NARHC-News 2021 Spring Edition

April 23, 2021

HRSA Loan Repayment

HRSA’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has awarded scholarships and loan repayment to health care providers dedicated to working in areas with limited access to care for nearly 50 years. This award year will be the largest one in HRSA’s history and clinicians are encouraged to apply even if their organization’s health professional shortage area (HPSA) score has not been competitive for awards in the past. Additionally, the NHSC Loan Repayment Program will dedicate $15 million for awards to clinicians working at Indian Health Service facilities, Tribally-Operated 638 Health Programs, and Urban Indian Health Programs.

The NHSC opened its application for 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. The application closes on Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Read More

Telling the Story of Rural Health Clinics: One Survey at a Time

It seems like everyone wants you to fill out a survey in today’s day and age. After almost every interaction with an organization or company, we are prodded (sometimes not so subtly) to fill out a survey or provide a 1-to-5-star rating. Healthcare is no exception as many of you probably do the same thing with your patients!

We all probably have survey fatigue at this point, but it remains an important and useful tool for organizations to gather data and figure out how to improve. NARHC is no exception to this rule, and needs you to fight the survey fatigue to help tell the Rural Health Clinic story in Washington D.C. & across the country. Read More

Providers Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine for Workers

The Houston Methodist hospital system is hoping to “lead by example” by mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all of its workers.

“At Houston Methodist, we’ve made a commitment to offer our patients unparalleled safety, quality, service and innovation. When we choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19 we are prioritizing safety by helping stop the spread of this deadly virus and keeping our patients, visitors and colleagues safe,” Houston Methodist President and CEO Dr. Marc Boom said in an email to managers. Read More

NARHC has the Answers You’re Looking For!

Have you ever found yourself searching high and low for answers? What are the definitions of service? What exactly are the staff responsibilities according to RHC regulations? Where can you find guidance specific to RHCs? NARHC has the answers at the click of a button!

Take a moment to check out the Newly Redesigned RHC Federal Statute, Regulation, and Guidance pages under the Resources tab of our website.

Please note, updates from the Medicare payment reforms recently made have yet to be made. NARHC expects to receive updates shortly and will announce when the website has been updated.

 

 

Webinar: Look-Alike Funding Announced

Date: April 22, 2021

Time: 11:30 – 12:30 PM CST

Click here to Join the day of the session
If you prefer to join by phone: 833-568-8864
When prompted, enter meeting/webinar ID: 161 822 7248

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Announces Nearly $150 Million from American Rescue Plan to Support COVID-19 Response
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, HHS announced the availability of nearly $150 million to community-based health care providers to aid their response to COVID-19. These funds will support approximately 100 Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) to respond to and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, support vaccination efforts, and enhance health care services and infrastructure in communities across the country. Read the press release.

Visit the American Rescue Plan funding for LALs technical assistance (TA) webpage for a complete list of eligible LALs, application instructions, deadlines, and other resources. Applications are due in Grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, May 14.

Rural Hospital Guide to Improving Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

April 16, 2021

The Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC), a program of the National Rural Health Resource Center (the Center), shares with you A Rural Hospital Guide to Improving Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the percentage of rural area adults who have been diagnosed with COPD is nearly double the percentage in large metropolitan areas. Adults with COPD are at increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Rural areas responding to the COVID-19 pandemic may benefit from providing supportive respiratory services to their community members.

The overall purpose of this guide is to provide information about COPD and clarity around best practices of care management for those with COPD in rural communities. The objective is to help rural hospital leadership develop a thorough understanding of COPD services in rural areas, clinical diagnosis, and treatment, including treatment options available and new technology developments useful to rural populations.

Rural hospitals should use this manual to identify areas for improvement in diagnosis, treatment, and long-term care of COPD patients in their communities. State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) partners may also benefit from this guide when meeting with hospital leadership to assist them in thoughtful discussion related to improving the community’s health

Vaccine updates, new rural funding opportunity, and more

April 15, 2021

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra Announces Expansion of COVID-19 Vaccine Program to all Community Health Centers Across the Country:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that all HRSA-funded health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) will now be invited to participate in the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. These health centers will have the opportunity to join the program as soon as they are ready, increasing the total number of health centers that have been invited to 1,470 nationwide. This expansion will be made through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This expansion of the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program is part of President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that all of the nation’s underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated. This voluntary program started on February 9 with 250 select health centers, then expanded on March 11 to invite an additional 700 health centers. For this phase, an additional 520 health centers that operate over 2,500 service delivery sites are now eligible to participate. Approximately 70 percent of those who have received a vaccine through the program are racial or ethnic minorities.

New Funding Opportunity for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program:

Three RMOMS award recipients will each receive up to $1 million annually for a four-year period of performance to improve maternal obstetrics care in rural communities.

Award recipients will dedicate the first year to planning and the second through fourth years to activities that implement the program’s focus areas, including:

  • risk appropriate care approaches in rural regions,
  • continuum of care through network approaches,
  • telehealth and specialty care, and
  • financial sustainability.

The program will allow awardees to test models in order to address unmet needs for their target population, which could include populations who have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes, health disparities and other inequities. Read the release.

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) New Site Application Open, Inactive Sites May Apply

2021 NHSC new site application cycle is now open for eligible health care sites that have never been approved as NHSC sites. This year’s application is also open to formerly-approved NHSC sites that have become inactive. Eligibility includes health care sites that provide outpatient, ambulatory and primary health care services (medical, dental, and behavioral health) in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Eligible site types also include facilities providing general substance use disorder (SUD) Treatment, a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program or an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).

Applications are due May 25, 11:59 p.m. EDT. Learn more about the NHSC new site application.

FORHP Announcements

April 15, 2021

Vaccine Hesitancy for COVID-19: State, County, and Local Estimates. To support state and local outreach efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) researched federal survey data to predict vaccine hesitancy rates down to the county level. There are two Excel spreadsheets: one presents state and county estimates of the proportion of adults who describe themselves as “probably not” or “definitely not” (Hesitant) or “definitely not” (Strongly Hesitant) going to get a COVID-19 vaccine once one is available to them, and the other presents select sociodemographic and geographic factors by county that can be examined together with the estimates of vaccine hesitancy.

COVID-19 Resources

New: We Can Do This: COVID-19 Public Education Campaign. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a national effort to help community partners promote COVID-19 vaccine confidence. The campaign includes educational materials targeted to specific audiences and seeks volunteers for the COVID-19 Community Corps.

New: Volunteer to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has expanded its definition of persons authorized to give the vaccine. These include, among others, current and retired traditional and non-traditional health care professionals, and students in health care programs.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19. A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders.

COVID-19 FAQs and Funding for HRSA Programs. Find COVID-19-related funding and frequently asked questions for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions. Includes information on terms and conditions, attestation, reporting and auditing requirements, general and targeted distributions, and how to report capital equipment purchases.

CDC COVID-19 Updates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance, including a section specific to rural health care, a Toolkit for Tribal Communities, and a vaccine locator by state. New: COVID-19 Vaccination Trainings for new and experienced providers.

CMS Coronavirus Partner Resources. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides information for providers, health plans, state Medicaid programs, and Children’s Health Insurance Programs and hosts recurring online sessions to provide updates.

HHS Coronavirus Data Hub. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website includes estimated and reported hospital capacity by state, with numbers updated daily.

COVID-19 Data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The site provides access to demographic and economic data, including state and local data on at-risk populations, poverty, health insurance coverage, and employment.

ATTC Network COVID-19 Resources for Addictions Treatment. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network was established in 1993 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The online catalog of COVID-related resources includes regularly-updated guidance and trainings for professionals in the field.

GHPC’s Collection of Rural Health Strategies for COVID-19. The Federal Office of Rural Health (FORHP)-supported Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) provides reports, guidance, and innovative strategies gleaned from their technical assistance and peer learning sessions with FORHP grantees.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties. The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States. An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning March 26, 2020 to the present.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019. The Rural Health Information Hub has a compendium of rural-specific activities and guidelines, including Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness, a tool with resources for responding to a local surge in cases.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this list of resources, tools, and trainings for behavioral health and recovery providers.

Mobilizing Health Care Workforce via Telehealth. ProviderBridge.org was created by the Federation of State Medical Boards through the CARES Act and the Federal Office of Rural Health (FORHP)-supported Licensure Portability Program. The site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing by state as well as a provider portal to connect volunteer health care professionals to state agencies and health care entities.

Online Resource for Licensure of Health Professionals. Created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing in each state for psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists assistants, and social workers.

Funding and Opportunities

Scholarships for NRHA Annual Rural Health Conference – May 4. The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) will cover the full cost to attend the four-day, virtual event. The scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to students and community members with a critical need for financial support for conference expenses.

New Sites for National Health Service Corps (NHSC) – May 25. Health care sites and treatment facilities that have never been approved as NHSC sites may apply. This year’s application is also open to formerly approved NHSC sites that have become inactive. Eligibility includes health care sites providing outpatient, ambulatory, and primary health care services (medical, dental, and behavioral health) in Health Professional Shortage Areas. Additional eligible site types include facilities providing general substance use disorder treatment, a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program, or an Opioid Treatment Program.

DOL Mine Health and Safety Grants – May 28. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will make 56 awards with total funding of more than $10.5 million to secure safe and healthy working conditions for miners, and prevent fatalities, disease, and injury. Eligible applicants include state, local, and tribal governments; nonprofit organizations, and public or private institutions of higher education.

HRSA Early Intervention Services for HIV/AIDS – June 21. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make 145 awards with total funding of $69 million for testing, diagnosis, and support of low income, uninsured, and underserved people with HIV. Eligible applicants are existing grantees of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and newly eligible public and private nonprofit entities proposing to provide comprehensive primary health care in outpatient settings.

BPHC Bulletin: Health Center COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program

April 14, 2021

The Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) recently announced the Health Center COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program: a new partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense to support the Biden Administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. This program will supply health centers and look-alikes with free rapid testing supplies, including point-of-care analyzers and test kits. The goal of this program is to ensure that health centers have access to supplies, materials, and real-time information needed to support COVID-19 testing.

At this time, BPHC is unable to provide additional details about the manufacturer of the analyzers and test kits. The anticipated manufacturer has an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for COVID-19 rapid, point-of-care tests. BPHC does not anticipate any limitation on the availability of supplies from the manufacturer. And are unable at this time to answer questions submitted through the BPHC Contact Form about the manufacturer.

Health Centers and Health Center Program Look-Alikes:

To best meet your needs based on the resources available, BPHC needs to understand your testing supply needs for the next few months. BPHC will send a questionnaire to the Project Director listed in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks to gather input from all health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes.

This questionnaire must be completed in one sitting—you will not be able to save your progress. You also will not be able to change your responses once you’ve submitted.

We recommend that you take the following steps prior to beginning the questionnaire:

Responses to the questionnaire are due no later than 11:59 p.m. your local time on Wednesday, April 21.

If you have questions, contact Health Center Program Support online. Select “COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program” as the issue type—the sixth option on the “Health Center Program Questions” screen. Choose sub-category “Testing Supply Distribution Program Inquiry.”

You can also call Health Center Program Support at 877-464-4772, option 2, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday (except federal holidays).

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources: Reaching Vulnerable Populations

April 5, 2021

As COVID-19 vaccines continue rolling out across the country, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has up-to-date resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page. CMS looks forward to partnering with you to promote vaccine safety and encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. For more information, visit the CMS COVID-19 Policies and Guidance page.

 

Flex Monitoring Team- Covid-19 Webinar

Date: April 19, 2021

Time: 2:00 PM CST

Click here to Register!

The Flex Monitoring Team invites you to join them for a webinar presenting findings from a survey of Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) in fall 2020. This study assessed the capacity of CAHs to respond to the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic in several areas: finance, federal waivers and regulatory flexibilities, patient treatment, workforce, and partnerships. In the webinar, FMT describe some of the key findings from the study and their implications