Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcement

June 17, 2021

Customizable COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Rural Communities. This toolkit from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy- (FORHP) supported National Rural Health Resource Center helps rural community- and faith-based organizations, businesses, public health, schools, and health care organizations with internal and external COVID-19 vaccine communication materials. Organizations have easy access to customizable communication templates that include print ads, poster, brochure, social media posts, and an online resource guide.

HHS Awards $125 Million in Workforce Grants for Vaccination Efforts. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) awarded the first of two rounds of funding to bring health and social service workers to underserved communities. The funding will help community-based organizations hire and mobilize outreach workers, community health workers, social support specialists and others to help increase public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. 

New Study: Gap in Rural-Urban Death Rates Tripled Over Last 20 Years. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital used publicly available data for the years 1999 to 2019 and found an overall increase of more than 12 percent in age-adjusted mortality rates (AAMR) for rural residents aged 25 to 64 years. While death rates fell among Black individuals, this group had greater AAMRs than all other racial/ethnic groups across both rural and urban environments. The study, published last week in JAMA, was conducted before the outbreak of COVID-19; authors note the pandemic may have since exacerbated the rural-urban divide they observed.

SAMHSA Guide to Telehealth for the Treatment of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sought input from federal, state, and non-governmental experts for this guide to best practices.

New Reporting Requirements and Timeline for Provider Relief Fund (PRF). The Health Resources and Services Administration released revised reporting requirements for recipients of PRF funding. These revisions mean more flexibility for providers, and include expanding the amount of time providers will have to report information, reducing burdens for smaller providers, and extending key deadlines for spending PRF payments for those providers who received payments after June 30, 2020. The revised reporting requirements are applicable to providers who received one or more payments exceeding, in the aggregate, $10,000 during a single Payment Received Period. Providers are encouraged to register in the Reporting Portal before it opens with full reporting functionality on July 1. Learn more about the PRF reporting requirements.

AHRQ Social Determinants of Health Database. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) curated data from publicly available sources linked to county and zip code. The five key SDOH variables are social context (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, veteran status), economic context (e.g., income, unemployment rate), education, physical infrastructure (e.g, housing, crime, transportation), and healthcare context (e.g., health insurance).

AAMC Reports on Physician Supply and Demand. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects the future supply of active physicians, including projected demand for primary care or non-primary care specialties by urban or rural location.