Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

September 27, 2018

What’s New

Award to Support Rural Opioid Response Initiative.  HRSA announced that JBS International has been awarded a cooperative agreement to assist new grantees of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) announced last week.  The agreement with JBS, administered through HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, will provide expertise to RCORP communities as they establish an infrastructure for sustainable treatment resources, build partnerships across social service and health sectors, and implement new models of care for treating opioid use disorder.

2017 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.  This new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)  tracks more than 300 healthcare measures, organized around the access to care, quality of care, disparities of care, and six priority areas, including patient safety, person-centered care, care coordination, effective treatment, healthy living, and care affordability.  Non-metropolitan areas saw improvements in some measures of effective care for cancer, care coordination and patient safety but disparities still persisted in care coordination, patient safety, infant mortality, person-centered care, and access to care.

A Portrait of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families. This report from the Administration for Children and Families describes the population of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) families, mostly living in rural areas.  There are approximately 451,000 AI/AN young children in the United States, and almost one-third live in households below the Federal Poverty Line.  The report uses the 2010-2014 American Community Survey to describe their access to and participation in early childhood services.

Funding Opportunities

SeniorCorps Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) – November 7.  The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) anticipates funding $13.7 million to support programs for volunteers aged 55+ in specific geographic areas of the country.  Senior Corps RSVP volunteers tutor children, renovate homes, teach English to immigrants, assist victims of natural disasters, provide independent living services, recruit and manage other volunteers, and serve in their communities in many other ways.  On average, rural populations are older than other parts of the country, and community engagement is one of the social determinants of health that can benefit older citizens.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a Letter of Intent by October 10.

Rural Health  Research

Practical Implications:  Opioid-Affected Births to Rural Residents.  In this policy brief from the HRSA/FORHP-funded University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, researchers examined rates of diagnosis of maternal opioid use disorder and infant neonatal abstinence syndrome for rural residents, based on the type of hospital where the birth occurred—rural hospital, urban non-teaching hospital, or urban teaching hospital. They also asked two physicians who care for both rural and urban patients at urban teaching hospitals, and specializing in maternal fetal medicine, and neonatology, respectively, to offer interpretations of these findings.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: FDA Guidance on Medication Assisted Treatment – October 9.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is seeking input from the public on draft guidance that aims to encourage the development of medication assisted treatment (MAT) drugs tailored to patient needs and give more options to individuals with OUD.  Prior FDA approval of new drugs for MAT was based on research showing their efficacy primarily in decreasing use of opioids. The new guidance encourages researchers to look at a broader set of outcomes, including a reduction in relapse overdoses and rates of disease transmissions.

Updated Survey and Certification Procedures for Hospitals with Swing Beds. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently updated the Appendices in the State Operations Manual (SOM) to reflect revisions to the regulations and guidelines for survey procedures for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that operate swing beds. Appendix A, Survey Protocol, Regulations and Interpretive Guidelines for Hospitals, and Appendix W, Survey Protocol, Regulations and Interpretive Guidelines for CAHs and Swing Beds in CAHs, reflect significant revisions to the Survey Protocol, and Appendix T has been deleted.  These revised policies are effective immediately.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

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.

Violence as a Public Health Issue – Wednesday, October 3 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) hosts this one-hour webinar on violence, the fourth in a series on Public Health.  Experts will discuss HRSA’s Strategy to Address Intimate Partner Violence, and ways to address violence at the community level from a public health perspective.  The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services recently examined the impact of intimate partner violence in rural America and found a ripple effect spreading to other issues such as Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Rural Insights on Adult and Youth Obesity – Thursday, October 11 at 2:00 pm ET.  In the second of an ongoing series of webinars, hear about the latest national trends in obesity among adults and youth in rural areas from the National Center for Health Statistics and hear how a FORHP-funded grantee is utilizing evidence-based programs for individual weight loss success.

HRSA Virtual Job Fair – Wednesday, October 17 at 6:45pm ET.  HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce will host a Behavioral Health Virtual Job Fair a free, interactive event held online to allow behavioral healthcare providers a chance to talk about their National Health Service Corps- or NURSE Corps-approved site, the community they serve and currently available positions in rural areas.

Safe Stations Academy: Innovative Approach to Opioid Crisis – Thursday, October 25.  The Health Resources and Services Administration will host this day-long event in Nashua, NH to highlight the community’s collaborative response to the opioid crisis.  Care providers, emergency services personnel, and policymakers will explain the Safe Stations approach, implemented by Harbor Homes, a HRSA grantee.

Approaching Deadlines

AHRQ Health Services Research Projects – October 5

Comments Requested: FDA Guidance on Medication Assisted Treatment – October 9

SeniorCorps Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) – Letter of Intent, October 10

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

SeniorCorps Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) – 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