Webinar: HRSA Telehealth Learning Series: An Overview of Licensure Compacts

Date: May 17, 2021

Time: 11:30 AM CT


Webinar Objectives:

  • Share information on Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) programs and resources that support licensure compacts and telehealth
  • Provide an overview of the following licensure compacts:
    • Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)
    • Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC)
    • Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT)
    • Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Compact
    • Physical Therapy (PT) Compact
  • Share legislative/regulatory updates regarding licensure compacts
  • Discuss the importance of interstate licensure compacts as a method for increasing access to care and addressing workforce shortages
  • Highlight examples demonstrating how expedited licensure processes have allowed physicians and other health care professionals to extend their reach by leveraging telemedicine

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.

Site Application Tips: Gathering Your Sliding Fee Documentation

New NHSC Site Application closes on May 25.

One of the key pieces of your application documentation is for the Sliding Fee Discount Program. You need to upload the following as part of your application:

  1. Policy on the Sliding Fee Discount Program — should apply to all residents of your site’s Health Professional Shortage Area(s) (HPSA(s)) and include the following information:
  • Definitions of income and family size
  • Patient eligibility procedures
  • Frequency of re-evaluation of eligibility
  • Advertisement of the sliding fee discount program to the patient population
  • Nominal charge (if applicable)
  • Collections policy (if applicable)
  1. Sliding Fee Schedule
  • Based on most current Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)
  • It is calculated based on Family Size/Income
  • Goes up to at least 200% of FPG
  • Offers full discount for families with income at or below 100% of FPG
  • Adjust fees based on family size and income for families with incomes above 100% and at/below 200% of the FPG.
  1. Patient Application for Sliding Fee Discount Program
  2. Posted Signage Notifying Patients about the Sliding Fee Discount Program

Remember: eligibility for the Sliding Fee Discount Program at National Health Service Corps (NHSC)-approved sites must be based solely on family size and income. Please be sure your documents reflect this important feature of NHSC.

For additional information about Sliding Fee Discount Program documentation, review pages 9-13 of the 2021 NHSC Site Reference Guide.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge Winner & Runner-Up Announced

May 1, 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that ClosedLoop.ai was selected the winner and Geisinger the runner-up in the agency’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Health Outcomes Challenge. This multi-stage competition, operated by CMS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center) in collaboration with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and Arnold Ventures, began in 2019 with the aim of accelerating development of AI solutions for predicting patient health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries for potential use by the Innovation Center. The competition has significantly broadened the Innovation Center’s knowledge of AI and its potential applications, which will help the CMS Innovation Center better design and implement future models as part of its mission to test innovative payment and service delivery models.

Out of more than 300 initial entries, ClosedLoop.ai was chosen as the grand prize winner and will receive up to $1 million in prize money. Based in Austin, Texas, the company is a leader in developing healthcare data science solutions. Challenge Runner-Up Geisinger, a non-profit healthcare system based in Danville, Pennsylvania, will receive up to $230,000 in prize money.

ClosedLoop.ai and Geisinger were among the seven finalists chosen in October 2020 to take part in the final stage of the competition. In this last stage, the participants further refined the solutions that they developed in the prior stage to help predict unplanned hospital and skilled nursing facility admissions and adverse events, and additionally developed predictive algorithms to identify beneficiaries at risk of mortality in 12 months. The finalists worked to address sources of bias in their solutions that could have the potential to affect health disparities in their submissions. The finalists also demonstrated how their solutions would easily explain the predictions to clinicians.

More information on the CMS AI Health Outcomes Challenge is available at: https://innovation.cms.gov/innovation-models/artificial-intelligence-health-outcomes-challenge.

Deadline Extended: NHSC Loan Repayment Program – Thursday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET

May 3, 2021

The deadline to submit applications for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program is extended until Thursday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Health Resources and Services Administration is excited to award a record number of clinicians this year thanks to additional funding through the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan. Don’t wait – apply today!

Get specific details on eligibility and how to apply on the NHSC website.

$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

Special Marketplace Enrollment Period

April 30, 2021

There is a new Special Enrollment Period for consumers to enroll in a Marketplace health insurance plan, assistance available for consumers in paying for health coverage, and an upcoming funding for navigator programs. This is an opportunity to reduce the number of uninsured rural Americans and to lower premiums for those already enrolled in Marketplace coverage who qualify.

Rural areas face multiple challenges. Consumers in rural areas are less likely to have health insurance compared to those in urban areas (14.6% vs. 12.2% in 2017), and rural consumers in states that did not expand Medicaid are even less likely to have health insurance than those in states that did expand (18.0% vs. 11.1%). Rural residents also tend to have shorter life expectancies and higher prevalence of chronic conditions than those in urban areas. Compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts, non-Hispanic Black and American Indian rural residents reported having worse self-rated health.

Enrolling more eligible people into the Marketplace at this time produces a number of benefits. It helps rural residents receive needed coverage, and it ensures that health care providers are reimbursed, which reduces their bad debt and helps their financial bottom line. Engaging in outreach and encouraging enrollment is a way to generate revenue for your community or hospital.

From now until August 15, 2021, residents who live in the 36 states that use Healthcare.gov can sign up for or change their health insurance through a Special Enrollment Period due to COVID-19. No qualifying life event, such as marriage or moving, is required, and coverage starts the first day after the month of enrollment. Residents that live in states that run their own Marketplace websites may also be offering similar options, so check your state’s website for more information.

In addition to this window for enrollment, more people will qualify for help paying for health coverage, even those who were not eligible in the past. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 increases premium tax credits for all income brackets for coverage years 2021 and 2022. As a result, most people will see lower premiums, and many consumers with household incomes from 100% to 150% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) would have $0 premium plans (after tax credits) available to choose from when considering their options and selecting a plan. Some households earning more than 400% of the FLP may also qualify for tax credits to help pay for 2021 Marketplace coverage as well as taxpayers who receive unemployment compensation during any week beginning in 2021.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) created resources to support outreach and enrollment:

  • There is a PowerPoint presentation with a communication plan detailing target audiences and key messages;
  • cms.gov has Fact Sheets in 11 languages, social media posts, a tv ad, video, and fillable flyers that explain the Special Enrollment Period; and
  • This Fact Sheet explains the details of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.