Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

January 14, 2021

HRSA Evidence-Based Telehealth Grant Program – Applications due April 2.  The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making up to 14 new awards through the Evidence Based Telehealth Network Grant Program.  Each awardee will receive up to $350,000 annually.  The goals of this program are to demonstrate how health care systems can increase access to health care services utilizing Direct to Consumer Telehealth technologies and to conduct evaluations of those efforts to establish an evidence base for assessing the effectiveness of Direct to Consumer telehealth care for patients, providers, and payers.  Eligible applicants are domestic public or private, non-profit or for-profit entities with demonstrated experience utilizing telehealth technologies to serve rural underserved populations.

HHS Invests $8 Million to Address Gaps in Rural Telehealth.  On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) made awards for the Telehealth Broadband Pilot, a new program to assess the broadband capacity available to rural communities.

Nationwide Study Shows Rise in Opioid Affected Births.  A new study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services indicates that mothers with opioid-related diagnoses documented at delivery increased by 131 percent from 2010 to 2017.  Rural, White, and Medicaid populations continue to have the highest rates of maternal opioid-related diagnoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

HHS Renews Public Health Emergency. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for an additional 90 days, effective January 21, 2021. 

Comments Requested: FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program – January 19. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received $249.95 million in new appropriations to fund a second round of the Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.  This program started last spring with a $200M appropriation in the CARES Act.  The Commission seeks public comment by Tuesday, January 19 on planning Round 2, such as priorities and metrics for awardee selection and how to streamline selection administration.  Details of the solicitation and comment filing process are in the FCC’s official request for information

RAND: How COVID-19 Has Affected Family Caregiving.  The RAND Corporation is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that researches and analyzes public policy.  In this report, RAND makes the case for integrating family caregivers into the health care team and highlights several solutions for accomplishing this goal.