural communities with health-related telecommunications.  A second webinar will be held on Wednesday, April 25th.

Serving Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations – Thursday, April 19 at 2:00 pm ET.  The HHS Office of Minority Health hosts this webinar to describe benefits of National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards to advance health equity. Recent research shows that rural areas are becoming more diverse, and that racial and ethnic minorities fare worse in health outcomes.

Impact of Suicide in Rural America – Tuesday, April 24 at 2:00 pm ET.  Following its Fall 2017 meeting, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) sent a policy brief to the Secretary of HHS with a set of recommendations for addressing the issue. In this hour-long webinar, national suicide trends, federal efforts, and the Committee’s recommendations will be discussed.

National Rural Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse – June 10-14.  Registration is now open for this annual conference in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  The four-day agenda includes keynote presentations and meeting sessions on substance abuse treatment from a rural perspective.

Approaching Deadlines

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
Nominations: Advisory Council for Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria – April 30
Grants and Loans for Renewable Energy in Rural America – April 30
Highway Safety in Indian Country – May 1
Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health Scholarship – May 1
Funding to Improve Quality Payment Program Measures  – May 2
Department of Labor Re-entry Projects – May 4
Funding for Inclusive Transit Systems – May 4
NHSC State Loan Repayment Program – May 7
National Health Service Corps Scholarships – May 10
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
Comments Requested: CMS Proposal Reducing State Medicaid Reporting Burden – May 22
USDA Rural Health and Safety Education Grants – May 24
Grants for Family Planning – May 24
AHRQ Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grant – May 26
HCOP Funding for Health Professions Schools – May 29
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
Grants for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Programs – June 4
CDC Funding for Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke – June 11
Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021
Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans – Ongoing
Funding for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Projects –  Ongoing
Drinking Water and Waste Disposal for Rural and Native Alaskan Villages
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