Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 17, 2018

What’s New

Seeking Participants from Every Background: All of Us Research Program. On May 6, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched their All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine. Precision medicine is health care that is based on you as an individual. It takes into account factors like where you live, what you do, and your family health history. By participating, rural Americans can help precision medicine bring about advances in medical science and health care that work for them.

Funding Opportunities

DOJ Funding for Opioid Crisis – June 7. The Department of Justice (DOJ) will make total funding of $34 million for approximately 45 grants to state and local governments to support needs of first responders, crime victims, and non-violent individuals who come into contact with the justice system as a result of opioid use.  The programs for this funding fall under several categories, each with differing objectives and eligibility.  See the Approaching Deadlines section below for other DOJ funding related to federal opioid response.

Evidence-Based Tele-Behavioral Health Network Program – June 25.  HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy recently announced a funding opportunity for up to 14 awards, each up to $350,000 per year, to support the use of telehealth networks to increase access to behavioral health care services in rural and frontier communities. A primary goal of this funding opportunity is to significantly contribute to the evidence base for assessing the effectiveness of tele-behavioral health care services for patients, providers, and payers. A one-hour technical assistance webinar will be held for interested applicants on Thursday, May 24 at 3:00 pm ET.  For more information and to get the dial-in number, write to Kerri Cornejo at

CDC – Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) – August 15.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 32 awards of up to $900,000 each for a five year initiative to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic populations with the highest risk, or burden, of chronic disease.  The   funding will support culturally tailored interventions to address preventable health behaviors of tobacco use, poor nutrition and physical inactivity, specifically for African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives.  Recent research shows that rural areas are becoming more diverse, and that racial and ethnic minorities fare worse in health outcomes.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: Services for Abuse of Vulnerable Adults – May 21.  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent body of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine.  They seek public comment on their draft recommendation statement and draft evidence review on screening for intimate partner violence, elder abuse, and abuse of vulnerable adults.  The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services recently examined the impact of intimate partner violence in rural America and found a ripple effect spreading to other issues such as Adverse Childhood Experiences.  See the Events section below for an upcoming webinar on a related issue, human trafficking.

Nominations: Non-Federal Members for National Clinical Care Commission – May 29. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently established the National Clinical Care Commission to consider complex metabolic or autoimmune diseases that result from insulin-related issues, which represent a significant burden to rural areas. The Commission will consist of both federal and non-federal members who will provide recommendations to the Secretary and Congress on coordination and leveraging of federal programs related to these issues.

Comments Requested: Interoperability/Data Sharing in Hospitals and CAHs – June 25.  In the Medicare Inpatient Hospital Prospective Payment proposed rule published on May 7, CMS seeks public input on whether and how to increase electronic data sharing for Medicare and Medicaid hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs).  The request for comment includes several questions of interest to rural providers and stakeholders, such as what barriers do providers face in implementing new electronic interoperability requirements and should there be exceptions from new requirements for Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT) hardship or small practices.

Comments Requested: Policy for Durable Medical Equipment in Rural Areas – July 9. CMS issued an interim final rule with comment period and estimates that this action will increase payments to providers of certain durable medical equipment (DME), such as oxygen tanks and prosthetics, in rural areas.  Under a previous rule that took effect in 2017, payment adjustment lowered payments for these DME suppliers in “non-bid” areas.  This interim final rule will, beginning on June 1, reinstate the 2016 fee schedule, which blended competitive bid rates and traditional fee schedule amounts. CMS has determined that resuming the blended payment rates will ensure continued access to these items in rural areas.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Tele-Behavioral Health Strategies for Rural Hospitals & Clinics – Thursday, May 17 at 2 p.m. ET. The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers will host a webinar that will provide a framework for the provision of behavioral health services through telehealth and discuss several clinical models for integrating tele-behavioral health services into primary care settings in rural areas.

AgriSafe: Strategies for Addressing Opioid Use in Rural Communities – Monday, May 21 at 2:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network presents this one-hour presentation to describe state and local efforts and to analyze data on the prevalence of opioid use in rural and urban settings.  The session will feature John Gale of the Maine Rural Health Research Center who will discuss interviews with state-level officials on promising practices.

Tribal Consultation/Listening Session on the Opioid Crisis in Indian Country – May 21-22. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Indian Health Service (IHS), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will host a two-day Tribal consultation that will bring together federal and Tribal representatives to seek input and discuss federal efforts to address the opioid epidemic’s impact among Tribal communities.

Enhancing Tele-SUD Treatment in Rural Areas – Tuesday, May 22 at 1:00 pm ET.  The SAMSHA/HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) is a national resource for technical assistance on the integration of behavioral and primary health care.  This hour-long session is a roundtable discussion about tele modalities for treatment of substance use disorder (SUD).  Speakers will include Kurt Snyder of the Heartview Foundation and Jay Ostrowski of Behavioral Health Innovation.  Send questions ahead of the session to if you would like them addressed during the discussion.

Rural Health Clinics Technical Assistance Webinar – Tuesday, May 22 at 2:00 pm ET.  This webinar will focus on the newly released Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) Cards.  During the webinar, Dr. Eugene Freund, the CMS lead on provider-education for this initiative will discuss and answer questions related to what to expect as an RHC, the roll-out schedule for the issuance of the new ID identification numbers, what you should be communicating to your Medicare patients and how you can obtain the new MBIs for your Medicare patients.

Telemedicine 101 for Tribal Organizations Tuesday May 22, 2018 at 2:00pm ET. This hour-long webinar will provide basic information on the implementation and practice of telemedicine for tribal organizations. HRSA’s Region 9, FORHP’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, and the HRSA-Funded Southwest Telehealth Resource Center have identified a need to develop a webinar that will provide tribal organizations with an opportunity to learn about telemedicine, the benefits to tribal healthcare practitioners and patients, and resources available to those who want to get involved.

Modernizing Health Professional Shortage Area Designation – Wednesday, May 23 at 1:00 pm ET. HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce will host this 90-minute webinar about the ongoing effort to create greater transparency and accountability in the process that determines Health Professional Shortage Areas and other shortage designations that determine federal program eligibility for rural and underserved areas.

Human Trafficking: A Rural Perspective – Thursday, May 24 at 3:00 pm ET.  Attendees at this 90-minute webinar hosted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the American Institutes for Research will learn about data on the prevalence of human trafficking in rural communities, risk factors and indicators, and evidence-based and promising prevention and intervention programs and practices.

Northeast Telehealth Resource Center Regional Conference – June 5-6.  The HRSA-funded Northeast Telehealth Resource Center is hosting a two-day conference in Portland, Maine features regional and national telehealth leaders and seventeen breakout sessions on topics including strategies for planning and sustaining telehealth programs, telehealth for FQHCs, models for serving vulnerable populations through telehealth, a hands-on technology lab with the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center, and more.

Rural Health Journalism Workshop – Friday, June 8.  The Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) will host this all-day event to help writers better understand current challenges to rural health and policy.  Running from 7:30 am to 4:20 pm in Raleigh, North Carolina, the program agenda features policy and research experts on hospital closures, behavioral health, the opioid epidemic, rural health workforce and telemedicine.  Attendance is free for AHCJ members, but registration is required.  The organization sets a May 23rd deadline for travel stipend requests.

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

Improve Rural Youth Literacy – May 18
Letters of Intent for Preventing Rural Teen Pregnancy – May 21
Comments Requested: Services for Abuse of Vulnerable Adults – May 21
Comments Requested: CMS Proposal Reducing State Medicaid Reporting Burden – May 22
Stipend Requests for Rural Health Journalism Workshop – May 23
USDA Rural Health and Safety Education Grants – May 24
Grants for Family Planning – May 24
Comments Requested: Direct Provider Contracting in Medicare and Medicaid – May 25
AHRQ Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grant – May 26
Nominations: Non-Federal Members for National Clinical Care Commission – May 29
Community Building for Rural and Native Americans, Letters of Interest – May 29
HCOP Funding for Health Professions Schools – May 29
Nominations: Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention – May 30
Comments Requested: EMS Agenda 2050 – May 31
Save the Date: Rural Cancer Control Research Meeting – May 30-31
Funding for Patient-Involved Research – June 1
Wellness and Resilience for AI/AN Children – June 4
Grants for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Programs – June 4
DOJ Funding for Drug Courts – June 5
DOJ Funding for Opioid Crisis – June 7
CDC Funding for Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke – June 11
NURSE Corps Scholarship Program – June 14
Director Training for Rural Residency Programs – June 15
Resources for Tribal Self Governance Planning – June 17
Resources for Tribal Self Governance Negotiation – June 17
State Initiative for Child Abuse and Neglect – June 18
Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program – June 22
Evidence-Based Tele-Behavioral Health Network Program – June 25
Comments Requested: Interoperability/Data Sharing in Hospitals and CAHs – June 25
CDC Health Promotion Research Centers – June 25
Comments Requested: CMS Updates Payment and Policy for Hospitals – June 25
Comments Requested: Policy Updates to Medicare Hospice – June 26
Comments Requested: Policy Updates to Psychiatric Facilities – June 26
Comments Requested: Policy Updates for Rehabilitation Facilities – June 26
Comments Requested: Policy Updates for Skilled Nursing Facilities – June 26
Preventing Rural Teen Pregnancy – June 29
CMS Annual Call for Medicare EHR Incentive Program Measures  – June 29
Rural Health Care Telecommunications Program – June 29
Comments Requested: HRSA Burden Reduction – July 2
Comments Requested: Policy for Durable Medical Equipment in Rural Areas – July 9
Coordinating Research for Rural Opioid HIV Initiative Letters of Intent – July 16
Invest in Rural Transportation – July 19
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 – 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