Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: June 9, 2022

Technical Assistance Funding Available for Rural Emergency Hospital Model. In 2020, Congress created a new type of Medicare provider called the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) in response to loss of services due to rural hospital closures. The new designation will allow a Critical Access Hospital or small rural hospital with no more than 50 beds to convert to an REH with 24-hour emergency services, but no inpatient care. With this funding opportunity, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will award up to $2.5 million for one national center providing expertise to help rural hospitals determine if the REH model is right for their community and, if so, facilitate a successful transition. Read the policy brief on the Rural Emergency Hospital with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. 

RCORP Initiative Adds New Grant Recipients for Psychostimulant Misuse. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced nearly $15 million awarded to rural communities to continue addressing misuse of illegal and prescription drugs known as psychostimulants. These awards are part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative with $400 million invested since its start in 2018.

HRSA Makes Awards for the Rural Health Network Development Planning Program. HRSA awarded $1.9 million for this one-year, community-driven program designed to assist in the planning and development of an integrated health care network at the local level. By emphasizing the role of networks, the program creates a platform for both rural and urban medical care providers, social service providers, and community organizations to coalesce key elements of a health care delivery system and to improve local capacity and coordination of care. Administered by FORHP at HRSA, the Network Planning program is an opportunity for providers to use new and innovative approaches to care that may in turn serve as a model for other rural communities. The incoming cohort of Network Planning grantees have projects that focus on care coordination, health information technology/data analytics, behavioral health (including mental health and substance use disorder), elder care, and telehealth. Visit the Rural Health Information Hub online to learn more about successful program models and evidence-based toolkits that have come from the work of FORHP-funded projects.

Report Assesses RMOMS for Maternal Health. The Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program uses a networking model to improve outcomes for mothers and infants. The first grantee cohort, funded in 2019, included networks in Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas that provided prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care to 3,101 rural mothers. Grantees say that hiring patient navigators emerged as an early success strategy, and each of the networks laid the groundwork for expanded telehealth. More details about the grantees’ successes and challenges can be found in the full report.

Effectiveness of Telemedicine in Rural Appalachia. Researchers studied more than 100,000 patient visits at a primary care clinic in West Virginia between January 2019 and November 2020. The sample included 13,013 telemedicine visits to compare patient use and completion rates with in-person visits. 

NIH at the Intersection of Opioid Use and Criminal Justice. In 2019, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began supporting research on treatment for opioid use disorder in criminal justice settings. The Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) studies the effectiveness of new medications and other interventions as part of the NIH HEAL Initiative – Helping to End Addiction Long-Term. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the impact on rural areas: from 1999 to 2019,  the rate of drug overdose deaths in rural counties increased from 4.0 per 100,000 to 19.6. To show the government’s response and ongoing work, JCOIN created an interactive map of federal and state funding invested in this work nationwide. 

ERS State Fact Sheets. The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture released an update to its collection of state- and county-level data on agricultural data as well as population, income, poverty, food security, education, and employment.

Spread the Word About Maternal Mental Health. Promotional materials for the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline are available in English and Spanish for new mothers needing free, confidential support, and referrals to care.

Ongoing: HRSA Payment Program for RHC Buprenorphine-Trained Providers. In June 2021, HRSA launched an effort to improve access to substance use disorder treatment by paying for providers who are waivered to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) still have the opportunity to apply for a $3,000 payment on behalf of each provider who trained to obtain the waiver necessary to prescribe buprenorphine after January 1, 2019. Approximately $1.2 million in program funding remains available for RHCs and will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Send questions to DATA2000WaiverPayments@hrsa.gov. There is ongoing availability of a free online course for waiver eligibility training from the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine and the Providers Clinical Support System.