Rural Health Network Development Planning Program

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded approximately $2 million to twenty awardees for the 2020 Rural Health Network Development Planning (Network Planning) Program.

The Network Planning program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) focuses on the planning and development of integrated health care networks, specifically network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts in order to (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The intent is that rural health networks will expand access to care, increase the use of health information technology, explore alternative health care delivery models, and continue to achieve quality health care across the continuum of care from prevention and wellness, to acute and long-term care.

Recipients from 15 states received up to $100,000 for a one-year project period that will focus on building, strengthening, and formalizing integrated health care networks and systems, developing training cooperatives, conducting community health needs assessments, increasing service capacity, addressing behavioral health conditions, and addressing the opioid epidemic. You can view the list of awardees here.

With FORHP support, these organizations will work towards becoming operational and sustainable beyond the one-year project period, achieving long-term outcomes such as increasing their focus on showing value in health care delivery creates incentives to develop regional systems of care that preserve local autonomy for rural communities while also ensuring access to the appropriate continuum of care for the local service population. These funded organizations are helping to change how health care is being delivered in rural communities.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Jillian Causey: or 301-443-1493

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcement

July 2, 2020

FORHP Awards Rural Health Network Development ProgramThe Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has recently announced that 44 rural health networks were awarded approximately $13 million for the new competitive funding cycle of the Rural Health Network Development (RHND) Program.  The RHND Program is a three-year grant program designed to provide support to integrated health care networks who address the health care needs of their rural communities. Recipients are expected to achieve efficiencies, expand access to and improve the quality of essential health care services, and strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. Awarded applications range in a variety of focus areas including care coordination, value based care, chronic disease management, and behavioral health services. As FORHP continues to focus on sharing program outcomes, the identification and dissemination of rural evidence-based models maintains a priority. The Rural Health Information Hub (RHI hub) consists of a number of resources, including successful program models and evidence-based toolkits.

COVID-Related Provider Relief Funds for Medicaid and CHIP Providers – July 20.  Providers participating in state programs for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may still apply for emergency funding related to the pandemic distributed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to support the health care safety net. The initial Medicare-targeted General Distribution of funds through the CARES Act and the Payment Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided payments to nearly 320,000 providers who bill for Medicare fee-for-service. The Medicaid and CHIP Targeted distribution will make the Provider Relief Fund available to an additional 800,000 providers. The payment to each provider will be at least two percent of reported gross revenue from patient care; the final amount each provider receives will be determined after the data is submitted. Applicants must submit their data in the online portal created for this purpose by July 20. 

ONDCP Rural Community Toolbox.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) developed this resource to serve as a clearinghouse for funding, technical assistance, and other information from 16 Federal departments and agencies to support local action against opioid use disorder (OUD) in rural America. The toolbox also houses a Community Assessment Tool, which gives county-specific data about overdose deaths and factors that may make a community more vulnerable to OUD, and a Rural Community Action Guide, providing rural leaders with recommended action steps to address OUD in their communities.

NACo: Nursing Homes & COVID-19The National Association of Counties (NACo) gives an overview of COVID-19 cases in nursing home facilities across the U.S., many of which are county-owned and operated. The brief is a resource for counties on federal guidance, policies, and data and includes a case study on expanding testing in rural Linn County, Oregon.

Request for Information: NIH Seeking Input on Health Disparities in Neurological Disease and Care – July 15.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks input from scientists, clinicians, patients, families, caregivers, advocates, and the broader community on the most important knowledge gaps, health and research needs, and promising opportunities to help guide the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s (NINDS) research. These disparities and inequities may exist across several demographic factors, including race/ethnicity, food/housing insecurity, socioeconomic status, geographic location, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, educational attainment, age, disability, etc. Responses are encouraged from all interested stakeholders.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders, updated regularly. 

COVID-19 FAQs and Funding for HRSA Programs.  Find all funding and frequently asked questions for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance, and ongoing Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA). New this week: a COVID data tracker map includes county-level data on cases and deaths

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data and maps on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning January 21.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has created a guide to help you learn about activities underway to address COVID-19.

Webinar: Swing Bed and The Best Way to Improve Your Outcomes: Transitional Care developed by Mayo Clinic & Select Medical

Date: August 6, 2020

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Central


Allevant, a joint venture between Mayo Clinic and Select Medical, helps Critical Access Hospitals thrive by developing post-acute Transitional Care programs using available Swing Beds. Focused on helping patients transition to their highest level of independence, Transitional Care is a program that involves the patient and family, makes available the full resources of the Critical Access Hospital and focuses on measured outcomes and evidence-based processes to ensure patients get the best care possible. The Transitional Care Program is centered on teamwork, communication, and collaboration. Along with project management, staff training and education, a quality database, and process improvement; Allevant also provides marketing support and referral education to help Critical Access Hospitals grow their Swing Bed volume.

What you will learn:

  • Participants will be able to understand the value of developing high-quality Post-Acute Transitional Care in Critical Access Hospitals in response to a growing patient population and demands and challenges in acute care hospitals.
  • Participants will be able to begin to quantify the opportunity, understand the key steps to initiate, implement and track progress in developing high-quality Post-Acute Transitional Care.

Participants will learn how Transitional Care is an effective way to incorporate population health, chronic disease management, and wellness.

Webinar: 5 Steps to Combat Rural Healthcare’s Financial Challenges Amid COVID-19

Date: July 30, 2020

Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Central


Over the past 10 years, the rural hospital crisis has led to the closure of 120 facilities with 2019 yielding a record year of 18 closings. According to recent Guidehouse analysis, 25 percent of the 1,430 rural hospitals across the country are at high risk of closing unless finances improve.

Rural community and critical access hospitals face different operational challenges than larger, urban counterparts. To successfully address these challenges, rural providers should implement personalized programs that engage and empower the patient as a consumer.

In this session, we will

  • Examine today’s rural health financial landscape
  • Identify five essential rural healthcare strategies to drive financial performance and patient experience

Pinpoint organizational changes necessary to successfully address rural-specific financial challenges.

Webinar: Preparing for Price Tansparency

Date: June 20, 2020

Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Central


In this webinar, we will review the background, intent, and final rule surrounding Price Transparency. We will also cover the requirements, consider the challenges, and evaluate strategies to meet the hospital transparency mandates that will become effective January 2021.

New Brief: Provision of Mental Health Services by Critical Access Hospital-Based Rural Health Clinics

Residents of rural communities face longstanding access barriers to mental health (MH) services due to chronic shortages of specialty MH providers, long travel distances to services, increased likelihood of being uninsured or under-insured, limited choice of providers, and high rates of stigma. As a result, rural residents rely more heavily on primary care providers and local acute care hospitals to meet their MH needs than do urban residents. This reality highlights the importance of integrating primary care and MH services to improve access to needed care in rural communities. Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are ideally positioned to help meet rural MH needs as 60 percent manage at least one Rural Health Clinic (RHC). RHCs receive Medicare cost-based reimbursement for a defined package of services including those provided by doctoral-level clinical psychologists (CPs) and licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).

This policy brief explores the extent to which CAH-based RHCs are employing CPs and/or LCSWs to provide MH services, describes models of MH services implemented by CAH-based RHCs, examines their successes and challenges in doing so, and provides a resource to assist CAH and RHC leaders in developing MH services. It also provides a resource for State Flex Programs to work with CAH-based RHCs in the development of MH services.

**The report may accessed on the Flex Monitoring Team website.


New! Sustainable Community Care Coordination Guide

In today’s health care environment, having successful and sustainable care coordination programs will set organizations up for future success. The purpose of the Sustainable Community Care Coordination Guide is to provide a framework for rural organizations to actively plan for the sustainability of their already established care coordination programs. The guide takes you through a process of identifying community organizations to increase the effectiveness of coordination, identifying potential gaps in your care coordination process, and developing partnerships for continued success. Learn how to develop key messages about your program and gather the necessary data to show results.

The Guide is meant to be used with the following tools, all of which can be found here.

  1. Strategic and Marketing Thinking Canvas (Appendix A of the Guide): This first step will outline the things to consider throughout this process, along with a facilitation guide to help lead this process with stakeholders.
  2. Sustainable Community Care Coordination Workbook (Separate document): Use this tool to record the work as you move through the guide.
  3. Potential Partners Worksheet (Appendix B of the Guide): Use this tool to identify stakeholders both inside and outside of your organization.

If an organization does not currently have a care coordination program, please refer to the Care Coordination Canvas Guide first to help establish a care coordination program.