Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

July 1, 2021

HRSA Payment Program for Buprenorphine-Trained Clinicians.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched an effort to improve access to substance use disorder treatment by paying for clinicians who are cleared to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder.  Clinicians working in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) who have the waiver necessary to prescribe buprenorphine may be eligible to receive this payment through their employer.  Beginning June 30, 2021, FQHCs and RHCs may apply through HRSA’s Electronic Handbook (EHB), the agency’s online system for managing grants.  HRSA will pay $3,000 for each eligible provider submitted on the application.  Existing HRSA grantees should already have an EHB account; for those organizations that are not a grantee, instructions for creating a new EHB account can be found under “How to Apply” in the headline link above.  There is no deadline to apply, but available funds are limited and will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis.  The SUPPORT Act made $6 million available to FQHCs and $2 million available to RHCs under this program.  HRSA will accept applications and process payments until all available funds are exhausted. For any additional questions about this program, please contact Data2000WaiverPayments@hrsa.gov.

HHS Encourages Enrollment in Marketplace Health Insurance CoverageAs part of the Rural Week of Action, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is encouraging qualified individuals and families to enroll in or change Health Insurance Marketplace plans through August 15, 2021 with the 2021 Special Enrollment Period for COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.  More people may qualify for Marketplace savings that will lower the cost of premiums.  It is estimated that 65 percent of uninsured rural adults could have access to a health plan with $0 premium on healthcare.gov.  Enter your zip code to find local help or call the Marketplace Call Center.

HHS Awards Grants for Health Literacy.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) awarded funds to local governments in 73 communities as part of an effort to improve the way information is received and understood by racial and ethnic minorities, including those in rural communities.  The two-year projects will also focus on other populations considered vulnerable for misperceptions about COVID-19 and other information about public health.

NIH Studies Mobile Clinics for Integrated HIV, SUD Treatment.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a new clinical trial to determine whether using mobile clinics to treat both HIV and substance use disorder (SUD) at the same time can improve outcomes among individuals who inject drugs. 

USDA Seeks Public Input on Equity, Racial Justice in Rural Communities – July 15.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting comments – from short feedback on a specific USDA program up to 20 pages of broader research – to inform its Racial Equity Commission that will be launched later this year.