Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

September 17, 2020

HHS Announces Awards for Opioid Response In Rural Communities. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced approximately $25 million in funding for two projects within the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative to reduce morbidity and mortality of substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) in high-risk rural communities. Of the awards made, approximately $15 million was awarded to 30 organizations to reduce the incidence of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome through the RCORP-NAS Program. An additional $10 million was awarded to 50 recipients to build partnerships and expand capacity for SUD/OUD treatment through the RCORP-Planning Program. The National Health Service Corps is a collaborator on the RCORP initiative to address SUD/OUD provider shortages in rural communities. These investments build upon RCORP awards made in August, reflecting a total fiscal year 2020 investment of nearly $115 million.

HHS Strategy to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its strategy to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine after one has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It focuses on four key tasks necessary to ensure access and the requirements for each. The primary task is to engage with state, tribal, territorial, and local partners, other stakeholders, and the public to communicate public health information, before and after distribution begins.

CDC:  Delay or Avoidance of Medical Care Because of COVID-19-Related Concerns. In its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presents findings of a survey conducted in June of this year. Researchers estimate that 41 percent of U.S. adults had delayed or avoided medical care because of concerns about COVID-19. Avoidance of urgent or emergency care was more prevalent among unpaid caregivers for adults, persons with underlying medical conditions, Black adults, Hispanic adults, young adults, and persons with disabilities. The findings indicate missed opportunities for management of chronic conditions, receipt of routine vaccinations, or early detection of new conditions, which might worsen outcomes.

Public Health Leaders’ Testimony on Vaccinations. Two of the nation’s top leaders in public health delivered testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) about the importance of immunizations for children and adults. Written testimony of NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and Surgeon General VADM Jerome Adams is available here on the HELP Committee’s website, and you may watch a recording of the full three-hour session.