Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 28, 2017

What’s New

CDC Explores Air Quality in Rural Areas.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are rural and urban differences in environmental health data related to air and drinking water quality.  The findings from the latest CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Rural Health Series show that air quality significantly improves as areas become more rural, but measures indicate that water quality decreases. Understanding differences between rural and urban areas can lead to public health interventions geographically targeted to address factors that contribute to poorer health outcomes.

Funding Opportunities

Improved Nutrition Services for Elders – August 7. The Innovations in Nutrition Programs and Services grant aims to support innovative and promising practices that enhance the quality and effectiveness of nutrition programs for older adults. Rural communities often face limited access to healthy and affordable food, particularly for their larger elder populations often isolated from friends and family and managing chronic health conditions. The HHS Administration for Community Living (ACL) will provide up to $250,000 to four applicants whose program outcomes should include improved collaboration with local health care entities, lower health care costs for specific populations, or reduced need for institutionalizing older adults.

Support for Veteran and Minority Farmers and Ranchers – August 7. Community-based organizations, nonprofit agencies, colleges and universities, and tribal entities are encouraged to apply for the USDA Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers program. Funded applicants will receive up to $200,000 to enhance access to USDA agricultural programs and services for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers while also providing training to support those populations’ farm and ranch ownership and operation. Agriculture presents significant occupational health challenges for rural residents in addition to the existing health disparities for veterans and socially disadvantaged groups.

Policy Updates

Questions about Rural Health Policy Updates? Write to

FINAL CALL:  Comments Requested: Developing Measures for Telehealth – June 30.  The National Quality Forum has posted a draft document aiming to develop a telehealth framework for ensuring that clinical measures are applied to telehealth encounters.  The project, contracted to NQF by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and sponsored by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, is intended to identify existing and potential metrics for care delivered via telehealth, and develop a framework with guiding principles for future telehealth measurement.  NQF invites comments on the body of the report as well as suggestions on measurement concepts.  For questions, contact the NQF project team at

Help Wanted: Hospitals Needed to Test Health IT Safety. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has developed a new health information technology (IT) safety measure to reduce potentially inappropriate duplicate orders for medications, laboratory tests, radiological exams, and procedures. ONC seeks volunteer hospitals to participate in initial qualitative testing of the measure before it can be implemented widely. One of the challenges unique to rural hospitals is that they don’t have sufficient volume for certain quality measurement.  Hospitals interested in providing feedback from a rural perspective should contact Emily Newton at Mathematica Policy Research.

Access to Telecommunications for SNFs. This final rule summarizes a memo from the Federal Communications Commission which adds skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to the list of health care providers eligible to participate in the Rural Health Care Program as mandated by the Rural Healthcare Connectivity Act of 2016. As of June 21, 2017, nearly 4,500 rural SNFs may receive funding to improve access to telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of post-acute care.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Application Assistance for Delta Region Health Systems Funding – TODAY – Wednesday, June 28 at 1:00 pm ET.  FORHP project officers will explain the purpose of the Delta Region Health Systems Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), provide guidance on the application process, and answer questions.

Lessons Learned from the Rural Opioid Overdose Program – TODAY – Wednesday, June 28 at 2:00 pm ET.  Program experts from FORHP will discuss outcomes and lessons learned from the 2015 Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Program, a one-year project to expand access to emergency devices that reverse the effects of overdoses.

#RuralHealthChat: Oral Health Access in Rural Areas – Thursday, June 29 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Rural Health Information Hub will bring together several experts in a Twitter Chat to discuss rural-specific barriers to oral health care and the impact that improved access can have, and to share resources that can help at the local level.  To participate, log on to Twitter and follow the #RuralHealthChat hashtag.  The RHIhub will tweet out questions on the topic and other attendees can join the co-hosts and contribute their answers.  The RHI Hub hosts Twitter Chats every month and archives the discussions on their website.

Rural Health Clinics (RHC) Technical Assistance – Thursday, June 29 at 2:00 pm ET.   This webinar will focus on RHC billing, in particular the top 10 most common RHC billing errors and how to prevent them.  The presenter will be Janet Lytton, Director of Reimbursement with Rural Health Development.  You can participate via the web-based connection at and by phone at  1-800-857-9677, using conference passcode 3943973. (Please call-in about 10 minutes prior to the webinar.)  As with all other technical assistance for rural health clinics, this session will be recorded and archived on FORHP’s RHC TA page.

Save the Date and Register for 3RNet’s Annual Conference – September 12-14.  The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) will hold its annual conference in Scottsdale, AZ. 3RNet members represent over 5,000 communities across the U.S. that actively recruit physicians and other health care providers to work in rural areas.  Attendees will benefit from workshops and a speaker line up sharing insight on rural recruitment challenges, resources and tools.

Training Series for Health Care Providers on Prescribing Opioids – Ongoing. The CDC has an eight-part online training series to help health care providers apply CDC’s prescribing recommendations in their clinical settings through interactive patient scenarios, videos, knowledge checks, tips, and resources. Rural practitioners report their concern about the potential for opioid abuse, but at the same time report insufficient training in prescribing opioids. For this reason, the CDC created the 2016  Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and associated training. Topics in the series include communicating with patients, treating chronic pain without opioids, and prescribing decision making.

Approaching Deadlines

Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) – June 29
Rural Health and Safety Education – June 30
Comments Requested: Developing Measures for Telehealth – June 30
Rural Health Experts Wanted – July 3
Building Communities of Recovery – July 3
Comments Requested:  HUD Healthy Homes Survey – July 3
Comments Requested: Universal Education for Opioid Prescribers – July 10
Comments Requested: Improving the ACA Insurance Market – July 12
CPC+ Expands to 4 New (Mostly Rural) Regions – July 13
Transitional Living Program/Maternity Group Homes – July 14
Delta Health Care Service Grant Program – July 17
Delta Region Community Health Systems – July 17
Repair or Rehab Housing for Low-income Rural Residents – July 17
USDA Rural Telemedicine Development – July 17
Suicide Prevention – July 18
Rural Health Opioid Program – July 21
Community Facilities Technical Assistance Grant – July 24
Rural Community Development Initiative – July 25
Grants for Socially-Disadvantaged Groups – July 25
Training Rural Teachers – July 28
Expanding Medication Assisted Treatment – July 31
First Responders to Opioid Overdose – July 31
Empowered Communities/Healthier Nation – July 31
Comments Requested: Interoperability Standards – July 31
Improved Nutrition Services for Elders – August 7
Support for Veteran and Minority Farmers and Ranchers – August 7
Funding for Children Affected by Substance Abuse – August 9
Comments Requested: Payment Changes for Medicare Clinicians – August 21
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