Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

March 5, 2020

What’s New

New Data on Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States.  The National Vital Statistics System is the oldest and most successful example of data sharing  in Public Health across all levels of government.  Among the key findings in this most recent report on drug overdose deaths, is an overall decline of 4.1 percent between 2017 and 2018.  The rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) increased by 10 percent.

Updates on the Coronavirus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates on the Coronavirus with guidance for health providers and local public health officials.  See the Events section below for a CDC webinar taking place later today. 

Funding and Opportunities

PCORI Convening Stakeholders for Patient-Centered Research – April 1.  The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) will make awards of up to $100,000 for a one-year project that supports convenings with patients, researchers, clinicians, purchasers, payers, health system leaders, and other stakeholders.  Convenings should have a central focus or theme that unifies stakeholders, such as geography, health condition, or population such as rural, LGBTQ, or Veterans.  See the Research of the Week section below for more about PCORI’s work.

NIH Funding for Clinical and Translational Science – April 15.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has an interest in improving rural health outcomes for its awards to develop, demonstrate, and disseminate solutions to barriers that limit the efficiency and effectiveness of clinical and translational science.

DOJ Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence – April 27.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make seven awards of up to $1 million each to develop community-level support services for children exposed to violence.  Eligible applicants are state and local governments, federally-recognized tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education.

CDC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention – April 30.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 51 awards to state governments from a total investment of $110 million to  support blood lead testing and reporting, enhancing blood lead surveillance, improving linkages to recommended services, and developing policies for targeted, population-based interventions.

CDC Research to Prevent Firearm-Related Violence and Injuries – May 5.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make 20 awards with total funding of $24 million to support research into firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime, including mass shooting incidents, suicides/self-harm, and unintentional firearm deaths and injury.  Eligible applicants include public and private higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, Native American tribal organizations, and governments at the state and local levels.

DOJ Adult Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court Program – May 14.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 96 awards from total funding of $750 million to enhance the operations of adult drug courts and/or to implement new veterans treatment courts. Local courts should integrate evidence-based substance abuse treatment, random drug testing, and equitable sanctions and incentives.

DOJ Comprehensive Substance Abuse Site-Based Program – May 21.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 120 awards with total funding of $156 million to develop, implement, and/or expand comprehensive programs in response to illicit opioids, stimulants, or other substances of abuse.  Rural and Tribal applicants should apply under Subcategory 1c for projects in rural areas, small counties, and Tribal areas with a population of fewer than 100,000.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

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

Comments Requested: DEA Proposes Registration Changes for Mobile Narcotic Treatment Programs – April 27.  On February 26, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a proposed rule to ease registration requirements for narcotic treatment programs (NTPs) that dispense methadone, a schedule II controlled substance.  DEA proposes to allow registered NTPs to deliver methadone maintenance or detoxification treatment in remote locations without requiring separate registration at each location.  More than 1,700 NTPs are registered with DEA, including all SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment programs (OTPs).  DEA explains that the change could make methadone treatment more widely available in rural and other underserved communities.  In 2011, 88.6% of non-metropolitan counties had a shortage of OTPs in 2011 compared to 68.6% of metropolitan counties, and residents of non-metro counties in five states had to drive more than 40 minutes longer than their metropolitan peers to reach an OTP in 2017.

New Medicare ACO Beneficiary Engagement Case Studies and Video.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a new video and case studies that provide ideas and strategies promoting value-based care in current and prospective Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  These resources highlight how ACOs can provide nonclinical support for beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease (ESRD); maintain patient advisory committees to improve care for beneficiaries with ESRD; and leverage health navigators to identify and resolve care gaps for beneficiaries in rural areas.

Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Preparing for Coronavirus in the United States – Thursday, March 5 at 2:00 pm ET.  During this hour-long call, clinicians will learn what they can do to prepare for Coronavirus Disease, including identifying persons under investigation, applying infection prevention and control measures, assessing risks for exposures, optimizing the use of personal protective equipment, and caring for patients.

Addressing Stigma and HIV in Primary Care Settings – Thursday, March 5 at 3:00 pm ET.  In this one-hour webinar hosted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), experts from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the HRSA-funded Southeast AIDS Education Training Center will discuss various forms of stigma and how it impacts patient outcomes. They will also share stigma reduction resources to assist health centers providing services to people living with HIV.

AgriSafe: Wellness for Veteran Farmers – Thursday, March 12 at 2:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network presents an hour-long talk about the challenges to veterans returning to agricultural work..

HRSA on National Poison Prevention Week – Monday, March 16 at 2:00 pm ET.  Among the leading causes of death for rural Americans identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional poisoning is a high risk with a low level of attention and care.  In this 90-minute webinar, the Office of Regional Operations at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will share information on the network of local Poison Control Centers and ways to raise awareness of poison prevention efforts.

Prevention Technology Transfer Center on the Opioid Crisis in Rural Areas – Tuesday, March 17 at 2:00 pm ET.  The 90-minute webinar will feature public health experts sharing insight on life events, traumas, and challenges that may contribute to opioid misuse for people living in rural communities.

NTIA American Broadband Initiative – Wednesday, March 18 at 2:00 pm ET.  The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) will provide an update on its effort to build a National Broadband Availability Map.  Experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service will discuss the ReConnect program and some of the agency’s regulatory changes that affect broadband permitting.

Indian Health Service Access2Success Small Business Conference – March 18-19 in Phoenix, AZ.  The Indian Health Service and the HHS Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization invite Native-owned companies eligible for federal contracts under the Buy Indian Act and companies who are seeking to partner with firms eligible under the Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise set aside or Indian Economic Enterprise set aside programs. Businesses can attend matchmaking sessions with tribal and federal representatives. Companies offering products and services in information technology, medical supplies and equipment, construction, architectural and engineering services, and health care staffing services are encouraged to attend. Registration is now open, but space is limited.

Register for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, March 30 – April 5. This week-long event is aimed at raising teenagers’ awareness and knowledge of facts about drug and alcohol. Launched in 2010 by scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the annual observance relies on locally-planned school and community events that present scientific facts about drug and alcohol use, what causes addiction, and evidence-based strategies for helping friends or family.  NIDA provides an online guide for planning and promoting events, as well as free booklets and other resources for teens.  Research from 2016 showed that roughly 10% of rural teens meet criteria for alcohol use disorder.

Resources of the Week

Wellness Funds: Flexible Funding to Advance the Health of Communities.  The accountable communities for health (ACH) model is a multi-sector, community-based partnership that brings together health care, public health, social services, and other sectors such as education and the justice system to collectively address priority health and social issues.  To promote Wellness Funds that help build ACHs, the Funders Forum on Accountable Health created this support to explain the model and provide case studies on the work of three communities, two of them rural.

PCORI Research on Community Health Worker/Peer Provider Programs.  This report reviews results from nine recent studies funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) on community health workers (CHWs) and peer providers (PPs) as effective participants in addressing health and healthcare inequities, particularly for diverse communities.  Each study presented focuses on a distinct function of utilizing CHWs and/or PPs such as mentoring, managing chronic conditions, and navigator support for serious mental illness and depression.