Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

March 22, 2017

Funding Opportunities

Summer Food Service Program – Ongoing.  Schools, local governments and public or nonprofit camps are among the organizations eligible to sponsor a site in the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), providing meals to low-income children aged 18 and younger while school is not in session.  Sponsors must be organizations fully capable of managing a food service program as they must locate sites, hire and supervise staff and volunteers, and arrange for meals to be prepared or delivered.  Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis; interested organizations should contact the SFSP agency in their state.

NHSC Scholarships – April 27.  The National Health Service Corps is accepting applications for scholarships paying tuition, fees, and a living stipend in return for a commitment to work at least 2 years at an NHSC-approved site in a medically underserved community.  Eligible applicants are students accepted and enrolled in an accredited U.S. school in one of the following primary care disciplines:  physician (MD or DO), dentist, nurse practitioner (post graduate degree with clinical practice focus), certified nurse-midwife, physician assistant.

Chronic Disease Management for Older Adults – May 12.  State and local governments, higher education institutions and Native American tribal governments are among those eligible to apply for up to $900,000 each for evidence-based programs that empower older adults and adults with disabilities to better manage their chronic conditions.

Primary/Behavioral Health Care Integration – May 17. State health agencies are eligible to apply for 11 awards of up to $2 million each from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support integrated care models for primary and behavioral health.  Successful applicants will select qualified community programs or community health centers to offer services to adults with serious mental illness and/or children with a serious emotional disturbance and co-occurring physical health conditions or chronic diseases.

Policy Updates

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HHS highlights opportunities for state flexibilities. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services highlighted opportunities for states to foster health care innovation through two letters to governors last week.  The first letter encourages states to consider applying for Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) waivers to pursue strategies for providing residents with access to high quality, affordable individual and small group health insurance, including high-risk pool/state-operated reinsurance programs. The second letter affirms the federal and state partnership to support the Medicaid  program and outlines key areas where collaboration can be improved.   Rural stakeholders, including State Offices of Rural Health, will be interested in learning more about these opportunities in the event their state decides to pursue either of them.

Comment:  New bundled payment programs delayed – April 19. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed the effective date of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) expansion and episode payment models (EPM) to improve cardiac care from March 21 to May 20. CMS also delayed the date when hospitals would be responsible for implementing these programs from July 1 to October 1. Most rural hospitals are unable to participate in the CJR or EPM models as the primary site of orthopedic surgery or heart attack care and bypass surgery, but are able to collaborate as post-acute care providers. CMS seeks public comments on the “appropriateness of this delay,” as well as its consideration to delay these implementation dates even further, perhaps until January 1, 2018.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Webinar – TODAY – Wednesday, March 22 at 1:00 pm ET. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be hosting a co-led webinar on Wednesday, March 22nd from 1-2pm EST. The webinar will provide an overview of the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Model (MDPP) expansion and the CDC Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program (DPRP), the requirements for pending and full CDC DPRP recognition, CDC recognition in the 2017 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), and next steps for organizations thinking of offering MDPP.

Application Assistance: ACO Track 1+ Model – TODAY – Wednesday, March 22 at 2:00 pm ET. CMS will host this webinar to provide an overview of the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, including details on the Model’s design, eligibility and application requirements. The Model is designed to encourage more providers, especially small practices, to advance to performance-based risk in Medicare and allow hospitals, including small rural hospitals, to participate. The webinar will specify actions ACOs need to take to submit their application this summer for a 2018 start date, and provide the audience the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers from CMS staff.

Virtual Rural Health Symposium – Thursday, March 30 from 11:30 am – 12:35 pm ET.  HRSA’s Office of Regional Operations Region VI will host an hour-long webinar, open to the public, to identify current health trends in rural communities and discuss new approaches to improving health outcomes.  For more information and to receive instructions for dialing in, contact Joseph Walker at

Approaching Deadlines

Community Development Financial Institutions Program – March 24
Native American CDFI Funding – March 24
Comment: Proposed Payment Models for Pediatric Care – March 28

Area Health Education Centers – March 29
USDA Invests in Rural Business DevelopmentMarch 31
Funding for Achieving Health Equity – March 31
AI/AN Health Equity Initiative – April 3
Comment: Requirements for Home Health Beneficiaries – April 3
SeniorCorps Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) – April 4
NHSC Loan Repayment Program – April 6
NHSC Zika Loan Repayment Program – April 6
Prevention of Opioid Misuse in Women – April 7
HIT Advisory Committee Nominations – April 14

Comment:  New bundled payment programs delayed – April 19
AmeriCorps State and National Grants – April 19
AmeriCorps Indian Tribes Grants – April 19
Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals – April 25

Community Facilities Program – Ongoing
Summer Food Service Program – Ongoing