FORHP Announcements

May 20, 2021

CDC: Disparities in COVID-19 Vaccination Coverage Between Urban and Rural Counties. In the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC collected data on vaccine doses administered across the rural-urban continuum and found that coverage was lower overall, among all age groups, and among men and women in rural compared with urban counties.

GAO on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity for Rural Areas. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) researches Federal government operations and reports fact-based, non-partisan information. This report notes that data collected for federal maternal health programs isn’t always separated and analyzed for rural and underserved areas, and provides an update on recommendations GAO made to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

CRS Insight on 5G Fund for Rural America. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate. This brief describes legislation and activity carried out by the Federal Communications Commission to provide up to $8 billion over the next 10 years to bring voice and broadband service to rural areas.

RHPTP Eligible Learning Collaborative Series

May 17, 2021

Rural Healthcare Provider Transition Project (RHPTP) Learning Collaborative Series

Click here to register for all or some of the webinars below!

A four-part learning collaborative series has been built to promote the assessment of your organizations’ strengths and weaknesses in preparing for the transition to value-based care (VBC). Through education and group discussion, you will gain a better understanding of a variety of VBC topics that help strengthen your organization’s foundation while becoming effective participants in a health system focused on value.

Topic and Speakers:

LC1: Self-Assessment for Transition Planning: How ready is your organization for value-based care?

  • Speakers: Terry Hill and Rhonda Barcus, The Center
  • Date and Time: Monday, May 24, 2021 @ 12:00/NOON – 1:00 PM CST
  • LC2: Basics of Value-Based Care and Payment
  • Speaker: Jennifer Lundblad, Stratis Health
  • Date and Time: Monday, June 28, 2021 @ 12:00/NOON – 1:00 PM CST
  • LC3: Leadership Commitment to Building Population Health
  • Speaker: Dr. Alana Knudson, NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis
  • Date and Time: Monday, July 26, 2021 @ 12:00/NOON – 1:00 PM CST
  • LC4: Resiliency
  • Speakers: Dr. Jane Pederson and Betsy Jeppesen, Stratis Health
  • Date and Time: Monday, August 30, 2021 @ 12:00/NOON – 1:00 PM CST

RHPTP Application

May 17, 2021

Click here to begin your Application!

The Rural Healthcare Provider Transition Project (RHPTP) is excited to announce RHPTP applications are now being accepted to participate in the next project year (November 2021 – August 2022). To be considered, your application must be completed in the entirety by 11:59 PM CST on September 10, 2021.

RHPTP is designed to help strengthen value-based care (VBC) for health care organizations by building recipients’ foundation for VBC in efficiency, quality, patient experience, and safety of care.

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.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

May 13, 2021

CDC and USDA Team Up for Vaccine Education Effort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing $9.95 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to improve vaccine confidence in rural areas. NIFA will work with local partners through the Land Grant University System and its Cooperative Extension System, a nationwide educational network that provides non-formal higher education and learning to farming communities.

HRSA COVID-19 Coverage Assistance Fund. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will provide claims reimbursement at the national Medicare rate for eligible health care providers administering vaccines to underinsured individuals. This may be particularly helpful in rural communities given higher rates of uninsured and underinsured.

HHS/DoD National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network. A joint program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is available at no cost to hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients and struggling with access to enough critical care physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialized clinical experts. Teams of critical care clinicians are available to deliver virtual care through lightweight telemedicine platforms, such as an app on a mobile device. Hear from participating clinicians and email to learn more and sign up.

HHS Coordinates New Effort to Vaccinate Migratory/Seasonal Workers in Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is working with several divisions, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to boost vaccination rates in a workforce often at heightened risk of COVID-19 infection.

RAND/RWJF Report: COVID-19 and the Experiences of Populations at Greater Risk. The RAND Corporation joined with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to examine the way people view health issues. Researchers asked people in the United States about their experiences related to the pandemic, and their views on issues such as freedom, racism, and the role of government.

FORHP Announcements- May 6

HRSA Expanding Community-Based Workforce for COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach – Applications Due May 18. 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.

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – Applications Open on May 12. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created this temporary program to help eligible individuals and households afford internet service during the pandemic. Eligible households can enroll through an approved broadband service provider or by visiting GetEmergencyBroadband.org. The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner.

HRSA Celebrates National Nurses Week, May 6-12. National Nurse Week is here and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is celebrating the significant contributions of our country’s nurses. Did you know certified nurse midwives supported by the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provide obstetric care in rural communities and other areas where access to such prenatal and postnatal care can be severely limited? With $800 million in additional funding through the American Rescue Plan, the NHSC is providing more support than ever before to certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and other disciplines working in underserved communities. Join HRSA in recognizing the hard work of the nurses by following along on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

FDA Approves Higher Dosage of Naloxone to Treat Opioid Overdose. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a higher dose nasal spray that deliver 8 milligrams (mg) of naloxone into the nasal cavity. The FDA had previously approved 2 mg and 4 mg nasal sprays.

HHS Announces Nearly $1 Billion for Rural COVID-19 Response

May 4, 2021

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of nearly $1 billion to respond to COVID-19 in rural communities. Administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the funds will expand COVID-19 testing, and increase the number of vaccines sent to rural areas.

Additionally, HHS announced that approximately $250 million will be awarded to develop and support a community-based workforce who will serve as trusted voices sharing information about vaccines, work to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence, and address any barriers to vaccination for individuals living in vulnerable and medically underserved communities.

Over the next few months, HRSA will:

  • Provide up to $100,000 to each of more than 4,600 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) across the country through the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program, which follows the success of the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing Program. Send questions about the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program to RHCCOVID-19Testing@hrsa.gov.
  • Further expand COVID-19 testing in approximately 1,730 small rural hospitals – Critical Access Hospitals and other rural hospitals with fewer than 50 beds – with up to $230,000 each through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP). Hospitals that are interested should contact their state’s SHIP grantee.
  • Invite RHCs to join the new Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program – a joint effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase COVID-19 vaccine supply in rural communities. Send questions about the Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program to ruralpolicy@hrsa.gov with RHC Vaccine Distribution in the subject line.
  • Make nearly $100 million available in grants through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program. HRSA will fund all eligible RHCs that apply. Rural Health Clinics participating in the RHCVC program will be able to use the funds to increase patient and community confidence in COVID-19 vaccination and to address equity gaps by bolstering patient literacy on the benefits of broader vaccination for other infectious diseases. Send questions about the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence Program to RHCVaxconfidence@hrsa.gov.

Read the full press release and White House Fact Sheet for more details about this new funding.

For more information about HRSA’s rural programs, visit the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy website: https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/index.html.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcement

April 29, 2021

Comments Requested: Proposed Changes to Medicare Payments to Hospitals – June 28. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed updates to how Medicare reimburses acute care hospitals, Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals. There are proposals on how to implement new Graduate Medicare Education (GME) provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, including how to distribute additional GME slots for rural residency training programs. The proposed rule also includes two Requests for Information: one on ways to attain health equity for all patients, and the other on the use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards to digitally submit quality information.

Population Health in Rural America in 2020: Proceedings of a Workshop. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report their findings on rural demographics and social determinants of health, data challenges, tribal health, and rural health policy. The next workshop, taking place in June, will examine the relationship between civic engagement and health equity.

NCHS Data Brief: Influenza Vaccination Rates for Children, 2019. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) finds that just over one-half of children in the United States aged 6 months through 17 years had an influenza vaccination during the year studied. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there were more than 45,000 flu-related hospitalizations, and more than 400 deaths, for children and youth during the 2018-2019 influenza season. Across all age groups (6 months to 4 years; 5-11 years; 12-17 years), children living in rural areas had the lowest influenza vaccination coverage.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

March 11, 2021

HHS to Invest $250 Million for COVID-19 Response in Underserved Communities. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a community-level program for vulnerable populations, including those in rural areas, and racial and ethnic minorities. The new initiative – Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 – is expected to fund approximately 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities (as defined by the Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer) for two years to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination. Applications are due on April 20th. Eligibility is limited to local municipalities, with consideration given for localities with high social vulnerability.

Deadline Extended for CMS Rural Transformation Project. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the application due date for its new, rural-focused Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model Community Transformation Track to May 11. Optional Letters of Intent are due April 13. This voluntary payment model, the first of its kind from the CMS Innovation Center, will test whether upfront investments, predictable capitated payments, and operational and regulatory flexibilities will enable rural health care providers to improve access to care while reducing health care costs. Selected participants will have 15 months to collaborate with local partners and develop a Community Transformation Plan.

AHRQ Data Request: Improving Rural Health Through Telehealth-Guided Provider-to-Provider Communication. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is seeking published and unpublished scientific information to inform their review of this subject. Key questions in the review include those about the effectiveness of provider-to-provider telehealth and about effective implementation strategies. Submit information to AHRQ’s Evidence-Based Practice Centers Program on or before April 1.

ERS on COVID-19 and Rural America. The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzes county-level data on the prevalence of COVID-19 and local employment rates. A second report takes a closer look at the impact on counties where meatpacking accounts for more than 20 percent of employment.

CRS on Broadband Provisions passed by Congress. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate. This report provides information on each federal program included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, designed to increase broadband availability for underserved areas of the United States.

ONC Reports on Interoperability of Electronic Health Records. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) published a data brief examining rates of interoperability by hospital size, type, method of interoperability, and suburban-urban status.

Share Your Thoughts and Opinions on Health – Respond by March 15. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking English-speaking people living in rural areas to participate in virtual discussions about health. The purpose of these discussions is to obtain consumer feedback on newly developed health materials. HRSA is open to speaking with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Sessions will be held in March and May via Zoom and will last approximately 90 minutes. All who participate will receive monetary token of appreciation. If you or someone you know may be interested, please have them contact Heidi.Palacios@SchlesingerGroup.com or call (972) 503-3100 x- 407. Feedback from rural populations will help HRSA create easy to understand health materials for everyone.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: March 4, 2021

Resources from CDC National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a three-day event to promote the most effective strategies for building confidence and increasing access to the vaccine nationwide. Resources, including recordings of the forum’s sessions and a toolkit for community outreach, are now available. Learn more about the role of the Health Resources and Services Administration in the effort, including distribution of vaccines to 250 health centers nationwide.

New Telebehavioral Health Care Best Practice Guide. Telehealth.HHS.gov has added a new best practice guide to help mental health providers navigate changes to telehealth policy due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. This official website from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services includes resources for getting started, developing a strategy, billing, preparing patients, and more.

ERS on Disparities in Educational Attainment in Rural America. The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, among all rural residents aged 25 years or older, the percentage who had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher rose from 15 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2019. Ethnic disparities persist in what is considered a leading social determinant of health, with Whites completing high school and bachelor’s degrees at much higher rates than those who are Black, American Indian, or Hispanic.

CDC on Changes in Suicide Rates. In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention report that more than 47,000 deaths were attributed to suicide in 2019. For the first time in a decade, the overall suicide rate from 2018 to 2019 declined. The lowest rate was found in large central metropolitan areas, and the highest in nonmetropolitan areas. Firearms were the most common mechanism of suicide in all county urbanization levels. 

Share Your Thoughts and Opinions on Health – Respond by March 15. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking English-speaking people living in rural areas to participate in virtual discussions about health. The purpose of these discussions is to obtain consumer feedback on newly developed health materials. HRSA is open to speaking with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Sessions will be held in March and May via Zoom and will last approximately 90 minutes. All who participate will receive monetary token of appreciation. If you or someone you know may be interested, please have them contact Heidi.Palacios@SchlesingerGroup.com or call (972) 503-3100 x- 407. Feedback from rural populations will help HRSA create easy to understand health materials for everyone.