Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

October 29, 2020

Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace Begins November 1. The six-week period during which consumers may enroll in a health insurance plan using the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace begins on Sunday, November 1, and ends on Tuesday, December 15.  Those without an employer-based plan may visit HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov to shop for plans that will begin coverage on January 1, 2021. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have their own state-based websites for enrollment in individual/family or small business health coverage, or both. Some consumers may qualify for Medicaid coverage or a lower cost Marketplace plan depending on their state of residence and household size.

Expanded Provider Relief Fund Eligibility and Updated Reporting Requirements. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded the types of providers that are eligible for Phase 3 Provider Relief Funds (PRF) to include residential treatment facilities, physician assistants, and advanced practice nursing providers, among others. Providers may submit applications until November 6.  HHS also updated the reporting requirements and auditing instructions in response to stakeholder feedback.  This new guidance now allows providers to apply PRF payments against all lost revenues without limitation.

COVID-19 Hospital Data Coverage Report – Updated Weekly. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing weekly updates to the data set tracking whether hospitals, including rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), are completing their COVID-19 data reporting. As specified in recent guidance, hospitals and CAHs must report daily to the federal government, or to their state if they receive a written release from the state, a set of required data elements. Failure to do so will result in a series of enforcement actions over several weeks that could result in termination of the Medicare provider agreement. 

CRS: Medicaid Telehealth Policies in Response to COVID-19. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate. For this report, researchers examined how states have increased the number of services, provider types, and other telehealth options under Medicaid. 

Request for Information: Maternal and Child Health Bureau Strategic Plan – Respond by December 18. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration supports research and federal grant programs that ensure the health and well-being of mothers, children, and families. The bureau seeks feedback from the public about future plans for their work, including how MCHB can support efforts to eliminate disparities based on race, income, disability, and geography. 

New Telehealth Platform to Mobilize Health Care Workforce During COVID-19. ProviderBridge.org was created by the Federation of State Medical Boards through the CARES Act and the FORHP-supported Licensure Portability Program. The site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing by state as well as a provider portal to connect volunteer health care professionals to state agencies and health care entities.