Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: October 21, 2021

New Funding Available for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – applications due January 13. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be making approximately 50 awards of $1 million each to rural communities to enhance prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance use disorder. Eligible applicants are domestic public, private, and nonprofit entities that can deliver services in HRSA-designated rural areas, particularly for populations that have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes. The applicant organization must be part of an established network or consortium that includes at least three other separately-owned entities. HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will hold a 90 minute-long webinar for applicants on Wednesday, November 10th at 12:30 pm ET.  A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. For questions, write to ruralopioidresponse@hrsa.gov.

HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Program  – applications due December 20. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced two funding opportunities to expand the rural health workforce. The RRPD program aims to increase opportunities for physicians to train in rural residencies. A total of $10.5 million will develop 14 new rural residency programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Eligible applicants include rural hospitals, GME consortiums, and tribal organizations. For questions, email RuralResidency@hrsa.gov

A second opportunity, the HRSA Delta Region Rural Health Workforce Training Program – applications due January 25, expects to make three awards with total investment of $1.4 million for training critical administrative support in the rural counties and parishes of the Mississippi Delta Region. These occupations include medical coding and billing, claims processing, information management, and clinical documentation. Join the technical assistance webinar on November 10, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET. For questions, email jleger@hrsa.gov.

CDC: Binge Drinking Among Adults by Select Characteristics and State. The study analyzed data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to determine prevalence of binge drinking by select demographic characteristics (age, gender, race, income level) and by state. The finding that the prevalence of binge drinking was lower in the most rural counties than in the most urban counties is consistent with earlier reports. However, adults in the most rural counties who binge drank did so more frequently and at higher intensity than did adults in the most urban counties. The report points to recommendations from the Community Preventive Services Task Force to regulate alcohol sales as a population health approach. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends increased screening and counseling in primary care settings.

HIV Prevention Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: Rural and Urban Differences. In an open access article, researchers examined how stigma operates in rural and urban settings in relation to PrEP, a medicine for people who are at high risk for HIV from sex or injection drug use. The investigation showed willingness to use PrEP in both urban and rural settings. However, stigma against drug use, HIV, and sexualities were identified as barriers to PrEP uptake, particularly in the rural setting. 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence and health care are closely linked. According to a survey of contacts with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 53 percent of respondents reported [pdf] that an abusive partner has also controlled and/or restricted access to health care. In rural areas, the prevalence of emergency department (ED) visits has been found to be higher than in non-rural areas; rural patients admitted to the ED with an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)-related diagnosis were 10 percent more likely to report multiple injuries than urban patients. Studies have shown that a gap in providers’ knowledge around screening and direct patient care is common across rural and urban areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Office of Women’s Health and Bureau of Primary Healthcare are working with the Administration of Children and Families and the National Domestic Violence Hotline to address these issues. Learn about other HRSA intimate partner violence work or view last year’s webinar, Sheltering in Place, Intimate Partner Violence, and the Healthcare Response. For more information and resources specific to rural areas, visit the Rural Health Information Hub.

HHS Seeks Public Input on Four-Year Strategic Plan – Comment by November 7. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a draft of high-level strategic goals that each of 11 operating divisions will aim for over the next four years. As with previous plans, the overarching strategy is improving health and well-being in the U.S. and abroad; new goals emphasize equity for underserved populations and building trust in science and public health. Comments can be submitted by mail, email, or fax.

New Telehealth Resource Collection

May 25, 2021

The Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC), a program of the National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center), has created a specialized collection of telehealth resources.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.

Telehealth is especially critical in rural and other remote areas without the full range of health care services and providers. The types of telehealth services have expanded over the past 20 years to increase access to health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated both the use and acceptance among patients, providers, and payers.

This collection of resources is tailored to the use and coverage of telehealth by rural providers. Within the collection are current and timely resources from federal agencies and organizations with a rural focus. Content is reviewed and updated regularly as relevant resources are published, and telehealth regulations change

Save The Date: 7th National Telehealth Summit

7th National Telehealth Summit
October 4-5, 2021
Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami Beach, FL

Telehealth today is revolutionizing healthcare delivery through improved patient outcomes, reduced costs, and the ability to deliver the right care at the right time. Telehealth is continuing to advance and expand across the nation and globally, resulting in exciting, innovative and specialized new programs that are transforming patient centric care. Many organizations have embraced Telehealth and others are quickly following suit and planning to develop and implement their own Telehealth platforms.

Telehealth is at the forefront of today’s healthcare, and it is rapidly transforming the way traditional healthcare delivery is provided. It achieves the tenets of value-based patient driven care, enhances patient satisfaction, engagement and outcomes, and reduces healthcare spending. Telehealth and virtual care are evolving at a rapid pace and is facilitating changes in reimbursement and policy.

This is the only conference on Telehealth that will equip you and your organization with exciting and innovative practices, case studies and tools to succeed with implementing telehealth programs, expanding existing platforms, while reducing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.

President Biden Announces New Actions to Deliver Masks to Communities Hit Hard by the Pandemic

As part of his National Strategy to defeat COVID-19, President Biden announced a new effort to make masks more easily available to communities hard hit by the pandemic. The Administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to over 1,300 Community Health Centers across the country, as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens, reaching some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mask wearing as a critical step to help slow the spread and protect people from getting COVID-19, but many low-income Americans still lack access to this basic protection.

Read the fact sheet

HRSA Awards $99 Million to End the HIV Epidemic in the United States

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the award of nearly $99 million through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program to expand access to HIV care, treatment, medication and essential support services. This investment is a critical component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative. EHE aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by at least 90 percent by 2030 with the goal of decreasing the number of new HIV infections to fewer than 3,000 per year.

“For three decades, HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has been a leader in the federal effort to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S.,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. “Today’s investment builds on the more than $2 billion in grants awarded through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program in fiscal year 2020, which helps to continue the program’s incredible track record of viral suppression that saves lives, reduces health disparities and slows the spread of the virus.”

Read the release

NHSC New Site Application Open

Health care facilities can now apply to be approved as a National Health Service Corps (NHSC) site. Eligible sites includes those that provide outpatient, ambulatory and primary health care services (medical, dental, and behavioral health) to people living in high-need urban and rural areas.

Additional, eligible sites include facilities providing general substance use disorder (SUD) Treatment, a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program or an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP).

Applications are due July 21, 2020.

Learn more about the NHSC new site application.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

May 21, 2020