HHS to Dedicate $4.8 Billion from American Rescue Plan to COVID-19 Testing for the Uninsured

May 25, 2021

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is announcing that it is dedicating $4.8 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to support the HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program. This funding will allow the program to continue reimbursing health care providers for testing uninsured individuals for COVID-19. As of May 19, 2021, the program has issued nearly $4 billion in testing reimbursements to providers.

Read the release.

Webinar: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

Date: June 3, 2021

Time: 2:30- 4:00 PM CST

Click here to Register!

The Health Center Association of Nebraska (HCAN) and the Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Regional Operations Region 7, invites you to Part 2 of our COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence webinar series. During this session, you will learn about COVID variants and the potential impact they may have on COVID vaccine response. You will hear updates on the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines in adults and children, and on the association of some of the vaccines with development of blood clots. Approaches to address vaccine hesitancy will be discussed, including latest CDC guidelines on what a fully vaccinated individual can safely do. The session will also include a discussion about messaging and best practices in reaching vulnerable and medically underserved communities including racial and ethnic minority groups and individuals living in areas of high social vulnerability.

Recommended Audience:
• Clinical providers
• Community health workers
• Administrative and leadership staff
• Service coordinators and housing providers
• Social services providers
• Community-based and faith-based organization staff

Please reach out to HCAN’s Director of Training and Technical Assistance, Jenna Thomsen, with questions at JLT@hcanebraska.org

 

FORHP Announcements

May 27, 2021

Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Vaccine Confidence Program Will Fund All That Are Eligible. This week, the Health Resources and Services Administration announced that all eligible RHCs that apply may receive funding to increase confidence in vaccines for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The deadline to apply is June 23rd. For questions about the program, email RHCVaxConfidence@hrsa.gov.

New Funding Available for the HRSA Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) expects to make nine awards of up to $475,000 each to connect specialists at academic medical centers with primary care providers in rural areas to improve patient care in their communities. More specifically, these learning opportunities will address unmet needs for their target population, which could include populations who have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes. Applications from public, private, and nonprofit entities are due on June 25th.

FDA Approves Storage of Pfizer Vaccine for Up to One Month. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its guidance for healthcare providers administering the vaccine and allows for undiluted, thawed Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine vials to be stored in refrigeration for up to one month. The previous time span was up to five days.

The Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program – Application Deadline June 23

Date: Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Time: 9:00 – 10:00 am CST.

Zoom Link: https://hrsa-gov.zoomgov.com/j/1604108840

Dial-in: 833 568 8864 Webinar ID: 160 410 8840

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making grant awards to all eligible RHCs that apply and have a complete and acceptable application through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program to expand the response to COVID-19 in rural communities. RHCs may use this grant funding to increase vaccine confidence, improve health care in rural areas, and reinforce key messages about prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Interested RHCs should review the Notice of Funding Opportunity and start the process to register to apply for a HRSA grant.

HRSA Region 7 Webinar on Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence

Date: June 3, 2021

Time: 2:30 PM CST

Click here to Register!

The Health Center Association of Nebraska (HCAN) and the Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Regional Operations Region 7, invites you to Part 2 of our COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence webinar series. During this session, you will learn about COVID variants and the potential impact they may have on COVID vaccine response. You will hear updates on the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines in adults and children, and on the association of some of the vaccines with development of blood clots. Approaches to address vaccine hesitancy will be discussed, including latest CDC guidelines on what a fully vaccinated individual can safely do. The session will also include a discussion about messaging and best practices in reaching vulnerable and medically underserved communities including racial and ethnic minority groups and individuals living in areas of high social vulnerability.

Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access

May 25, 2021

On May 4, 2021, the White House announced $250 million to support two funding opportunities for community-based organizations to hire and mobilize community outreach workers. Today, HRSA is pleased to announce the availability of the second notice of funding opportunity announcement (NOFO) titled Community-Based Workforce to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Access.

The purpose of the program is to support communities as they establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. This includes the hiring of community outreach workers, which includes community health workers, patients navigators, and social support specialists, to educate and assist individuals in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

Eligible applicants for this NOFO include nonprofit private or public organizations, including local and/or regional community-based organizations (CBOs) with demonstrated experience in implementing public health programs, particularly in medically underserved areas. This includes Tribes and Tribal organizations.

HRSA will hold a technical assistance webinar for applicants on Tuesday May 25th, 2021, from 4:00-5:00pm EST.

For further information on the NOFO, please visit View Opportunity | GRANTS.GOV

NRHA Today

May 21, 2021

Rural Communities, families, divided over COVID vaccination:

Daily COVID-19 vaccination rates are falling nationwide, and gaps in uptake are starting to show in rural America. According to a CDC report, coverage was lower in rural counties (38.9 percent) than urban counties (45.7 percent. This is problematic because many rural residents are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID. “The moment we’re in right now is overcoming vaccine hesitancy in a rural context,” says NRHA CEO Alan Morgan. “That’s the battle at hand.” Morgan adds that vaccine “messaging to date has simply been wrong, at a national level, for rural America.” The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) believes our members, stakeholders, and leaders in rural communities can provide crucial perspective on the benefits of vaccination. A recent Cleveland Clinic study showed that 99.75 percent of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 between Jan. 1 and April 13 were not fully vaccinated. To reinforce the association’s dedication to health equity, NRHA has joined several national coalitions aimed at communicating vaccine safety and efficacy.

NRHA to host webinar on RHC access to $1B in COVID funding:

NRHA is hosting a webinar at 2:30 p.m. CDT May 24 on how rural health clinics can take advantage of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) nearly $1 billion in rural COVID-19 response funds. Speakers from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will outline the opportunities and provide direction on how to apply. Additionally, HRSA’s forthcoming Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence Program will support vaccine outreach in rural communities, including working to improve vaccine confidence and counter vaccine hesitancy. HRSA’s Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program also supports 4,600 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) across the country in their testing and mitigation efforts. NRHA can’t wait to see you in person for conversations on rebuilding our rural communities and keeping residents safe Sept. 21-22 at NRHA’s 19th Rural Health Clinic Conference in Kansas City, Mo. Submit presentation proposals for this event through June 2.

HRSA determines pharma companies in violation of 340B statue:

HRSA recently directed six drug manufacturers to comply with 340B pricing requirements or risk financial penalties. HRSA took action in response to recent requests by stakeholders to take enforcement action against drug manufacturers that fail to comply with 340B program requirements. NRHA recently sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to uphold the integrity of the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Since last summer, large pharmaceutical manufacturers have waged attacks against the program targeting contract pharmacies and covered entities, and NRHA is pleased with HRSA’s recent actions to uphold 340B for the rural patients and providers who rely on the program. NRHA can’t wait to see you in person to continue the fight to uphold 340B with sessions at NRHA’s Rural Health Clinic and Critical Access Hospital Conferences Sept. 21-24 in Kansas City, Mo. Submit presentation proposals for these events through June 2.

Two weeks to speak at NRHA’s clinic, Critical Access Hospital (CAH) events this fall:

NRHA is accepting session proposals through June 2 for our 2021 Rural Health Clinic and Critical Access Hospital Conferences, which will be held in person Sept. 21-24 in Kansas City, Mo. This is your chance to share effective models, policies, research, and information and provide attendees with insights and best practices addressing many of the access, quality, and patient safety issues confronted by CAHs and RHCs. NRHA urges members to contribute a session abstract for consideration. We look forward to seeing you this fall to share strategies to survive the changing landscape for rural hospitals.

NRHA to host oral health training for Community Health Workers (CHWs):

In partnership with the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, NRHA is hosting a virtual community health worker training on oral health at 10 a.m. CDT May 25. The training is open to all community health workers working with rural patients and communities. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. Additionally, meaningful legislation addressing health care inequities in the U.S. requires studies examining health disparities due to geographic location or economic status. According to recent research, rural children are less likely to receive preventive dental care than urban children, which can have serious consequences for oral health and overall health. The findings of this study are important to informing legislative change, as preparations for the surgeon general’s report on oral health are currently underway.

Telehealth bill addresses barriers “cooked in ” to state law:

The use of telehealth has increased during the pandemic, allowing patients to be seen right away and facilitating regular tracking of chronic conditions. Digital care may be the new model for health care – but certain reimbursement structures for rural health clinics and community health centers mean they don’t get paid for virtual visits. According to Charles James of the Illinois Rural Health Association, an NRHA member, these problems are “cooked in” to existing payment structures – but in Illinois, a new bill aims to remove barriers to telehealth services. Broadband assistance for rural residents is available through the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, which provides a temporary discount on broadband bills for low-income households. We can’t wait to see you in person to navigate the changing landscape of telehealth Sept. 21-24 at NRHA’s Rural Health Clinic and Critical Access Hospital Conferences in Kansas City, Mo. Submit presentation proposals for these events through June 2.

HRSA Funding Opportunities

May 17, 2021

HRSA Expanding Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach

As part of the large federal investment in local-level response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make approximately 10 awards with total funding of $125 million. The funding will support outreach, education and assistance related to the COVID-19 vaccine and go to public and/or private nonprofit organizations with demonstrated experience in public health programs across a broad geographic area. Applicants are expected to have partnerships with health and social service organizations that can directly hire community outreach workers from vulnerable, medically-underserved communities. This is the first of two funding opportunities for community-based vaccine outreach. The second funding opportunity will be released in mid-May and will focus on smaller community-based organizations. Applications due May 18

Nurse Corps Scholarship Program

This program provides financial support to students enrolled in nursing degree programs in exchange for a commitment to serve in high-need areas across the country. HRSA has received a historic increase in funding this year under the American Rescue Plan. With this additional funding, Nurse Corps anticipates making significantly more awards to including:

Up to 20 percent of total awards to nurse practitioners (NP) specializing in psychiatric mental health

  • Up to $5 million to women’s health NPs and certified nurse midwife advanced practice nurses and registered nurses (RNs) who wish to pursue a career in women’s health
  • Up to $2 million dollars to support unlicensed assistive personnel such as Certified Nursing Assistants, Home Health Aides, Medical Assistants, as well as those in entry level nursing careers, such as Licensed Practical (Vocational) Nurses to pursue an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or Bachelor’s in Science of Nursing.

Application cycle has now been extended through May 26.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Programs

HRSA extended the deadline for each of three loan repayment programs: the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program, and the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program. A record number of new awards for eligible clinicians is being supported by an $800 million increase in funding. Extended to May 27 (from May 6).

Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program

HRSA will make three awards, each $1 million per year for a four-year project. Recipients will be networks that have already been established by three or more separately-owned entities and include at least two rural hospitals, among other requirements. The goal of the program is to test models for improved access to care in areas that are underserved. Applications due June 4.

Coming Soon – New HHS funding for Rural Health Clinics to strengthen COVID-19 testing and mitigation and increase vaccine confidence

May 14, 2021

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding available for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to strengthen COVID-19 testing and mitigation and increase vaccine confidence.

Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) ProgramComing Soon!

Interested RHCs should watch for the upcoming funding opportunity and start the process to register to apply for a HRSA grant. HRSA will fund all eligible RHCs that have a complete and acceptable application. RHCs may use this funding to increase vaccine confidence, improve health care in rural areas, and reinforce key messages about prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

For additional information please register in advance and join the National Association of Rural Health Clinic’s (NARHC) RHC COVID Initiatives webinar on Wednesday May 19th, at 12 PM ET. Please join the RHC Vaccine Confidence Program mailing list for additional program announcements and updates by clicking here. For additional questions: RHCVaxConfidence@hrsa.gov.

Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation ProgramComing Soon!

RHCs that have met the requirements for the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program will receive a one-time allocation of up to $100,000 per clinic site automatically deposited in the bank account of the corresponding TIN organization in June 2021. RHCs will not have to apply for payments for this program. Ineligible RHCs that are not current with reporting of testing data on rhccovid19reporting.com will have the opportunity to catch up for future program consideration, dependent on the availability of funds. Please join the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program mailing list for additional program announcements and updates by clicking here. For additional questions: RHCCOVID-19Testing@hrsa.gov.

Administering COVID-19 Vaccines to Adolescents

On Wednesday, May 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in adolescents age 12 to 15. This followed the announcement on Monday, May 10, that the FDA had authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in this age group.

You are encouraged to make the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available to adolescents age 12 to 15 as soon as possible. In addition, it is emphasized that the CDC’s recommendation that COVID-19 and other vaccines may now be administered to everyone age 12 and up without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 and other vaccines on the same day, as well as co-administration within 14 days.

With the decline in routine pediatric immunizations and well-child visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, health centers are encouraged to help children and adolescents catch up on preventive care. Well-child visits are a good venue for routine and COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as a variety of important screenings and assessments.

Here are some key CDC resources related to this update:

A new site for patients specifically about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens. Please share this with parents to help them understand why they should get their child vaccinated.