HRSA Nurse Corps: FAQs: COVID-19 Impact on Your Sites & Clinicians

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, HRSA is actively working to address issues that affect our National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and Nurse Corps participants and approved sites. Our goal is to offer flexibility in our program requirements so participants and sites can focus on facing this public health emergency. Updates will be posted on our FAQs webpage.

If your NHSC and Nurse Corps service site is directly affected by COVID-19, contact a program analyst via the Customer Service Portal with questions on how to ensure program participants at your site remain compliant with their service obligation requirements or login any time to ask a question during this upcoming event:

COVID-19 FAQs for NHSC & Nurse Corps
Thursday, April 2
1:00 – 4:00 PM CST
Ask a Question

HRSA is providing the following program flexibilities to support program participants and service sites directly impacted by COVID-19. As a site Point of Contact (POC), you are responsible for accurately completing In-Service Verifications (ISV) and Employment Verification Forms (EVF) to ensure accountability for program compliance and reporting days away.

Below are examples of scenarios NHSC and Nurse Corps participants might face:

Currently employed NHSC and Nurse Corps clinicians:

If a clinician becomes sick, is self-quarantined, self-isolated, or is caring for an affected family member.

  • Participants who exceed or expect to exceed their allotted 7 weeks (35 workdays) of leave may request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). This will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period.

If a clinician’s employment status is affected (reduced hours, working offsite, changed to telehealth/telemedicine).

  • At the direction of their approved NHSC or Nurse Corps site, participants may request via the Customer Service Portal (*updated link):
  1. Approval of clinical service via telehealth/telemedicine to accommodate infection control, social distancing, or other appropriate measure to assist in meeting recommended outbreak reduction/control measures. NHSC providers may provide virtual check in services furnished through several communication technology modalities, such as telephone, audio/video, secure text messaging, email, or use of a patient portal;
  2. Temporary expansion of the maximum hours allowed for providing patient care in an approved alternative setting from eight to 40 hours (throughout the duration of the national emergency declaration). Alternative settings are required to be located in or on behalf of a Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) for Nurse Corps; or
  3. Permission to receive NHSC service credit for clinical care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at temporary locations.
  • Participants who are unable to meet the minimum clinical hour requirements for their full or half-time contracts due to reduced hours at their approved NHSC or Nurse Corps service site must utilize one of the options above to remain compliant. Otherwise, participants may account for the time not meeting their minimum hourly requirement as missed days (up to 35 workdays per service year) on their In-Service Verification or request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). Requesting a suspension will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period.

NHSC or Nurse Corps clinicians who become unemployed:

If a clinician is laid-off or furloughed due to a permanent or temporary site closure:

  • Participants who wish to provide services in support of this public health emergency may be allowed to voluntarily, or on a temporary basis provide primary care to patients impacted by COVID-19 at a temporary location. Emergency locations would require approval by HRSA and a Site Administrator/Point of Contact would be required to verify clinical service hour requirements are met.
  • Participants who are unable to meet minimum clinical hour requirements and anticipate exceeding their allotted 7 weeks (35 workdays per service year) of leave may request a suspension of their NHSC or Nurse Corps service obligation (up to one year). This will allow participants to remain compliant, while extending their obligation end date by a timeframe equal to the approved suspension period.

The flexibilities noted above are temporary/limited in time and specific to assisting in the COVID-19 response (i.e. not permanent, and not for something other than COVID-19 response). We will continue to update you on any additional provisions relating to participants who may be serving at your sites. Thank you for your commitment to providing care to the nation’s underserved communities.

CMS Update: Accelerated/Advance Payments for Medicare Providers

On March 28,  the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This program expansion, which includes changes from the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is one way that CMS is working to lessen the financial hardships of providers facing extraordinary challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensures the nation’s providers can focus on patient care.

You can find a copy of the fact sheet here: www.cms.gov/files/document/Accelerated-and-Advanced-Payments-Fact-Sheet.pdf

You can find a copy of the press release here: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-provides-financial-relief-medicare-providers

These and earlier CMS actions in response to COVID-19, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19, visit www.coronavirus.gov. For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/EPRO/Current-Emergencies/Current-Emergencies-page.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

March 12, 2020

What’s New

Congressional Research Service on HRSA Maternal Health Programs. The Congressional Research Service provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate.  For this report, researchers provide an overview of five maternal health programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), including the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program, a pilot program that aims to improve access to services in rural areas.

Updates on the Coronavirus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates on the Coronavirus with guidance for health providers and local public health officials.  Our grantees come from a variety of organizational settings. Some are community based and may represent small hospitals, clinics and non-profit programs.  Others are focused on telehealth and may be part of larger health systems or located in an academic setting with links to small rural hospitals and clinics.  We also fund States as well as rural health research centers, most of which have an academic affiliation. As a result, we recommend grantees follow the guidance of your home institution. Please stay in contact with your FORHP point of contact to keep us informed of changes in operations.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is monitoring and following the recommendations of the CDC, as well as guidance specific to federal agencies.  We are also monitoring the information and guidance provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is releasing information on administrative flexibility and the availability of new billing codes.

Meet the State of Missouri’s ‘2019 Community Star’

Congratulations!  to Shawn Hayden with the Clark Community Mental Health Center

for your 2019 Community Star nomination and being selected by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH),  as the state of Missouri’s Community Star!

 

NOSORH will include Shawn’s profile in this year’s publication of Community Stars eBook, scheduled for release for the first time at: https://www.PowerofRural.org, on the morning of National Rural Health Day on November 21, 2019. 

Please remember to visit https://www.PowerofRural.org for additional information to assist you in your celebration of National Rural Health Day.

Thank you for your service, and we hope that you will join us as we celebrate the #PowerofRural!

 

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

November 7, 2019

What’s New

SAMSHA Launches FindTreatment.gov.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched a newly designed website that will help connect those who are looking for substance abuse treatment with approximately 13,000 locations across the United States. Visitors can enter a ZIP Code to find nearby locations of state-licensed facilities, treatment options, payment and insurance information, and what to expect on the first call. Providers may fill out an application to list their facility.

November is National Diabetes Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them don’t know they have it. Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke; for people living in rural areas, the risk factors associated with diabetes are higher.  To raise awareness, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases encourages everyone to take a quiz – for themselves or someone else – to assess their risk of developing diabetes and the factors within their control.

AJPH Call for Papers on Rural Public Health – January 15.  The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) invites papers assessing the role of government policy in the status and revitalization of rural health.  They seek papers that describe rural health research, report on interventions in rural settings, assess the impact of laws and policies, and examine the human health impact of climate change in rural areas. AJPH also invites editorials and commentaries proposing ways to apply public health methods that have been successful in other regions of the world, describing potential sources of funding, and depicting a vision for a rural public health of the 21st century.  Potential authors should visit the AJPH website to review instructions for authors and specific guidelines for the various types of manuscript formats.

Funding Opportunities

USDA Disaster Relief for Community Facilities Program – While Funds are Available.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $150 million to help rural communities affected by natural disasters that occurred in calendar years 2018 and 2019. Applications will be accepted on a continual basis until funds are exhausted. The funds are supplemental to the USDA’s Community Facilities Program, which accepts applications on an ongoing basis through the USDA’s Rural Housing Service.  (See link for the Community Facilities Program in the Approaching Deadlines section below.) Continue reading “Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements”

Save the Date! National Rural Health Day 2019

November 4, 2019

 

Save the Date!  November 21, 2019

 

National Rural Health Day (NRHD) on November 21, 2019 is a great time to get the word out about your good work to improve health and care for the people you serve across the state.

There are lots of resources available to you; start by checking out the free Community Stakeholder Toolkit – that includes coloring books, table tents, press releases and other resources to help you plan and publicize anything your planning to do on that day.

Share Your Bright Idea!  The Missouri State Office of Rural Health and National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) would like to hear from you! Are you planning an event on NRHD? Do you have a unique idea you’d like to share?

During the weeks leading up to NRHD, both our office and NOSORH would like to share your ideas on social media.  **Please send your ideas and any pictures you may have to us at: Lisa.Branson@health.mo.gov, and we will post them on the Missouri Office of Rural Health and Primary Care’s website located at: https://health.mo.gov/living/families/ruralhealth/index.php.  If you would like to share them nationally with NOSORH please Click here to submit your idea.

Thanks for all you do, everyday!

 

Celebrating National Rural Health Day – Upcoming Events

November 4, 2019

Starting November 7, The Providers documentary will be available for free screening (note: host a public screening as a cool way to celebrate National #RuralHealth Day)! All you have to do is register at powerofrural.org to receive your viewing code.

Then, be sure to join the NRHD live web event “The Art of Telling Your Power of Rural Story” on November 21, to discuss the film! #PowerofRural

 

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Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

October 24, 2019

What’s New

A Guide to Telehealth Laws and Policy in 50 States.  This annual report from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) is the most current guide of Medicaid provider manuals, state laws, and regulations for telehealth in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Key findings this year include reimbursement for some form of live video in all states and DC, and 22 states with reimbursement for remote patient monitoring.  The report includes an interactive map of policies as well as an at-a-glance infographic.

Challenges to Mapping Broadband Availability.  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) serves all congressional committees and Members of Congress by analyzing all aspects of current policies and the impact of proposed policy alternatives.  In this report, the CRS identifies the federal agencies involved in mapping broadband access across the United States, and factors contributing to the urban/rural digital divide.  The Federal Communications Commission currently has a map that shows residential internet service connections per 1,000 households and the CRS report seeks to make it easier to understand how rural areas are impacted.

Disrupting Food Insecurity.  Researchers at the Urban Institute identified several factors that contribute to a higher rate of insecurity in rural areas.  Their report features an interactive map with county-level data on these risk factors and a rural-specific list of facts and resources to disrupt food insecurity.

HHS Celebrates National Rural Health Day on November 21 .  This annual observation that takes place on the third Thursday each November was created to increase awareness of rural health-related issues and challenges and to recognize those who are working to improve the health and wellbeing of the millions of people living in America’s rural communities. During the week of November 18-21 there will be a special webcasted celebration featuring leaders of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, twitter chats, webinars, and a virtual job fair for rural healthcare sitesContinue reading “Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements”