Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 29, 2018

What’s New

Call for Grant Reviewers.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) relies on grant reviewers to select the best programs from competitive groups of applicants.  Over the coming months, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be competing a number of programs, including the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning, and will need more reviewers than usual, particularly those with expertise in rural and mental/behavioral health.  Reviews are typically held remotely over a period of a few days and reviewers who participate and complete their assigned duties will receive an honorarium.  Learn more and register to become a potential reviewer at the link above. Registration is easy and does not commit you to serving as a reviewer.  Please consider lending your expertise to these important initiatives.

Locate HIV/AIDS Medical Providers.  HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Bureau recently launched a re-design of their HIV Testing Sites & Care Locator.  Users of the website or cell phone app will be able to search by their current location and find results for nearby testing services, housing providers, health centers and other service providers displayed on a dynamic map.  The tool uses open data from agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify nearby service providers, their contact information and directions to their location.  The CDC has shown that suburban and rural areas in certain parts of the country have seen an increase in new cases.  Preventive treatment for those who are high-risk, and proven viral suppression for HIV-infected individuals can reduce the number of new infections.

Call for Posters: Rural HIV Research and Training Conference – July 15.  Planners for the Sixth Annual Rural HIV Research and Training Conference have closed the call for abstracts and presentations, but still seek proposals for posters that will be displayed at the event.  Preference will be given to proposals that include objectives and learning outcomes that present new information and evidence-based tools to address the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They must also provide a clear explanation of how the proposal is relevant to rural populations in one of four conference tracks:  1) clinical research, 2) prevention and intervention, 3) family and community, 4) advocacy.

Funding Opportunities

Funding for Full-Service Rural Schools Program – July 13.  The U.S. Department of Education (ED) Full-Service Community Schools program supports the planning, implementation, and operation of comprehensive academic, social, and health services in high-poverty schools.  Applicants must propose to provide at least three eligible services, including “social, health, nutrition, and mental health services and supports.”  ED will prioritize proposals serving high-poverty school districts in rural areas. Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (CDC) and school-based services integration are two models by which schools can play a vital role in improving the health of rural residents.

DOT Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities – August 6.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will make 150 awards of up to $36.6 million “to assist in the financing of buses and bus facilities capital projects, including replacing, rehabilitating, purchasing or leasing buses or related equipment, and rehabilitating, purchasing, constructing or leasing bus-related facilities.”  Eligible applicants are city, state, and county governments, including federally-recognized tribal governments.  Transportation is an important social determinant of health in rural communities, allowing access to jobs, nutritious food and health care.

SAMHSA State Opioid Response Grants – August 13.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will make 59 awards to state governments for prevention, treatment and recovery efforts for opioid use disorder (OUD).  Grantees of the program will use data to identify gaps in availability of treatment by geographic, demographic and service-level terms, and use evidence-based implementation strategies “to identify which system design models will most rapidly and adequately address the gaps in their systems of care.”

SAMSHA Tribal Opioid Response Grants – August 20. In addition to the State Opioid Response Grants, SAMHSA will make 263 awards to supplement current activities for federally-recognized American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations to increase access to culturally appropriate and evidence-based treatment of OUDs.

Rural Health  Research

What Makes Physician Assistant (PA) Training Programs Successful at Training Rural PAs? In a brief just released from the Rural Health Research Gateway,  the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center surveyed physician assistant (PA) training programs across the U.S. and found that 57.1% of the responding programs considered training rural PAs to be an important program goal.  Of the rurally-oriented programs, just over half actively recruited rural students. Among the key findings: PA training programs that are successful at training PAs who choose rural practice are likely to combine a rural mission, targeted recruitment of rural students, and specific rural clinical training experiences.

Geographic Variation in Behavioral Health Providers.  In another report released by the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, researchers looked at data  to examine the supply of psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners and calculated provider-to-population ratios for each provider type.  They found that, nationally, the per capita supply of these providers was substantially lower in non-metropolitan counties than in metropolitan counties.

Policy Updates

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

Provide Feedback on Reducing Regulatory Burden for Care Coordination – August 24CMS seeks public input on how to address any undue impact and burden of the physician self-referral law (also known as the “Stark Law”); focusing in part on how the law may impede care coordination.  The Stark Law prohibits physicians from referring patients to Medicare services that the physician has a financial relationship or interest; however, these prohibitions can be a barrier to a physician’s participation in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model or other integrated delivery models of care.  Rural providers and stakeholders may share their thoughts on a variety of questions about the impact of the Stark Law, such as whether exceptions to the law are necessary to protect financial arrangements that involve integrating and coordinating care.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Addressing Childhood Obesity through a Systems Perspective – June 27-28.  HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations in Kansas City will host a two-day event, viewable online, to discuss “Factors of Health” – socioeconomic factors, physical environment, health behaviors, and health care – that influence childhood obesity.  Data show there’s a greater prevalence of childhood obesity in rural areas.

Application Assistance for Rural Opioid Response Funding – Thursday, June 28 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will hold a technical assistance webinar for applicants to the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program.  Dial-in information can be found on page (ii) in the grant program guidance.  To find the guidance, go to the page, click on the Package tab, then Preview, then “Download Instructions.” A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend.  For more information, contact

Suicide Prevention for Veterans – Thursday, June 28 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will host this two-hour event to discuss  “military culture-informed strategies that can be used to reduce access to lethal means, including poisoning and firearms, for individuals who are at high risk of suicide.”  The event is the first in a series on suicide prevention created by the SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance Center (SMVF TA Center).  According to the Veterans Administration Office of Rural Health, almost a quarter of all veterans in the United States, 4.7 million, return from active military careers to reside in rural communities.

NOSORH: Writing a Successful Application for Opioid Funding – Friday, June 29 at 2:00 pm ET.  The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) will hold a one hour and fifteen minute webinar for applicants to the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. Participants will learn steps and strategies for writing a successful application as well as other resources for opioid-targeted funding opportunities.  A recording of, and slides from, this and all previous webinars will be made available on the NOSORH website within 24 hours after the event.

Resource of the Week

Evidence-Based Toolkits for Rural Community HealthThese step-by-step guides on subjects including care coordination, health promotion and community health workers, provide resources and examples drawn from evidence-based and promising programs for rural communities.  The toolkits glean information from HRSA/FORHP-funded grant programs to showcase what works and why and are made available by NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center in collaboration with the Rural Health Information Hub.

Approaching Deadlines

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
Deadline for Hospitals EHR Hardship Exception July 1
Comments Requested: Rural Health Workgroup for Quality Measurement – July 2
Comments Requested: HRSA Burden Reduction – July 2
Comments Requested: Increasing Investment in the Healthcare Sector – July 7
Grants to Expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics – July 9
Comments Requested: Policy for Durable Medical Equipment in Rural Areas – July 9
Funding for Full-Service Rural Schools Program – July 13
Call for Posters: Rural HIV Research and Training Conference – July 15
CDC – Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) – July 16
Coordinating Research for Rural Opioid HIV Initiative Letters of Intent – July 16
Substance Use Funding for NHSC Sites – July 17
Research to Promote Health and Well-Being For Children – July 18
Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (Tribes and U.S. Territories) – July 19
Invest in Rural Transportation – July 19
Advanced Nursing Education – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Program – July 26
Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – July 30
Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas – July 30
DOT Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities – August 6
Injury Control Research Centers – August 6
CDC Funding Data Collection for Violent Death Reporting – August 7
CDC Funding to Address Obesity in High Risk Rural Areas – August 8
SAMHSA State Opioid Response Grants – August 13
Coordinating Research for Rural Opioid HIV Initiative Application – August 15
SAMSHA Tribal Opioid Response Grants – August 20
Provide Feedback on Reducing Regulatory Burden for Care Coordination – August 24
Strengthening STD Prevention – August 30
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