Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 14, 2018

What’s New

Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America. The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its atlas of rural areas with the most recent data available from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics on a number of socio-economic factors for the people who live in small towns.  The interactive map provides a pop-up window for each county with information on demographics, rural-urban classification, income, employment trends and status of veterans.  The 2018 County Health Rankings makes a direct correlation between these socio-economic indicators and health outcomes.

Rural Health  Research

Geographic Variation in Uncompensated Care Between Rural and Urban Hospitals. This brief just posted on the Rural Health Research Gateway reports on substantial differences in uncompensated care as a percent of operating expense between rural and urban hospitals and among regions of the country.  Researchers at the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center examined 2014-2016 Medicare Cost Reports and found that median uncompensated care costs declined across hospitals and Census regions. However, the costs increased for hospitals with less than $20 million in net patient revenue.  In 2016, the hospitals with the highest median uncompensated care as a percentage of operating expense were Critical Access Hospitals, other rural hospitals, and urban hospitals in the South.

Subscribe to research alerts from the Rural Health Research Gateway to be notified when new reports are available.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

Visit the FORHP Policy page to see all recent updates and send questions to ruralpolicy@hrsa.gov

Comments Requested: Rural Health Workgroup for Quality Measurement – July 2.  The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has been partnering with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Quality Forum (NQF) on the Measures Application Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup. The group was formed by CMS in 2017 to include the perspectives of rural providers and patients as those most knowledgeable about the challenges in rural areas to measuring performance in health care delivery.  The workgroup has developed recommendations and identified a core set of the best available (i.e., “rural relevant”) measures and identified rural-relevant gaps in measurement in the MAP Rural Health Draft Report 2 (pdf).  Those wishing to comment on these recommendations can create an NQF account and submit online.

Comments Requested: Increasing Investment in the Healthcare Sector – July 7.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS or the Department) seeks comment from the public on an effort to increase private sector innovation and investment in health care.  Specifically, the Department seeks input on the structure of a workgroup formed to increase dialogue and engagement between HHS and “those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry, such as healthcare innovation-focused companies, healthcare startup incubators and accelerators, healthcare investment professionals, healthcare-focused private equity firms, healthcare-focused venture capital firms, and lenders to healthcare investors and innovators.”  The request pertains only to the way such a workgroup may be convened and structured and seeks other ideas for ongoing public-private engagement.  Rural stakeholders may have something to contribute to specific areas of focus and inquiry for the workgroup, including perceived barriers to innovation and competition in the healthcare industry and the effect of HHS programs and regulations on rural areas.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 31, 2018

What’s New

Awards for Rural Health Care Services Outreach.  FORHP’s parent agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently awarded $11,961,114 to 60 rural communities for the 2018 Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program (Outreach Program).  This three-year, community-driven program requires collaboration between three or more local providers of health and/or social services to bridge together key elements of rural health care delivery.  The incoming cohort of Outreach Program awardees have proposed projects that will strengthen the health infrastructure using evidence-based strategies that have proven effective in other rural communities.  These projects will coordinate care and outreach to address health issues specific to the local population and must demonstrate improved outcomes and sustainability.  New to this program that started in 1991, is the Health Improvement Special Project (HISP), a collaboration between HRSA, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will use data to assess and track cardiovascular disease risk for a subset of individuals. Twelve of the new awardees will participate in this track.  To learn more about the objectives and approach of the Rural Health Care Services Outreach program, read about the projects that were funded in the 2015-2018 cohort.

New Requirements for Federal Grantees and ApplicantsIn March of this year, the U.S. General Services Administration announced actions to address fraudulent activity in its System for Award Management (SAM), which manages federally-funded grants.  At that time, GSA asked that all new organizations registering at SAM.gov submit an original notarized letter confirming identification of a grant recipient.  This requirement now applies to both new and existing entities registered with SAM.gov.  (Look for the small, red type toward the top of SAM’s home page.)

The Latest on Food InsecurityThe nonprofit Feeding America has issued its annual report on food insecurity, defined as the inability to reliably access a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.  Researchers looked at county-level data for a “better understanding of variations in local need to help communities develop more targeted strategies to reach people struggling with hunger.”  The findings report that 79 percent of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are rural.

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2018 Faculty Loan Repayment Program Application Now Open

May 25, 2018

Accepting applications through Thursday, June 28, 7:30 p.m. ET

Apply Here!

Apply today for the 2018 Faculty Loan Repayment Program!

The Faculty Loan Repayment Program provides individuals who have an interest in eligible health profession careers with the opportunity to receive loan repayment while serving as faculty members at accredited and eligible health professions schools.

Participants will receive up to $40,000 for two (2) years of service to repay the outstanding principal and interest of qualifying educational loans. Applicants must obtain all qualifying educational loans prior to the application deadline of June 28, 2018.

Before You Apply

Before you apply, read the annually updated Application and Program Guidance. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the contract.

Eligibility

To be eligible, all applicants must:

  1. Come from a disadvantaged background, based on environmental and/or economic factors,
  2. Have an eligible health professions degree or certificate, and
  3. Have an employment commitment as a faculty member at an approved health professions institution for a minimum of two years.

Application Help

Join our Faculty Loan Repayment Program Technical Assistance Call.
Thursday, June 7
3-4:30 p.m. ET
Dial-in: 1-888-889-4957
Passcode: 9769247

New funding opportunity

May 24, 2018

Access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages is essential to help all children grow up at a healthy weight. As advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers create policies and programs to promote the well-being of children, it is important to provide them with a body of evidence that shows the best approaches and strategies to improve children’s nutrition habits, dietary intake, and weight status.

Healthy Eating Research, an RWJF national research program, is funding $2.6 million toward research on actions and strategies that will help improve children’s physical, social, and emotional development through the consumption of healthy foods and beverages.

Proposals for studies that promote health equity and address disparities, such as high rates of overweight and obesity experienced by children from low-income rural and urban communities and racial and ethnic minority populations, will be prioritized.

Learn more about eligibility and an informational webinar

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 24, 2018

What’s New

Request for Proposals:  Outreach for COPD – June 8.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is seeking proposals for programs that increase awareness and understanding of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.  According to the COPD National Action Plan, this disease is a leading cause of death affecting 16 million Americans and millions more who do not know they have it.  COPD rates for rural areas are nearly double those for urban areas (8.2 versus 4.7 percent). Proposals will advance the COPD Learn More Breathe Better campaign and its aim to educate providers and patients about diagnosis and management.

Call for Abstracts:  SEARCH Telehealth Research Symposium – June 20.  The Society for Education and the Advancement of Research in Connected Health (SEARCH) is seeking abstracts for its 2018 Telehealth Research Symposium.  Submissions for podium presentations (short lecture and long lecture) and posters should focus on one or more of the following areas:  evidence-based research on connected health systems (e.g., telemedicine, telehealth, eHealth, mHealth), quality initiatives and telehealth measures, defining training programs and education, and care for seniors.  According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Math, telehealth drives volume, increases quality of care, and reduces the cost of health care for rural communities.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 26, 2018

What’s New

New USDA State Fact Sheets on Rural Economy.  The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently updated its state-by-state report on population, income, poverty, food security, and education.  The interactive map gives state-level data on these and other economic indicators, along with metro/non-metro breakouts within states.  Links to county-level data are provided where available.

Funding Opportunities

Improve Rural Youth Literacy – May 18. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) supports innovative literacy programs for youth from birth through high school in high-needs schools and districts in the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program.  ED will give priority points to applications proposing high-quality literacy programs to students in rural school districts.  Eligible applicants include school districts serving populations at least 20% from low-income families, national not-for-profit organizations, or consortia of these.  Research has shown that education has a life-long impact on health and well-being, even reducing risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity that are prevalent in rural communities.

Relatives as Parents Program – June 13.  The Brookdale Foundation Group will provide $15,000 seed money for state and local programs that support grandparents and other relatives raising children outside of a foster care system.  Recipients must establish a collaborative network with other support systems such as family services, child care, aging, education, legal, health care, mental health and extension services.  Public state agencies that receive the grant must match the funds 100 percent in cash or in-kind.  Many of the services considered important for positive child welfare outcomes are limited in rural communities, and there are reports that the opioid crisis is overwhelming foster care.  Earlier this year, the Agency for Children and Families issued a brief exploring special considerations for rural practice, including caseworker skills and availability, confidentiality and ethical practice, and the importance of cultural competency.

Resources for Tribal Self Governance Negotiation – June 17.  The Indian Health Service (IHS) will award $48,000 each for five cooperative agreements to offset the cost of negotiating participation in the Tribal Self Governance Program (TSGP). The TSGP allows tribes to tailor health care programs and services to meet the needs of their communities.  Negotiations are a tribally-driven process that requires careful planning and preparation.  The IHS will also make awards up to $120,000 to five organizations for Tribal Self Governance Planning.  The planning phase must include legal and budgetary research and internal Tribal government planning and organizational preparation relating to the administration of health care programs.  Applications for planning are also due on June 17.

Coordinating Research for Rural Opioid HIV Initiative – July 16 and August 15.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will select one public or private entity to provide scientific and technical support to its initiative on rural opioid use and infectious disease comorbidities. This interdisciplinary Coordinating Center will work with NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to analyze community-level datasets from NIDA’s rural opioid initiative and develop evidence-based practices.  The application deadline is August 15; letters of intent are due on July 16.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 12, 2018

What’s New

Rural Communities Opioid Response Funding Opportunity – Coming Soon.  HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy plans to award up to 75 grants to rural communities as part of a new Rural Communities Opioid Response initiative that will support treatment for, and prevention of, substance use disorder with a focus on the 220 counties identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at risk, as well as other high risk rural communities.  Successful awardees will receive $200,000 for one year to partner with at least three other entities and develop plans to implement opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations.  It is anticipated the Notice of Funding Opportunity will be available on Grants.gov later this Spring 2018.  Please note that the process for registering for federal grants can take up to 30 days to complete. Learn more about how HRSA is addressing the opioid crisis with funding, resources and technical assistance.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 5, 2018

Funding Opportunities

National Health Service Corps Scholarships – May 10.  Health professions students in eligible disciplines can receive payment for tuition, fees and other educational costs as well as a living stipend in exchange for serving two years at NHSC-approved sites in medically underserved rural, urban and tribal communities.

AHRQ Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grant – May 26.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will award grants of up to $400,000 to support health services research projects. Specific priority areas of focus are 1) accelerating Patient Centered Outcomes Research, 2) making health care safer, 3) evaluating expansions of insurance coverage, 4) improving health care affordability, efficiency and cost transparency. Priority populations for study are those in inner-city and rural areas, including frontier areas.

Grants for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Programs – June 4.  The Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program helps rural communities use capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, the program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another. USDA will host webinars on April 19th and April 25th on eligibility rules and application requirements for the DLT Grant Program. Eligible applicants include most entities that provide education or healthcare through telecommunications including: most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, non-profits, for-profit businesses, and consortia of eligible entities. Applicants are required to provide a minimum 15% match and awards can range from $50,000 to $500,000. For more information contact dltinfo@wdc.usda.gov.

Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans – Ongoing.  The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) at the USDA provides financing for the construction, maintenance, improvement and expansion of telephone service and broadband in rural areas.  Eligibility includes rurally-located non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, state and local governments, and Federally Recognized Tribes.

Funding for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Projects –  Ongoing.  USDA Rural Development helps very small, financially-distressed rural communities with funding for predevelopment planning costs for water and sanitation infrastructure projects.  Eligible areas are those with a population of 2,500 or less, with a median household income below the poverty line, and includes Federally Recognized Tribes.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

March 29, 2018

What’s New

Health Equity Report for 2017.  This report from HRSA’s Office of Health Equity addresses disparities in three priority areas:  mental health, opioid use and childhood obesity.  It reports on trends in health equity and health disparities in the U.S., providing statistics and information on multiple program areas, including: maternal and child health, primary care, access, quality, HIV/AIDS, mental and behavioral health, chronic disease, health promotion, health workforce, rural versus urban, and geographic disparities.

Fraudulent Activity in Federal Grants Management System.  The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is supporting an active investigation by the GSA Office of Inspector General (OIG) into alleged, third party fraudulent activity in its System for Award Management (SAM), which manages federally-funded grants.  It has been confirmed that none of the HHS accounts were impacted.  However, effective immediately, all new organizations that want to register at sam.gov, must follow specific procedures.   These include requiring an original, signed notarized letter identifying the authorized entity administrator for the entity associated with the DUNS number before a new SAM.gov entity registration will be activated.

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MDA Foundation Grants Available

March 27, 2018

From the MDA Foundation

MDA Foundation Grant Program Now Accepting Applications

Started in 2012 and growing in funding each year, this essential grant program offers financial support to efforts that create better oral health for Missourians through educational programs, access-to-care initiatives and community collaborations. To date 22 grants totaling $24,307 have been awarded across Missouri.

The MDA Foundation invites member dentists, or organizations you are involved with, to consider submitting a grant application for funding to support community oral health programs and initiatives.

The application period for the 2018 grant program is now ​OPEN. We welcome your interest. Please read the grant guidelines before accessing the grant application. The 2018 grant application period will close on July 15, 2018. For questions, contact Paul Roberts at 573-634-3436 or paul@modentalmail.org.

Get more information on the MDA Foundation Grant Program here.