Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

December 3, 2020

Updated Provider Relief Funds FAQs. In support of the national response to COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is distributing $175 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Provider Relief Fund (PRF) to hospitals and healthcare providers. The PRF Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) provide guidance to recipients regarding terms and conditions, attestation, reporting and auditing requirements, and the general and targeted distributions. On November 18, new questions were added under the headings Use of Funds and Miscellaneous.

Indian Health Service (IHS) Pandemic Vaccine Plan. The plan details how the IHS health care system will prepare for and operationalize a vaccine when it becomes available. It also provides important guidance for all IHS federal tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations that choose to receive COVID-19 vaccine coordinated through IHS.

HHS Request for Information on Redundant, Overlapping, or Inconsistent Regulations – December 21. On November 27, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from the public to improve existing regulations, and eliminate unnecessary or duplicative regulations, through future exercise of rulemaking authority. As this RFI seeks input on regulations issued by any HHS office or agency, those responding may consider addressing regulatory issues of particular interest to rural health.

HHS Request for Information on Best Practices in Response to COVID-19 – December 24. There are a number of innovative programs, policies, and best practices that prevent and mitigate the consequences of COVID–19 in urban and rural areas, while also preserving access to healthcare services for non-COVID-19 medical conditions. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requests information on these innovative approaches and best practices in health care for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 conditions to inform and improve HHS priorities and programs. 

Comments Requested: Paperwork Reduction for the FCC – December 24. As part of its Measuring Broadband America Program, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks input from the public on the types of information that should be collected to determine the speed and performance of broadband connections. Specifically, the FCC would like to receive comments on how they might “further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.” Currently, there are software-based tools and online tools that can test consumers’ broadband connections. However, these tools track speeds experienced by consumers, rather than speeds delivered directly to a consumer by an internet service provider. The Measuring Broadband America Program will focus on the broadband performance delivered.