Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Update

April 15, 2020

What’s New

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  On April 10, HHS began delivery of the initial $30 billion in relief funding to providers in support of the national response to COVID-19 as part of the distribution of the $100 billion provider relief fund provided for in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Administration is working rapidly on targeted distributions of the remaining $70 billion that will focus on providers in areas particularly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, rural providers, providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population, and providers requesting reimbursement for the treatment of uninsured Americans. For more information, visit hhs.gov/provider-relief.

Notice of Intent: New Funding Opportunity Announcement to Support Novel, High-Impact Studies Evaluating Health System and Healthcare Professional Responsiveness to COVID-19 – June 2020. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) intends to publish a new funding opportunity focused on evaluating topics such as innovations and challenges encountered in the rapid expansion of telemedicine in response to COVID-19, effects on quality, safety, and value of health system response to COVID-19, and the role of primary care practices and professionals during the COVID-19 epidemic. AHRQ expects to invest up to $5 million in FY2020 funds with particular interest in understanding how digital health innovations contributed to health system and healthcare professional innovation and challenges and solutions to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations including older adults, people living with multiple chronic conditions, rural communities, and uninsured and under-insured populations.

HHS Guide for Implementing Virtual Case Management During COVID-19.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued a short set of key considerations for delivering services online or over the phone.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders, updated regularly.

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance. A CDC site for rural-specific information has a recording of the April 8 Coronavirus update for rural stakeholders and communities.  CDC also does regular clinical calls for public health emergencies, called Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA).

USDA COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide.  On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched an online list of federal resources for rural communities.

RAND: Responding to Critical Care Surge Capacity.  The RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development) included 61 rural hospitals in its survey of hospitals across the country about their capacity to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The report presents a range of strategies for creating capacity, including an online Critical Care Surge Response Tool that allows decision-makers at all levels — hospitals, health care systems, states, regions — to estimate current critical care capacity and rapidly explore strategies for increasing it.

NCSL on COVID-19: Health Care in Rural America.  The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) focuses on rural areas in its podcast about state-level response to the pandemic.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data and maps on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning January 21.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has created a guide to help you learn about activities underway to address COVID-19.