Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

October 18, 2018

Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Community Health and Prosperity. Rural stakeholders have until Monday, November 5th to offer comment on the Surgeon General’s efforts focusing on how local investments have the potential to improve the health and prosperity of communities.  This opportunity for public comment provides a way to ensure that the broader national effort includes a specific focus on rural issues.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working with the Surgeon General’s Office on this effort and the goal is to use the information from the public to help guide this effort.  Rural stakeholders are encouraged to submit written views, recommendations, and data about how investing in communities can improve health and prosperity and unique characteristics of rural communities that need to be taken into account in the larger effort by the Surgeon General.

What’s New

New Report: Life in Rural America.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) published a report this week with findings from a survey of rural adults “to understand the current views and experiences of rural Americans on economic and health issues.”  Respondents were optimistic overall, citing positive job prospects and connection with their communities.  Of the challenges in rural areas, more than 25 percent of those surveyed cited drug abuse as the biggest problem facing their local community.  The second largest concern, at 21 percent, was economic, including poverty and the availability of jobs.  The report challenges the idea that all rural Americans are the same and examines major differences between young and old, those with and without a college degree, and between White residents and minorities.  Earlier this year, RWJF issued its annual County Health Rankings. That report included an explicit call to action for community leaders to examine local data and learn more about the social and economic factors in each community that impact health outcomes.

Funding Opportunities

Grants for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – Letter of Intent due November 6. The broad-ranging PCORI project aims to help patients make better-informed decisions based on the best possible information.  At the core of its mission is to get patients and other stakeholders – not just researchers – involved in the research process, and then make that research available to the public.  Many PCORI projects look at the challenges in rural areas, and each of the four priorities for this funding are critical to rural as well:  1) addressing disparities, 2) assessment of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options, 3) communication and dissemination research, and 4) improving healthcare systems.  Applications are due on February 12, and a Letter of Intent is due November 6.

Policy Updates

Visit the FORHP Policy page to see all recent updates and send questions to ruralpolicy@hrsa.gov

There are no policy updates this week.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Diversity in Clinical Research – Monday, October 22 at 2:00 pm ET.  The Office of Minority Health at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will host this one-hour webinar to discuss strategies for increasing Hispanic enrollment in clinical trials.  The FDA does not conduct clinical trials, but relies on data discovered in them to determine whether medical products are safe and effective.  Participation from certain populations, however, is low.  As of the 2010 Census nearly ten percent of the population in rural and small-towns is Hispanic, making them the largest minority group in these areas.

Learn About the Rural Health Research Gateway – Tuesday, October 23 at 3:30 pm ET.  Hear from Dr. Shawnda Schroeder, principal investigator of the Rural Health Research Gateway, as she gives a brief overview of the Gateway and how the website and its resources can benefit rural community programs and State Offices of Rural Health. In this 30-minute presentation, Schroeder will discuss how to use the resources available, and why rural health research is important for rural community and healthcare facility planning.

Promoting Substance Use Recovery for Pregnant Women – Wednesday, October 24 at 1:00 pm.  The National Academy for State Health Policy will hold this 75-minute webinar to highlight a state that is coordinating across agencies and systems to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting women affected by substance use disorder (SUD). Speakers from Colorado will describe the coverage, financing, and care delivery strategies that their state agencies and safety net providers leverage to facilitate recovery among pregnant and parenting women with SUD, including opportunities for cross-system collaboration.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome are higher in rural areas, though there are safe and effective treatments for SUD during pregnancy.

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Among Youth – Wednesday, October 24 at 1:30 pm ET.  Evidence studied by the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) shows that prevention programs for youth ages 12 to 24 can reduce intimate partner violence and promote healthier relationships between peers and partners.  During this 90-minute webinar, attendees will hear from federal and community-level experts about the CPSTF’s recommendations and how they can be implemented.  Research has shown that the prevalence for intimate partner violence in rural areas is similar to other places, but more than 60% of rural women reported four or more events of physical violence compared to 40% of urban women.

Safe Stations Academy: Innovative Approach to Opioid Crisis – Thursday, October 25.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will host a day-long event in Nashua, New Hampshire to highlight this rural community’s collaborative response to the opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, New Hampshire has the second-highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country.  Care providers, emergency services personnel, and policymakers will explain the Safe Stations approach, implemented by Harbor Homes, a HRSA grantee.

The Rural Context for Adverse Childhood Experiences – Monday, October 29 at 3:00 pm ET.  Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are forms of chronic stress or trauma, (e.g., abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction) experienced throughout childhood and adolescence that have profound short- and long-term consequences on health and well-being. Researchers have found a direct link to poor health outcomes in adults, including increased risks for diabetes, cancer, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. At its April 2018 meeting, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services explored the rural landscape for ACEs and ways to address and mitigate their impact.  Members of the Committee will be joined by local and national experts to discuss their findings and recommendations in this hour-long webinar presentation.

Register for NOSORH Rural Health Data Institute – October 31 thru February 20.  The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) will hold 90-minute webinars every other Wednesday.  The sessions will go in depth on finding, accessing and using rural health data.  Registration is required and closes on October 19.

Register for the ONC Annual Meeting – November 29-30.    The Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is the federal entity in charge of advancing implementation and use of health information and technology, and overcoming health IT challenges in rural communities.  At its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, attendees will hear from key officials from the White House and the administration, and learn about the successes and challenges from the federal level.  Registration ends on October 27. 

AgriSafe:  Wildfire Associated Health Risks – Friday, November 2 at 1:00 pm ET.  The AgriSafe Network hosts this one-hour session to explore various health concerns related to wildfires in rural areas, including respiratory health, mental health, heat illness, deterioration of water quality, and injuries due to relocating livestock.

BHW Workforce Forum on Opioids – November 7.  HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) is holding a series of regional forums across the country to share strategies for connecting skilled health care professionals to communities facing the opioid crisis.  The objective for the November 7 meeting in Atlanta, GA is to build collaboration with federal, state, local, and tribal partners in the mostly rural states of Region IV: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Resource of the Week

Bringing Doctors to Rural Areas Through the Conrad 30 Waiver Program.  Administered through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Conrad 30 Waiver program addresses the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas, many of them rural.  Eligible physicians who have trained in the U.S. under a J-1 visa waiver may be granted permission through Conrad 30 to reside in the U.S. while they work at a health care facility designated by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or Medically Underserved Population (MUP).  Beyond the federal qualifications, each state has its own set of requirements for this program.   You can find more information by contacting the State Primary Care Office in your state.

Approaching Deadlines

Register for NOSORH Rural Health Data Institute – October 19

Small Rural Hospital Transition Project – October 24

Comments Requested: Reducing Regulatory Burden for Care Coordination – October 26

Register for the ONC Annual Meeting – October 27

Responding to Opioid Use Disorder in Tribal Communities – Letter of Intent, October 29

Johns Hopkins American Indian Scholars Program – November 1

Request for Comment: Surgeon General’s Call to Action – November 5

Grants for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – Letter of Intent November 6

SeniorCorps Retired and Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) – November 7

Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship – November 7

CDC Capacity Building for HIV Prevention – November 12

FTA Access and Mobility Partnership Grants – November 13

Comments Requested: Reducing Regulations for Healthcare Providers – November 19

MCHB Challenge: Addressing Opioid Use in Pregnant Women – November 19

USDA Delta Health Care Services Grant Program – November 26

Nurse Faculty Loan Program – November 28

Responding to Opioid Use Disorder in Tribal Communities – November 29

Rural Health Network Development Planning Program – November 30

Farm to School Grant Program – December 4

Health Disparities Research with Tribal Epidemiology Centers – December 4

Research to Address Opioid Crisis (Clinical Trial Required) – December 11

Research to Address Opioid Crisis (Clinical Trial Not Allowed) – December 11

Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – Ongoing through 2021

Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans – Ongoing

Funding for Rural Water and Waste Disposal Projects –  Ongoing

Drinking Water and Waste Disposal for Rural and Native Alaskan Villages – Ongoing

HIT Strategies for Patient-Reported Outcome Measures – Ongoing

HIT to Improve Health Care Quality and Outcomes – Ongoing

Community Facilities Program –  Ongoing

Summer Food Service Program – Ongoing