Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: October 21, 2021

New Funding Available for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – applications due January 13. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will be making approximately 50 awards of $1 million each to rural communities to enhance prevention, treatment, and recovery from substance use disorder. Eligible applicants are domestic public, private, and nonprofit entities that can deliver services in HRSA-designated rural areas, particularly for populations that have historically suffered from poorer health outcomes. The applicant organization must be part of an established network or consortium that includes at least three other separately-owned entities. HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will hold a 90 minute-long webinar for applicants on Wednesday, November 10th at 12:30 pm ET.  A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. For questions, write to ruralopioidresponse@hrsa.gov.

HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Program  – applications due December 20. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced two funding opportunities to expand the rural health workforce. The RRPD program aims to increase opportunities for physicians to train in rural residencies. A total of $10.5 million will develop 14 new rural residency programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Eligible applicants include rural hospitals, GME consortiums, and tribal organizations. For questions, email RuralResidency@hrsa.gov

A second opportunity, the HRSA Delta Region Rural Health Workforce Training Program – applications due January 25, expects to make three awards with total investment of $1.4 million for training critical administrative support in the rural counties and parishes of the Mississippi Delta Region. These occupations include medical coding and billing, claims processing, information management, and clinical documentation. Join the technical assistance webinar on November 10, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET. For questions, email jleger@hrsa.gov.

CDC: Binge Drinking Among Adults by Select Characteristics and State. The study analyzed data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to determine prevalence of binge drinking by select demographic characteristics (age, gender, race, income level) and by state. The finding that the prevalence of binge drinking was lower in the most rural counties than in the most urban counties is consistent with earlier reports. However, adults in the most rural counties who binge drank did so more frequently and at higher intensity than did adults in the most urban counties. The report points to recommendations from the Community Preventive Services Task Force to regulate alcohol sales as a population health approach. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends increased screening and counseling in primary care settings.

HIV Prevention Among Persons Who Inject Drugs: Rural and Urban Differences. In an open access article, researchers examined how stigma operates in rural and urban settings in relation to PrEP, a medicine for people who are at high risk for HIV from sex or injection drug use. The investigation showed willingness to use PrEP in both urban and rural settings. However, stigma against drug use, HIV, and sexualities were identified as barriers to PrEP uptake, particularly in the rural setting. 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence and health care are closely linked. According to a survey of contacts with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 53 percent of respondents reported [pdf] that an abusive partner has also controlled and/or restricted access to health care. In rural areas, the prevalence of emergency department (ED) visits has been found to be higher than in non-rural areas; rural patients admitted to the ED with an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)-related diagnosis were 10 percent more likely to report multiple injuries than urban patients. Studies have shown that a gap in providers’ knowledge around screening and direct patient care is common across rural and urban areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Office of Women’s Health and Bureau of Primary Healthcare are working with the Administration of Children and Families and the National Domestic Violence Hotline to address these issues. Learn about other HRSA intimate partner violence work or view last year’s webinar, Sheltering in Place, Intimate Partner Violence, and the Healthcare Response. For more information and resources specific to rural areas, visit the Rural Health Information Hub.

HHS Seeks Public Input on Four-Year Strategic Plan – Comment by November 7. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) released a draft of high-level strategic goals that each of 11 operating divisions will aim for over the next four years. As with previous plans, the overarching strategy is improving health and well-being in the U.S. and abroad; new goals emphasize equity for underserved populations and building trust in science and public health. Comments can be submitted by mail, email, or fax.