Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcement

March 14, 2019

What’s New

Raising Awareness of Colorectal Cancer.  March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, an observance that encourages regular screenings and healthy lifestyle changes to prevent colorectal cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is most often found in people who are 50 years old or older and affects both men and women of all racial and ethnic populations.  In its series of studies on rural health, the CDC found that nonmetropolitan counties had higher rates of incidence and death from cancers that can be prevented by screening.  Learn more about CDC’s Screen for Life: National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign that raises awareness about the importance of having regular colorectal cancer screening tests for men and women aged 50 years and older.

Funding Opportunities

DOJ Training and Technical Assistance for Violence Against Women – April 11.  The Office on Violence Against Women at the Department of Justice (DOJ) will provide grants and direct technical assistance to build and enhance the capacity of local response to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.  Several of the 39 purpose areas for the program (beginning on page two of the program guidance and application instructions) specifically address challenges in rural areas, while others concern culturally-competent outreach in minority communities.  A separate funding opportunity provides Grants to Tribal Governments for Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Solicitation – April 11.

CDC: Collecting Information for the National Violent Death Reporting System – April 15.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 32 awards for a total investment of more than $29 million to conduct surveillance of violence and to prevent violence through the National Violent Death Reporting System. Eligible applicants are state and local governments with the ability to collect data from three required sources: death certificates, toxicology reports from coroners/medical examiners, and law enforcement reports.  One reason violence is difficult to track and address in rural areas is that it often goes unreported.

SAMHSA Grants for First Responders to Opioid Overdose – May 6.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will provide grants to state, local and tribal governments to train first responders and members of other key community sectors to administer a drug or device for emergency treatment of known or suspected opioid overdose. Recipients will also establish processes, protocols, mechanisms for referral to appropriate treatment and recovery communities, and safety around fentanyl, carfentanil, and other dangerous licit and illicit drugs.

DOJ Opioid Affected Youth Initiative – May 7.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) will make ten awards of up to $1 million each to address public safety concerns, intervention, prevention, and diversion services for children, youth, and families directly affected by opioid abuse.  Eligible applicants are state and local governments, including federally recognized tribal governments who can develop partnerships with local justice systems, as well as health, education and social service organizations.

Rural Health  Research

Dying Too Soon: County-level Disparities in Premature Death by Rurality, Race, and Ethnicity.  In this brief from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center researchers found that the highest rates of premature death were observed in rural counties where a majority of residents were non-Hispanic Black or American Indian/Alaskan Native.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: Changes to Hospital Star Ratings – March 29. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to the Hospital Star Ratings System, a tool that provides consumers and patients with information on the safety and quality of hospitals, including rural hospitals. On March 6, CMS hosted a national call to discuss the changes. The recording will be available online.

Policy Barriers to Telehealth.  This report from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) gives a broad overview of the primary policy concerns relating to telehealth, including reimbursement, prescribing, malpractice coverage, licensing, and privacy and security.  A second release from CCHP is a Fact Sheet on Telehealth Reimbursement focusing on the policy concerns related to Medicare, Medicaid, and private payer telehealth coverage.  As the federally designated National Telehealth Resource Center on policy, the CCHP provides legislative and regulatory updates, expert analysis through policy briefs, as well as research catalogs and fact sheets on all matters that advance telehealth policy.

HHS: Best Practices and Barriers to SUD Treatment.  A patient’s initiation with treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) and subsequent engagement with recovery is used as a performance measure in this report from the analysis and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  Looking at data on Initiation and Engagement of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence Treatment (IET), commonly reported by health plans and used by Medicaid and Medicare programs, the study aimed to determine what variables may contribute to patients’ initiation and engagement in treatment, including individual, provider, health plan, and market and environmental factors. The study examines how these factors affect health plan performance on the IET measures for both commercial and Medicaid health plans and how initiation and engagement may be improved.

Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Addressing the Burden of COPD in Rural America – Thursday, March 14 at 2:00 pm ET.  In 2018, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed significantly higher estimates in rural areas of adult prevalence, Medicare hospitalizations, and deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition that makes breathing difficult. In this hour-long presentation, members of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services will discuss their report and recommendations on rural-urban disparities for COPD, and shed light on a patient’s perspective living with the disease.

#RuralHealthChat: Health Workforce Training and Education – Monday, March 18 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Rural Health Information Hub hosts this hour-long Twitter Chat featuring experts from HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy and Bureau of Health Workforce.  They’ll answer questions about why workforce development is so critical to rural health and discuss strategies for influencing students to choose rural practice.

Preventing Suicidal Behavior in Indigenous Communities – Tuesday, March 19 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a one-hour webinar to discuss prevention strategies for behavioral risk factors leading to high rates of suicide in American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) communities. Last year, the CDC reported that approximately 70 percent of the AI/AN population live in rural areas, and that suicide rates were 3.5 times higher than those among racial/ethnic groups with the lowest rates.

Agrisafe: Grain Safety Education for Rural Health – Wednesday, March 20 at 1:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network provides this hour-long train-the-trainer session to cover hazards and safety standards in grain bin operations.

Cross Agency Approaches to Preventing and Treating SUD – Wednesday, March 20 at 4:00 pm ET.  Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Academy for State Health Policy will share national recommendations on how state-level public health and Medicaid officials can launch and sustain partnerships that align policies, funding, staffing, and data across agencies to address SUD.

Resource of the Week

Mental Health in Rural Communities ToolkitThe newest resource from the Rural Health Information Hub compiles evidence-based and promising models to support organizations implementing mental health programs in rural communities across the United States, with a primary focus on adult mental health.

Approaching Deadlines

NIH/NIDA: Mobile Technologies for Substance-Use Treatment  – March 19

HUD Community Development for Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages – March 20

Increasing Access to HIV Primary Health Care Services – March 22

Comments Requested:  Physician-focused Payment Model for Rural Emergencies – March 22

HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development Program – March 25

SAMHSA: Expanding Capacity for Substance Use Disorder – March 25

Rural Health and Economic Development Analysis – March 27

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program – March 28

Comments Requested: Changes to Hospital Star Ratings – March 29

Indian Health Service Scholarships – March 29

Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program – March 29

SAMHSA: Underage Substance Use in Tribal Communities – March 29

Rural Primary Care SBIRT for Maternal Opioid Use – March 29

National Indian Health Board Health Policy Fellowships – March 30

ACL Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative – April 1

NIH: Small Business Innovations for Health Disparities – April 1

Comments Requested: Draft Report on Best Practices for Pain Management – April 1

Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility – EMS Supplement – April 5

CDC Immunization and Vaccine Programs for Children – April 8

CDC Research Grants to Identify Effective Strategies for Opioid Overdose Prevention – April 8

ARC Funding for Economic Revitalization in Appalachia – April 10

DOJ Training and Technical Assistance for Violence Against Women – April 11

DOJ Grants to Tribal Governments for Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction Solicitation – April 11.

OMH Hepatitis B Demonstration Grant Program – April 13

CDC: Collecting Information for the National Violent Death Reporting System – April 15

Full-Service Community Schools Program – April 15

NIH Grants to Translate Research Into Clinical Practice – April 15

USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants – Opioid – April 15

Nurse Anesthetist Traineeship Program – April 15

CDC Violent Death Reporting System – April 15

USDA Community Connect Grant Program – April 15

Strengthening Care for HIV and Opioid Use Disorder – April 16

SAMSHA Grants for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances – April 19

SAMHSA Grants Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health – April 19

HRSA Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Grant Program – April 22

SAMHSA: Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Minorities at High Risk for HIV/AIDS – April 22

NIH Summer Research Education Experience Program – April 23

Mary Kay Foundation Domestic Violence Shelter Grants – April 30

Comments Requested: CMS Proposed Updates to Interoperability & Patient Access to Health Data – May 3

Comments Requested: ONC Proposal for Interoperability of Health IT – May 3

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation (RCORP-Implementation)  – May 6

RCORP-Evaluation Funding Opportunity – May 6

HRSA Maternal Opioid Misuse Model – May 6

SAMHSA Grants for First Responders to Opioid Overdose – May 6

DOJ Opioid Affected Youth Initiative – May 7

NIH Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health – May 14

USDA Traditional Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program – May 15

Capacity Building for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research – May 31

USAC Telecommunications Program for Rural Health Care – May 31

USDA Rural Broadband Loan and Grant Program – May 31

Research for Smoking Cessation in Disadvantaged Populations – June 13

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program – Ongoing through August 2019

NIH: Research for Disparities Among Minority/Underserved Children – Cycles thru May 2020

Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021

Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans – Ongoing

Funding for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Projects –  Ongoing

Drinking Water and Waste Disposal for Rural and Native Alaskan Villages – Ongoing

HIT Strategies for Patient-Reported Outcome Measures – Ongoing

HIT to Improve Health Care Quality and Outcomes – Ongoing

Community Facilities Program –  Ongoing

Summer Food Service Program – Ongoing