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.

$80 million will be available in grants to Federal Navigators in Marketplaces

April 30, 2021

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that $80 million will be available in grants to Federal Navigators in Marketplaces for the 2022 plan year. Details about the grant funding, including eligibility requirements and required Navigator duties, are available through the 2021 Navigator Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Forecast. The NOFO is expected to be posted June 1, 2021

Webinar: $1 Billion Health Center Capital Funding Opportunity Announced

Date: May 6, 2021

Time: 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM CST

Click here to join the Day of Session!

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing the availability of $1 billion for Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-Health Center Program funded health centers to support major construction and renovation projects across the country. The funding builds on President Biden’s commitment to ensuring equity in access to COVID-19 response efforts and high quality primary health care services.

Health centers that receive this funding will be able to use it for COVID-19 related capital needs and to construct new facilities, renovate and expand existing facilities, and purchase new equipment. Read the press release.

Applications are due in HRSA’s Electronic Handbooks (EHBs) by 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 24. Visit the American Rescue Plan funding for Health Center Construction and Capital Improvements technical assistance (TA) webpage for award submission guidance, information about upcoming question and answer sessions, and other resources.

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: NHSC Scholarship Program Q&A Session

Date: May 6, 2021

Time: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM CST

Click Here to Join and Ask a Question!

Note: The date has been changed from April 27 to May 6.

Have a question about the NHSC Scholarship Program? NHSC staff will be answering your questions May 6 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET. Drop in anytime and have your question answered right away. 

Reminder: The deadline to submit applications is Tuesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. 

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.

Now Open: Three Student Loan Repayment Programs and NHSC Scholarship!

April 14, 2021

HRSA’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) received a historic increase in funding, through the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan. The NHSC is recruiting for clinicians working at NHSC-approved sites and treatment facilities in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) for the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program and the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program. The additional funding means that eligible clinicians may receive NHSC awards, even at sites that have not been competitive in the past due to lower HPSA scores. In addition, the application cycle for the NHSC Scholarship Program for current medical, dental, and other clinician students, is now open. NHSC clinicians have always played a prominent role in addressing the nation’s public health, as they practice in underserved areas with limited access to primary health care, regular dental care, behavioral health care, and preventive screenings. The application closes on May 6, 2021.

The Nurse Corps Scholarship 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 received a historic increase in funding this year under the American Rescue Plan. With this additional funding, Nurse Corps anticipates making significantly more awards.

Are you pursuing a nurse practitioner degree in psychiatric mental health, or an advanced practice registered nurse or registered nurse (RN) degree in women’s health or certified nurse midwifery? Or are you a certified nursing assistant, home health aide, medical assistant, or licensed practical nurse working towards your RN degree? You may qualify for an award. Check your eligibility today. The application closes on May 6, 2021.

NRHA Scholarships

April 14, 2021

Click here to Apply!

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has scholarship funds available for students with a critical need for financial support with conference expenses.  Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, to individuals who meet the eligibility criteria specified on the enclosed application form, and who are unable to attend the Rural Medical Education Conference without such support.

In an effort to foster professional development, scholarships will be given to students currently enrolled in medical school or other health related fields of study.  The scholarships will help expose these students to emerging health issues and encourage their participation in resolving these issues through positive solutions.

The scholarship is to help cover the full cost of the conference registration for this virtual event.

Scholarship recipients will be notified of their award upon receipt and review of the application. Scholars will be registered by NRHA staff for the conference after they accept the award.  If a scholar has already registered for the 2021 Rural Medical Education Conference, NRHA will either reimburse them or roll over those funds towards another May NRHA event or future NRHA events.

Applicants meeting the eligibility criteria will be awarded scholarships on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds have been committed.

Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS)

April 12, 2021

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced measures to improve maternal health in the United States, one being the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program. HRSA expects approximately $3 million available to fund up to three health networks in this cooperative agreement program. The program intends to demonstrate the impact on access to and continuity of maternal and obstetrics care in rural communities through testing models that address the following RMOMS Focus Areas: 1) Rural Regional Approaches to Risk Appropriate Care, 2) Network Approach to Coordinating a Continuum of Care, 3) Leveraging Telehealth and Specialty Care, and 4) Financial Sustainability. The goals of the program are to: (i) improve maternal and neonatal outcomes within a rural region; (ii) develop a sustainable network approach to increase the delivery and access of preconception, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum services; (iii) develop a safe delivery environment with the support and access to specialty care for perinatal women and infants; and (iv) develop sustainable financing models for the provision of maternal and obstetrics care in rural hospitals and communities.

Moreover, this 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.

The applicant organization must be part of a group of entities that are either an established or a formal network, which may need to be expanded to meet this program’s network definition. A network is defined as an organizational arrangement among three or more separately owned domestic public and/or private entities, including the applicant organization. For the purposes of this program, the applicant must have a network composition that includes: 1) at least two rural hospitals or Critical Access Hospitals; 2) one health center under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or FQHC look-alike); 3) at least one Level III and/or Level IV facility (as defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists); 4) regionally and/or locally available social services in the continuum of care (i.e., state Home Visiting and Healthy Start Programs); and 5) the state Medicaid program.

Eligible applicants may request up to $1M each year in the program’s 4-year period of performance September 1, 2021 – August 31, 2025.

View on Grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=329770

For questions about this funding opportunity, please contact Cassandra Phillips: RMOMS@hrsa.gov