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 sites

Funding Opportunities

CMS Health Equity Awards – November 15.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Equity Award is an honorary award to recognize an organization that demonstrates a commitment to health equity by reducing disparities among the CMS beneficiaries they serve, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and those living in rural areas. The focus for the award in 2020 will be on organizations who can demonstrate they have reduced disparities in healthcare quality, access, or outcomes between two or more groups.

SAMHSA Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program – December 10.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will invest total funding of $9.2 million to promote mental and behavioral health among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth through the age of 24 years.  Eligibility is limited to federally recognized AI/AN tribes, tribal organizations, Urban Indian Organizations, or consortia of tribes or tribal organizations.  Up to 39 awards are anticipated, funding programs up to $250,000 per year for five-year projects.

SAMHSA Expanding Practitioner Education for SUD – December 16.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) asks public and private associations and schools for healthcare professionals to apply for this grant.  The purpose of the program is to expand education for substance use disorder in standard curriculums.

HRSA Primary Care Residency Training Program – January 24.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will invest $10 million to enhance residency training programs in family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, or combined internal medicine and pediatrics in rural and/or underserved areas, and encourage program graduates to choose primary care careers in these areas.  Eligible entities include accredited public or nonprofit private hospitals, as well as schools of allopathic medicine or osteopathic medicine

Rural Health  Research

Risk Factors and Potentially Preventable Deaths in Rural Communities. In this study, the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program examined three risk factors – smoking, obesity, and excessive alcohol use – to compare the rates of potentially avoidable deaths between rural and urban communities, how the rates vary by census region; and the relative contribution of certain risk factors such as smoking.

Quality Measures for Critical Access Hospital Swing Bed PatientsThe Social Security Act permits certain small, rural hospitals to enter into a swing bed agreement, under which the hospital can use its beds, as needed, to provide either acute or skilled nursing facility (SNF) care. Swing bed quality of care has received little attention since a 1990 study compared the quality of care in SNFs and swing beds. Recent studies have focused on the cost of swing bed care and on comparing swing bed and SNF patient characteristics and diagnoses. Swing beds also have not been included in recent national quality measurement efforts. The purpose of this study was to identify measures that can be used to assess the quality of care provided to Critical Access Hospital (CAH) swing bed patients with the goal of having these measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum and used by policymakers to help assess the value of CAH swing beds.

Policy Updates

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

No updates this week.


Learning Events and Technical Assistance

AgriSafe: Mental Well-Being for Famers and Farm Families – Thursday, October 24 at 1:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network hosts this one-hour webinar to address higher levels of depression among farmers and farm families and discuss culturally-competent approaches to mental health and well-being in rural agricultural communities.

Recovery and Medication Assisted Treatment – Thursday, October 24 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Learning Network will introduce Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and the role of federally-approved medications to treat opioid use disorders.  Experts will discuss how MAT fits into substance abuse treatment and recovery, identify the benefits and drawbacks of MAT, and address associated stigma.

Recognizing Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking – Friday, October 25 at 1:00 pm ET.  In a one-hour webinar, the National Center for Health in Public Housing will point out signs of domestic violence and human trafficking that can be identified by clinicians and staff in health settings.

HRSA Webinar: Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Thursday, October 31 at 1:00 pm ET.  Experts from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will discuss state-level efforts to address intimate partner violence and provide strategies for implementing trauma-informed care during this 90-minute webinar.

HRSA Webinar: Screening for Food Insecurity – Thursday, October 31 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Office of Regional Operations at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will host a one-hour webinar to help identify patients experiencing food insecurity and connect them to resources. In rural areas, access to nutritious food is often limited by financial and transportation constraints.

Approaching Deadlines

Comments Requested:  Proposed Changes to Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records – October 25

Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program – October 28   

Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas – October 31 

National Health Service Corps  Students to Service Loan Repayment Program October 31

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

Reducing Harm in High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas – November 1

Comments Requested: Rural Eligibility for FORHP Funding – November 2

Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship – November 6

EPA Technical Assistance for Small Public Water Systems – November 14

CMS Health Equity Awards – November 15

MAT-LINK: Researching Outcomes for Maternal OUD – November 15

PCORI: Community Convening for Patient-Centered Research – November 15

EPA Student Design Competition for People, Prosperity and the Planet – November 19

Rural Health Network Development Program  – November 25

HRSA Rural Health Network Development Planning Program – November 29

Bloomberg Public Health Fellows – December 1

Delta States Rural Development Grant Program  – December 6

SAMHSA Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program – December 10

NIH Strategies to Reduce Disparities in Rural – December 13

Partnership to Promote Local Efforts To Reduce Environmental Exposure – December 15

SAMHSA Expanding Practitioner Education for SUD – December 16

HRSA Primary Care Residency Training Program – January 24

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

Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021

Community Food Projects Technical Assistance – Ongoing

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