Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

Date: January 6, 2022

New Funding Available for RMOMS program – Applications Due April 5. This week, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) posted a funding opportunity for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program (RMOMS). The RMOMS initiative began three years ago to address persistent disparities and lack of obstetric services in rural areas. For this round, applicants can request up to $1 million per year for a four-year program, subject to available funding. Each grantee will build networks for continuum of care, test models to address unmet needs for their target population, and develop sustainable financing. Learn more about the ongoing work (PDF) of current grantees in the first annual report, and write to RMOMS@hrsa.gov with questions. 

Spread the Word About Vaccine Boosters. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released new resources – posters, flyers, videos, and talking points – to help promote the extra protection from COVID-19 boosters. All vaccinated adults aged 18+ are eligible for a booster. Search by zip code to find nearby locations providing adult and pediatric vaccines and boosters for COVID-19 and the flu at vaccines.gov.

Expanded Eligibility Allows More Rural Clinicians to Qualify for Loan RepaymentJoin us for a webinar on Thursday, January 13, at 2:00pm ET to hear how qualified health care clinicians could receive student loan repayment in return for serving at NHSC-approved sites – even if their health professional shortage area (HPSA) score has not been competitive for awards in the past. Recent funding increases make it much easier for rural clinicians to qualify for loan repayment under its programs. Find out which program is right for you, and apply to one of the three loan repayment programs. Last application cycle, every eligible NHSC applicant received an award regardless of HPSA score. The deadline to apply through NHSC is Thursday, February 3 at 7:30pm ET., so act quickly!

Simpler Dialing Code for Suicide Hotline. Recently, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced a new dialing code, 988, for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. While the original 10-digit number is still in use in most areas, 988 will be available to everyone across the U.S. beginning July 16, 2022. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. but some groups, including people who live in rural areas, have substantially higher rates

CMS Releases Guidance on Enforcement of Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers. Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a memo to State Survey Agency Directors providing provider-specific guidance and survey procedures for assessing and maintaining compliance with the November 5 rule requiring COVID-19 vaccination for health care workers. This guidance applies to most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers except for those in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Surveyors in these states should not undertake any efforts to implement or enforce this interim final rule.

NIH Draft Report on Priorities for Rural Telehealth – Comment by February 4. The Office of Disease Prevention at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) invites public comments on the draft report from the recent Pathways to  Prevention Workshop: Improving Rural Health Through Telehealth-Guided Provider-to-Provider Communication. The report summarizes the workshop discussions and identifies future research priorities. 

Share Your Experiences on Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response. The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub)  wants to hear about how rural communities, health care facilities, public health departments, first responders, tribes, rural serving organizations, and others have had to adapt, collaborate, and innovate in the face of disasters and public health emergencies. RHIhub is looking for examples of lessons learned, successes, challenges, or other helpful information to highlight related to emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for a variety of disasters. Examples will be shared in an emergency preparedness toolkit on the RHIhub website.

Ongoing: HRSA Payment Program for RHC Buprenorphine-Trained Providers. In June 2021, HRSA launched an effort to improve access to substance use disorder treatment by paying for providers who are waivered to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) still have the opportunity to apply for a $3,000 payment on behalf of each provider who trained to obtain the waiver necessary to prescribe buprenorphine after January 1, 2019. Approximately $1.5 million in program funding remains available for RHCs and will be paid on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Send questions to DATA2000WaiverPayments@hrsa.gov. There is ongoing availability of a free online course for waiver eligibility training from the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine and the Providers Clinical Support System.