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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

March 27, 2014

Hot Off the Presses

  1. The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) is pleased to announce the release of the evidence-based  mental health toolkit.  As mental health and substance abuse continues to be a challenge in rural communities, this toolkit provides valuable and proven methods on ways to address the issue, make an impact in rural communities, be replicable and sustainable.This toolkit, located on the Rural Assistance Center, Community Health Gateway, is the 5th in a series of evidence-based toolkits released within the last two years.  The gateway, launched in 2012, was developed in response to the President’s Rural Healthcare Initiative, which identified evidence-based as a priority area for ORHP, and has allowed ORHP an opportunity to focus on demonstrating program outcomes.  The easy-to-use toolkits have been developed through extensive literature reviews, and in partnership with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and the Rural Assistance Center (RAC), and serve as a resource for rural communities looking to develop and implement a similar program.  Rural communities also avoid having to reinvent the wheel, as proven models have been studied and evaluated, and highlighted as replicable models on the Gateway.  ORHP encourages you to visit the Community Health Gateway http://www.raconline.org/communityhealth/ and explore the website to learn about the various tools and resources available.  For further questions, please contact: Nisha Patel, Director, Community-Based Division/ORHP, npatel@hrsa.gov.
  2. The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS ), which advises the Secretary of HHS on rural issues, has released two new policy briefs.  The health brief examines the challenges and opportunities presented by outreach, education, and enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s new Health Insurance Marketplaces for rural and frontier populations.  The Committee provided the Secretary with several recommendations to broaden outreach efforts in rural areas for upcoming enrollment periods. The  human services brief examines the intersection of rural poverty and Federal human services programs.  In 2013 the Committee visited Montrose County, Colorado and Gallatin County, Montana to learn about unique human service approaches toward addressing local need.  The Committee wrote about the promising practices for administering and delivering social services they identified during their visits.  For more information on the Committee see http://www.hrsa.gov/advisorycommittees/rural/.Rural Research Highlights
  3. Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records by Rural Health Clinics
    Little information is available on the rate of Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption by Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). This study was conducted to identify the rates of EHR adoption among a national random sample of RHCs and the extent to which RHCs that have adopted an EHR are likely to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use. To achieve Stage 1 meaningful use and qualify for meaningful use incentive payments, eligible health professionals must, at a minimum, meet CMS defined criteria for the required   14 core measures. Fifty-nine percent of RHCs report having an EHR, and independent RHCs were more likely than hospital-based RHCs to have an EHR. Common barriers to EHR adoption by RHCs include acquisition and maintenance costs, lack of capital, and potential productivity or income loss during transition.
  4. The Uninsured: An Analysis by Age, Income, and Geography
    Researchers at the RUPRI Center for Health Policy Analysis analyzed the rural and urban uninsured populations by age, showing that in both places, uninsured rates decline dramatically with age. They found that, within each age group, rural uninsured rates are somewhat lower than urban uninsured rates at income levels below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. However, since a greater proportion of the rural population falls into the age and income categories with high uninsured rates, rural people as a group stand to benefit slightly more from subsidized coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces (HIM) or Medicaid expansion (if enacted). More recent rural research can be found on http://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/.

    Webinars and Technical Assistance

  5. On March 28th the Texas/Oklahoma AIDS Education and Training Center will be hosting an online webinar series honoring, “National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.” Please visit Texas/Oklahoma AIDS Education & Training Center website for more information about the webinar.

    The Affordable Care Act

  6. Recordings of past Affordable Care Act Office Hours calls can be found here. These calls feature technical assistance for rural stakeholders working on outreach and enrollment, including outreach and enrollment strategies that are geared specifically toward rural Americans.
  7. The following resources from CMS may be helpful for rural consumer assistors and rural consumers:
    Resources on Qualifying Life Events:

    Health Insurance Utilization Resources:

    • Below is the Resource of the Week email that was sent in January and lists several consumer based resources on health insurance utilization. As you will see, these resources can also be found on SharePoint.
    • This link on healthcare.gov provides guidance on how to use new health insurance coverage: https://www.healthcare.gov/using-your-new-marketplace-coverage/

    Consumer Guide to Using Your New Marketplace Coverage

    SharePoint Link: Consumer Guide to Using Coverage

    Overview:  Many consumers will have new health insurance coverage that started on January 1, 2014.   Some of these consumers may be new to private health insurance coverage or may be reentering the health insurance market after a long gap in coverage and may have questions about how to use their new health insurance coverage.

    The Guide to Using Your New Marketplace Coverage provides guidance to consumers on how to ensure they are covered; how to obtain prescriptions, medical and emergency care; and how to appeal an insurance company decision. Additionally, the following links on HealthCare.gov should be helpful if there are questions about using new health insurance coverage:

    Other Useful Information and Resources

  8. The Atlas of Rural and Small Town Americacaptures data from the American Community Survey as it pertains to rural. Rural stakeholders may find it useful to identify statistics on individuals, jobs, and agriculture in their community or region.

    Funding Opportunities
    Open funding opportunities through HRSA programs include:

  9. The Department of Veterans Affairs Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas (HRTG) Program has opened up the grant application process again beginning March 26th.  This grant application period is from March 26, 2014 to midnight May 27, 2014.   This program’s purpose is to provide grants to eligible recipients to assist veterans in highly rural areas through innovative transportation services to travel to VA medical centers and to other VA and non-VA facilities to assist in providing transportation services in connection with the provision of VA medical care.

    • Eligible organizations that can apply are Veteran Service Organizations and State Veteran Service Agencies recognized by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
    • Non-eligible organizations such as a local transportation providers would have to partner with the above organizations and provide the services as sub recipient.
    • Services will have to be provided in those counties that are considered “highly rural” (see attached document of highly rural areas).
    • Highly Rural is defined by the population density of less than 7 persons per square mile in county.  Twenty-five states have counties with highly rural areas.
    • Grantees can receive $50,000 for each highly rural area that they provide transportation services.  One grant may be awarded to a grantee per fiscal year for each highly rural area in which the grantee provides transportation services. Transportation services may not be simultaneously provided by more than one grantee in any single highly rural area.
    • A grantee will not be required to provide matching funds as a condition of receiving such grant.
    • Additional information and how to apply can be found on grants.gov.  For a copy of the Application Package: Download directly from
    • http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html.  Click on search for grants and on the left side type in 64.035 in the box that says CFDA Number or click on this link http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=253011
  10. The National Health Service Corps Scholarship (NHSC) Program: HRSA is pleased to announce that applications for the NHSC Scholarship Program are now being accepted. Candidates interested in serving in the health professions in rural communities may be interested in applying.
    • Eligibility is open to all students who are U.S. citizens or nationals and are enrolled in a fully accredited training program for Physicians (MD or DO), Dentists, Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse-Midwives or Physician Assistants at a U.S. accredited school. The NHSC Scholarship Program is expected to be competitive. If there are more qualified applicants than available funding, the Program will continue to prioritize applicants who are from a disadvantaged background and applicants who demonstrate a commitment to continuing to serve high-need communities after their service to the NHSC is complete.
    • Apply by: Thursday, May 15, 2014
    • Application and Program Guidance
  11. The State Loan Repayment Program deadline is April 29th, 2014. Candidates interested in practicing medicine in qualifying rural areas may be interested in applying. For more information, visit:
    http://www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=251810
  12. The Healthy Start Initiative: As noted previously, up to 36 rural communities could be awarded up to $30 million to improve perinatal care outcomes through this opportunity.
  13. The Black Lung/Coal Miner Clinics Program
    Apply by: EXTENDED Friday, March 28, 2014

    http://www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=250805

  14. The Black Lung Centers of Excellence
    Apply by: EXTENDED Friday, March 28, 2014
    http://www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=250806
  15. The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program deadline is March 20th, 2014. Candidates interested in practicing medical, dental, behavioral, or mental health in a Health Profession Shortage Area (many of which are in rural areas) may be interested in applying. For more information, visit the 2014 National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program Application.
  16.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has issued two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) aimed at increasing the use of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) in primary care practices. The funding opportunity for up to eight regional cooperatives to help primary care practices build capacity for the implementation of patient-centered outcomes research in clinical care can be found here.
  17. The 2014 NURSE Corps Scholarship Program application cycle is now open.  Candidates interested in serving as nurses in rural or frontier communities may be interested in this scholarship. All completed applications must be submitted by May 22, 2014, at 7:30 pm, ET to be considered for an award.  Please refer to the Application and Program Guidancefor all of the program requirements.
    • Scholarship support includes tuition, required fees, other reasonable educational costs, and a monthly living stipend (all support is taxable) for up to four years. For each year of financial support, a NURSE Corps scholarship recipient serves one year at a NURSE Corps -approved facility in one of many high-need urban, rural, or frontier communities. The Program requires a minimum 2-year full-time service commitment (or part-time equivalent).