Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

June 11, 2021

Rural Health Clinics Receive Support for COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation. Yesterday, the Health Resources and Services Administration provided more than $424 million to increase COVID-19 testing and mitigation in rural areas. Each immediately eligible Rural Health Clinic (RHC) received $100,000 in funding. This new effort builds on the May 2020 RHC COVID-19 Testing Program, helping more than 4200 RHCs slow the virus in ways tailored to their communities. Read more about support for Rural Health Clinics during the public health emergency under COVID-19 Resources.

An Overview of the National Cancer Institute’s Rural Cancer Control Initiatives – Tuesday, June 15 at 1:00 pm ET.  This webinar hosted by the Rural Health Information Hub will provide an overview of the National Cancer Institute’s research emphasis on rural cancer control. Presenters will highlight agendas and resources related to geographical disparities affecting rural and tribal populations, persistent poverty, and telehealth. Opportunities for collaboration with other rural health partners, including health centers, will also be discussed.

FORHP Enhances Vaccine Activities in Delta Region.  On June 8th, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy announced $550,000 in supplemental funding to Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program recipients to enhance COVID-19 vaccine activities such as outreach, education and promotion, and operations to provide accurate evidence-based vaccination information and increase vaccination rates across the Delta region.  This supplemental funding supports the Administration’s priorities in addressing the COVID-19 crisis as noted in the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness and addresses the disproportionate disparities of individuals experiencing a burden of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

CMS Announces Payment for In-Home Vaccinations.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an additional payment amount for administering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicare beneficiaries who have difficulty leaving their homes or are otherwise hard-to-reach.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates approximately 1.6 million adults aged 65 or older who may have trouble accessing vaccinations because they have difficulty leaving home.  

USDA on Food Retail in Rural Areas.  The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report that examines food retailers – grocery stores, convenience stores, dollar stores, and other types – known to be a social determinant of health.  Researchers found that, in 2015, there were 40 rural counties without grocery stores, and 23 rural counties without any food retailers.  The ERS also updated their county-level data sets that track socioeconomic indicators including poverty rates, population change, and unemployment rates. 

New: Expanded Resources for Rural Health Clinics.  Three new programs help more than 4,200 Rural Health Clinics in 45 states meet the needs of their communities.

New: HHS/DoD National Emergency Tele-Critical Care Network.  A joint program of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is available at no cost to hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients and struggling with access to enough critical care physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other specialized clinical experts. Teams of critical care clinicians are available to deliver virtual care through lightweight telemedicine platforms, such as an app on a mobile device. Hear from participating clinicians and email to learn more and sign up.