Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 24, 2018

What’s New

Request for Proposals:  Outreach for COPD – June 8.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is seeking proposals for programs that increase awareness and understanding of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.  According to the COPD National Action Plan, this disease is a leading cause of death affecting 16 million Americans and millions more who do not know they have it.  COPD rates for rural areas are nearly double those for urban areas (8.2 versus 4.7 percent). Proposals will advance the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign and its aim to educate providers and patients about diagnosis and management.

Call for Abstracts:  SEARCH Telehealth Research Symposium – June 20.  The Society for Education and the Advancement of Research in Connected Health (SEARCH) is seeking abstracts for its 2018 Telehealth Research Symposium.  Submissions for podium presentations (short lecture and long lecture) and posters should focus on one or more of the following areas:  evidence-based research on connected health systems (e.g., telemedicine, telehealth, eHealth, mHealth), quality initiatives and telehealth measures, defining training programs and education, and care for seniors.  According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Math, telehealth drives volume, increases quality of care, and reduces the cost of health care for rural communities.

Funding Opportunities

CDC – Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention – June 11.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 51 awards of up to $3 million each to state governments to support evidence-based strategies for preventing and managing cardiovascular disease and diabetes in high-burden populations and communities.  Rural areas face higher rates of disease and mortality for these conditions.  The Rural Health Information Hub can provide information, resources and free customized assistance to states and localities.

Family-to-Family Health Information (DE, HI, ME, MT, NV) – June 18. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make five awards to community-based organizations, including those serving tribes, to support families of children and youth with special health care needs.  Eligibility for this funding is limited to applicants in Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, and Nevada.  HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau will also make awards under the same program for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers in the U.S. Territories to community-based organizations serving American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and to entities serving American Indian and/or Alaskan Native tribes.  The application deadline for tribes and these territories is July 19.

Faculty Loan Repayment – June 28.  HRSA’s Faculty Loan Repayment Program provides up to $40,000 to health professions teaching staff from disadvantaged backgrounds. Teaching professionals from a rural background are vital for preparing and supporting cultural competency in the future health workforce. Current faculty, or those with an employment commitment at an approved health professions institution, may be eligible to apply.

Vulnerable Rural Hospitals Assistance Program – July 16.  HRSA will fund one entity up to $800,000 to provide targeted, in-depth assistance to vulnerable rural hospitals struggling to maintain health care services with the goal for residents in those rural communities to continue to have access to essential health care. The awardee will work with individual hospitals and their communities on ways to understand community health needs and find ways to ensure hospitals and communities can keep needed care locally. If you have any questions about this program, please contact Suzanne Stack:

CDC Funding to Address Obesity in High Risk Rural Areas – August 8.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 14 awards of up to $1.2 million each for evidence-based strategies that increase access to places providing healthier foods and physical activity in rural areas with high rates of obesity.  Eligible applicants are public and state-controlled institutions of higher education.  Land Grant Universities in states with high-risk eligible counties, identified by the CDC as having an adult obesity rate of over 40%, are also eligible to apply.  These counties are listed on page 15 of the funding application guidance.  The guidance can be found by clicking the Related Documents tab on the link above.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

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

Rural Feedback Heard on New Directions for the CMS Innovation Center.   CMS has posted online the more than 1000 comments received in response to the September 2017 Request for Information (RFI) on a new direction for the Innovation Center to promote patient-centered care and test market driven reforms.  They heard from consumers, physicians, health systems, health plans, national and state associations, and community-based providers.  Rural-focused comments covered a range of topics from expanding telehealth and improving availability of care in underserved areas to expanding Medicare Advantage plan options and supporting rural physician participation in Advanced Alternative Payment Models.

CMS Encourages Eligible Suppliers to Participate in Diabetes Prevention ProgramBeginning in 2018, both traditional healthcare providers and community-based organizations, including community health workers, can enroll as Medicare suppliers in the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP), a national model offering a new approach to type 2 diabetes prevention. After achieving preliminary or full recognition through the CDC, organizations can enroll in Medicare to become an MDPP supplier on a rolling basis. Rural areas tend to have higher rates of diabetes than urban areas.

GAO Report Assesses CMS Innovation Center Performance.   The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently concluded that the CMS Innovation Center met its 2015 goal of identifying, testing, and improving health care payment and delivery models, and it partially met the goals of reducing the growth of health care costs and spreading successful practices and models.  Rural Accountable Care Organization (ACO) models, such as the ACO Investment Model, contributed to the goal of implementing new models.  The report also describes how new models are conceived and implemented, including how geographic location can be a factor in the participant selection process.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

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.

The History and Future of Rural Health Research – Monday, June 4 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Rural Health Research Center Program, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has played a critical role in providing the analysis and research that has helped inform the development of federal and state health policy.  Join FORHP staff and researchers from the oldest and newest Rural Health Research Centers in this hour-long webinar about the history and future of rural health research.

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.

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.

Resource of the Week

Help for Clinicians: Hepatitis C Warmline and Online Consultation.  The Clinician Consultation Center is a member of the HRSA AIDS Education and Training Centers Program, which provides training, continuing education, resources and learning opportunities free of charge for healthcare providers on HIV and related topics.  Services for Hepatitis C management include free clinician-to-clinician advice online or by phone on screening, diagnosing, the latest drug regimens and treatment guidelines for special populations.  Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on the increased risk of blood-borne viral infection, disproportionately affecting rural communities, as a result of opioid misuse.

Approaching Deadlines

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
Family-to-Family Health Information (DE, HI, ME, MT, NV) – June 18
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
Faculty Loan Repayment – June 28
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
CDC – Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) – July 16
Coordinating Research for Rural Opioid HIV Initiative Letters of Intent – July 16
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (Tribes and U.S. Territories) – July 19
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