Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

September 20, 2018

What’s New

HRSA Awards Rural Communities to Combat the Opioid Crisis. This includes $25.5 million to over 120 rural organizations to increase access to substance abuse prevention and treatment services serving rural populations across the country. Specifically, $19 million was awarded to 95 organizations under FORHP’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning and nearly $6.5 million to 26 rural organizations to expand the reach of the Rural Health Opioid Program. In addition, nearly $400 million is going to support 1,232 health centers across the country. To learn about HRSA-supported resources, please visit HRSA’s Opioid Crisis page.

NAS Workshop:  Achieving Rural Health Equity and Well-Being.  The National Academies of Science (NAS) convened a workshop in 2017 “to explore the impacts of economic, demographic, and social issues in rural communities and to learn about asset-based approaches to addressing the associated challenges.”  The NAS has just released a report of the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

State of Obesity 2018 Report.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health have released the 15th annual State of Obesity report, announcing an “urgent need to increase evidence-based obesity prevention programs.” Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the report finds that adult obesity rates are at or above 35 percent in seven mostly-rural states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.  Also this week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a final recommendation on behavioral weight loss interventions.

Funding Opportunities

Small Rural Hospital Transition Project – October 24.  Nine rural hospitals will be selected to receive on-site technical assistance for the transition to value-based care and Alternative Payment Models.  Applicants may select either a financial operational assessment or quality improvement project.  Preview questions in advance of the application period opening September 25th and get helpful hints for submitting a successful application.

FTA Access and Mobility Partnership Grants – November 13.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will provide total funding of $6.3 million “to improve access to public transportation by building partnerships among health, transportation and other service providers.”  Eligible applicants are state and local governments, private or non-profit organizations, and providers of public transportation that can create innovative projects that can increase mobility for disadvantaged populations.  Transportation is a vital determinant of health in rural communities, impacting a person’s ability to access appropriate health care, purchase nutritious food, and more.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: Reducing Regulations for Healthcare Providers – November 19.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeks comments on a proposed rule to reform Medicare regulations, conditions of participation (CoPs), and conditions for coverage (CfCs) for health care providers and suppliers.  The proposals seek to simplify and streamline processes, reduce the frequency of activities, and remove obsolete, duplicative, or unnecessary requirements for Critical Access Hospitals, Community Mental Health Clinics, Rural Health Clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers among others.  Comments can be submitted at www.regulations.gov.

NQF Final Report:  Rural-Relevant Measures for Healthcare Quality.  For the first time, the National Quality Forum (NQF) has released a set of quality measures for rural hospitals and ambulatory care facilities to improve quality of care and access in rural areas.  The measures were developed by a subgroup of the Measures Application Partnership (MAP), which formed a Rural Health Workgroup to provide recommendations from a rural perspective.

2018 Rural Hospital and Clinic Financial Summit Report. With the support of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the National Rural Health Resource Center developed this report following a Summit of key rural hospital and clinic stakeholders to identify the most important financial indicators and strategies to transition to value-based payment. This report is designed to help rural hospital and clinic leaders meet this transition with financial success.

Call for National Advisory Committee NominationsHRSA seeks nominations for new members to serve on its Health Workforce National Advisory Committees. The five committees advise the HHS Secretary and Congress on health workforce policies and programs. HRSA accepts nominations on a continuous basis and consider them as vacancies occur on each committee. You may nominate yourself or others. Professional associations and organizations may also nominate qualified candidates.  As with all of HRSA’s Federal Advisory Committees, diverse geographic representation can strengthen the work and recommendations of each group.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

AgriSafe Farm Safety Week Webinars – September 16-22.  The AgriSafe Network is hosting a free webinar each weekday of National Farm Safety & Health Week.  The agriculture industry in rural areas of every state is recognized as one of the most hazardous, with more than two million full-time workers employed in the production of crops, livestock and poultry in 2017.  The webinar series has something for everyone – ag producers, health care professionals, educators, trainers, and safety professionals.

Opioids Misuse: Increasing Access to Rural Transportation – Thursday, September 20 at 9:00 am ET.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Transit Administration will host this four-hour workshop addressing the lack of transportation as a barrier to substance abuse treatment in rural communities.   Participants can attend in person at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, or watch online via Livestream. (Click “Get Notified” to have the web address sent to you via email or calendar invite.)

HRSA’s Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence – Friday, September 21 at 3:00 pm ET.  This hour-long webinar will provide an overview of the HRSA Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and share examples of activities that focus on training and tools for health care settings.  The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services has reported that 22.9 percent of women in small rural areas reported being victims of IPV.

Diabetes Prevention Program Webinar Series – Tuesday, September 25 at 12:00 pm ET.  The first in this three-part series hosted by the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) will feature clinicians and administrators with experience implementing the National Diabetes Prevention Program.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes is about 17 percent more prevalent in rural areas.

Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Call – Wednesday, September 26 at 2:00 pm ET. This hour-long call with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will explain how health care providers can help patients prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes and understand their treatment options. CMS will share more information about how to refer patients to the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, an evidence-based lifestyle change curriculum shown to prevent type 2 diabetes among beneficiaries.  A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

3RNet Recruiting for Retention Academy – October 2 through December 11.  The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) will hold a six-part webinar series with practical, action-oriented training for recruiting health professionals to rural and underserved areas.  Every other Tuesday beginning October 2nd, 3RNET will hold live, online sessions lasting 75-90 minutes each and featuring national experts on rural/underserved recruiting and retention.

Approaching Deadlines

SAMHSA Rural Opioids Technical Assistance Grants – September 20

MCHB Challenge: Preventing Childhood Obesity – September 24

CMS Proposes Medicare Outpatient Payment and Policy Changes – September 24

AHRQ Health Services Research Projects – October 5

AHRQ Small Research Grant Program – October 16

Comments Requested: New Plans for Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs – October 16

Comments Requested:  Electronic Health Record Reporting – October 17

Small Rural Hospital Transition Project – October 24

Comments Requested: Reducing Regulatory Burden for Care Coordination – October 26

Johns Hopkins American Indian Scholars Program – November 1

Request for Comment: Surgeon General’s Call to Action – November 5

Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship – November 7

FTA Access and Mobility Partnership Grants – November 13

Comments Requested: Reducing Regulations for Healthcare Providers – November 19

MCHB Challenge: Addressing Opioid Use in Pregnant Women – November 19

USDA Delta Health Care Services Grant Program – November 26

Rural Health Network Development Planning Program – November 30

Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021

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