Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

August 22, 2019

What’s New

Comments Requested: Rural Access to Health Care Services – October 9. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks information from the public about measuring access to health care in rural communities. This Request for Information (RFI) supports the ongoing work of the HHS Rural Health Task Force that is seeking to identify the needs of rural communities, how to meet those needs, and what HHS policy changes can address those needs. Questions for public comment specific to rural communities include: what are the core health care services needed, what types and numbers of health care professionals are needed, what factors are important to identify core health services, and how should access to health care services be measured. People in rural communities face a range of health disparities, including greater obesity and disease burden in children and adults, higher mortality rates, and shorter life expectancy. Rural areas also have fewer health professionals per person compared to urban areas.

Agrisafe: Nurse Scholar Distance Education Program – Early Registration Ends August 23. Calling all nurses serving rural communities!  Get the tools necessary to help farmers and ranchers in your community, while earning 18 Continuing Nursing Education hours. The Nurse Scholar program is a distance learning opportunity available to rural nurses provided by experienced health and safety educators. Increase your knowledge base in prevention, identification, and assessment of diseases related to agricultural work exposures. Classes are in the form of webinars from September 4 – December 6, 2019 that can be viewed live or On Demand.

Funding Opportunities

Rural Health Network Development Program  – November 25. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a new Notice of Funding Opportunity for The Rural Health Network Development Program (Network Development). This program will support up to 46 applicant organizations, which are either public or nonprofit private rural entities who represent a network of three or more separate, existing health care entities. HRSA expects to invest approximately $13 million for this program to support integrated rural health care networks that combine the functions of the network entities and include skilled, experienced staff, with a high functioning network board, to address the health care needs of the targeted rural community.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: Bipartisan Policy Center Rural Health Task Force – September 7. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) has launched a Rural Health Task Force of leaders to develop and promote a rural health agenda. The task force will develop policy recommendations to: 1. Shore up the current rural health care system, including transforming critical access hospitals, small rural clinics, and rural hospitals to meet community needs; 2. Address barriers and opportunities for rural participation in new delivery models; and 3. Build on successful rural workforce and graduate medical education proposals. The BPC is encouraging public comments for solutions in these three areas, as well as other ideas that support reforming America’s rural healthcare system. Commentators may email policy ideas to ruralhealth@bipartisanpolicy.org.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

RHC TA Webinar on Becoming a Medical Home – Friday, August 23 at 2:00 pm ET. Are you interested in learning more about implementing the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model in a rural health clinic (RHC) setting? Joanie Perkins, the Chief Compliance Officer with North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville, Mississippi, will walk the audience through the things you should consider when thinking about becoming a PCMH. The webinar is offered free of charge as part of a cooperative agreement with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. No advance registration is required.

Center for Optimizing Rural Health Year 2: Application Process – Monday, August 26 at 1:00 pm ET. This webinar, hosted by the Center for Optimizing Rural Health (CORH) will go over the application process for the Vulnerable Rural Hospital Assistance Program (VRHAP). This HRSA-funded program aims to provide targeted in-depth assistance to rural hospitals so they may provide continued access to essential health services.  The application portal will open on September 3 and close on October 31.

Strategies for Addressing Vaccine Misinformation in the Practice – Wednesday, August 28 at 1:00 pm ET. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will host a webinar where practicing healthcare professionals will share their evidence-based strategies for recommending vaccines and addressing vaccine hesitancy in their practice. Research from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and from the Rural & Underserved Health Research Center suggest a lower vaccination rate in rural communities.

FQHC Webinar Series Part 3 – Telehealth and Mental/Behavioral Health – Tuesday, August 27 at 4:00pm ET. Part 3 of 3 for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) webinar series will focus on how telehealth can help deliver mental/behavioral health services. Telehealth has been shown to be an effective way in providing mental and behavioral health services and is one of the specialties many public and private payers will reimburse for if technology is utilized. Speakers from the Telehealth Resource Centers and a rural FQHC will explain how to integrate telemental/behavioral health into your organization. Get tips and hear stories from clinics who have successfully done so to help you establish your own program.

Community Facilities Applicant Guidebook Webinar – Wednesday, August 28 at 2:00 pm ET. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program has developed an Applicant Guidebook to help organizations and community leaders better understand the complex process and requirements to successfully develop and construct a new community facility and to assist them in developing successful funding applications. The Applicant Guidebook walks potential applicants step by step through the entire process of completing a sound loan application for the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program from the initial meeting with Rural Development staff and eligibility determination, to closing the loan and commencing construction. Each step in the process is explained with the help of flowcharts and checklists.

Unintentional Injury Death Rates in the United States – Thursday, August 29 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Rural Health Information Hub will host this hour-long webinar featuring experts from the National Center for Health Statistics discussing two recently released reports:  Unintentional Injury Death Rates in Rural and Urban Areas: United States, 1999–2017 and Urban–Rural Differences in Drug Overdose Death Rates, by Sex, Age, and Type of Drugs Involved, 2017. The presentation will cover historical trends and patterns by urbanization for unintentional injury deaths overall, with a more detailed look at motor vehicle traffic injuries, drug overdose, and falls.

HRSA’s Best Practices to Prevent Eating Disorders – Wednesday, September 11 at 1:00 pm ET. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is the sponsor of this 90-minute webinar focused on preventive medicine for eating disorders. Primary care providers will learn about evidence-based practices for managing patients with eating disorders, as well as guidelines for collaborating within an eating disorder specialty team. The course is a joint effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Office of Women’s Health.  Continuing education credits are available.

CMS National Training Program Workshops – Through September 12.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will hold five workshops around the country, each lasting 2-3 days, to increase knowledge about updates to the Medicare program.  Attendees of the workshops will learn about new changes and innovations for this program that provides significant support for rural health care delivery, including information on opioids and other current topics. Click for more information on the agendas in each of the five cities – Philadelphia, San Francisco, Chicago, Arlington, and Providence.

Save the Date: 3RNet 2019 Annual Conference – September 24-26 in Wichita, KS. The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) is a nonprofit organization that matches health care professionals to employers in rural and underserved areas.  Attendees of this annual two-day conference will network with other 3RNet members, learn strategies for rural recruitment and retention, and gain insight from experienced leaders in health professions staffing.  Last year, 3RNet made more than 2,500 clinician placements in rural, frontier, and underserved urban communities.

Approaching Deadlines

Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts Request for Proposals – Letters of Intent August 25

NRHA Rural Health Fellows Program – August 27

Comments Requested:  Proposed VA Center for Innovation for Care and Payment – August 28

Comments Request: Current Use of Telemental Health for Suicide Prevention in Emergency Department Settings – August 29

Comments Requested: FCC Proposes $100 Million Connected Care Pilot Program – August 29

AHA Rural Hospital Leadership Team Award – August 30

Bloomberg Public Health Fellows – Intent to Apply August 30

HRSA Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program – August 30

Pew/RWJF Community Opioid Response and Evaluation (CORE) Project – August 30

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program – Ongoing through August 2019

Comments Requested: CY 2020 Home Health Proposed Rule – September 9

NIH Research for Tobacco Control Policies – Letters of Intent September 11

Comments Requested: Methods for Assuring Access to Covered Medicaid Services-Rescission – September 13

Small Rural Hospital Transition Project – Letters of Intent September 15

Comments Requested: Specialty Care Models to Improve Quality of Care and Reduce Expenditures – September 16

Senior Corps Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – September 25

Comments Requested: Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Policy, Payment, and Quality Provisions for CY 2020 – September 27

Comments Requested: Proposed Updates to Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System – September 27

Comments Requested: ESRD and DMEPOS CY 2020 Proposed Rule – September 27

USDA Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program – September 30

Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program – October 28                                

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) – October 31

Rural Health Network Development Program  – November 25

HRSA Rural Health Network Development Planning Program – November 29

Bloomberg Public Health Fellows – December 1

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

Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021

SBA Guaranteed Loans for Small Business – Ongoing

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund – Ongoing

Seeking Nominations: National Advisory Committee on Migrant Health – Ongoing

HUD Hospital Mortgage Insurance Program – Ongoing

RWJF Investigator-Initiated Research to Build a Culture of Health – Ongoing

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