Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

September 2, 2021

HHS: What Works and What Doesn’t in COVID-19 Vaccine Outreach. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) provides an overview of lessons learned from vaccine programs and gives several examples of federal and state programs that could serve as models for new strategies. 

CDC on Mental Health/Substance Abuse Among Adults with Disabilities During the Pandemic. Using Internet surveys, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that adults with disabilities experienced greater incidents of anxiety or depression, new or increased substance use, and suicidal ideation than did adults without disabilities.  The report includes data for rural locations and recommends that clinicians consider screening all patients for issues related to the pandemic.

Expanded Number of Health Care Navigators. Through $80 million in grant awards for the 2022 plan year, 60 Navigator awardee organizations will be able to train and certify more than 1,500 Navigators to help uninsured consumers find coverage in 30 states with a Federally-Facilitated Marketplace. Navigators can assist with enrollment applications and help consumers receive financial assistance through HealthCare.gov. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reported that Medicaid expansion played a key role in expanding health insurance coverage; Medicaid coverage rates increased from 12.2 percent of the rural population in 2010 to 17.1 percent in 2019. With the additional funding for Navigator assistance, organizations can help more uninsured individuals and families get coverage. 

Interactive Map Shows Results of 2020 Census. The map allows users to zoom in and find population data for each county in the country. State profiles give more detail on demographic changes between 2010 and 2020. Other infographics and visualizations show information topics such as population change by county, food assistance eligibility, and more detailed breakdown of race and ethnicity. Population counts from the U.S. Census are used to allocate federal funding, provide data for policymaking, plan economic development, and provide data for research, among countless other needs for quality of life.

Provider Relief Fund Information Moves to HRSA Website. Information on the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program, which gives financial support to providers who have seen lost revenues and increased expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, previously hosted on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website is now available on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)website. Users who visit hhs.gov/providerrelief (previous URL) will be automatically re-directed to the new site. All archived content will remain available to the public. For updates about the PRF and other HRSA programs, please subscribe to the HRSA eNews.

HRSA Reorganization. This week, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a reorganization of its bureaus and offices to accommodate changing needs in the agency’s mission to improve health care for people who are geographically isolated and/or medically underserved. Among the changes, the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth has moved from its longtime home in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to become an operational focal point for telehealth across all of HRSA’s programs.