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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

April 4, 2014

Hot Off the Presses 

  1. The following notice of extension has been posted by the Veteran’s Administration, and may be of interest to family physicians in highly rural areas for their U.S. veteran patients. The Veteran’s Administration announced today that it is extending the application deadline to midnight eastern standard time on May 27, 2014, to allow applicants additional time to apply for funds available under the Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas program. For more information, please review the posted Notice of Funds Availability at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-03-26/pdf/2014-06630.pdf.

Rural Research Highlights

  1. 2012 Rural Medicare Advantage Quality Ratings and Bonus Payments
    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 established bonus payments to reward Medicare Advantage (MA) plans with high quality ratings (4 stars or higher) beginning in 2012. In addition, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) created a demonstration project that expanded the quality-based bonus payments to plans with lower quality ratings (3 stars or higher) from 2012 through 2014. This brief analyzes differences in quality and payment and suggests reasons why quality ratings vary by geography. Overall, the quality rating of MA plans in rural areas is lower than in urban areas, a result of the availability of, and enrollment in, different types of MA plans. This suggests that the focus on quality improvement for MA plans should be on the type of plan, not its location.
  2. Discharge to Swing Bed or Skilled Nursing Facility: Who Goes Where?
    This study examined health conditions of patients discharged from rural Prospective Payment System (PPS) hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to swing beds and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Patients discharged to facility-based, post-acute care from CAHs are sent to SNFs and swing beds almost equally. Those discharged from rural PPS hospitals are predominantly sent to SNFs. More recent rural research can be found on http://www.ruralhealthresearch.org/.

Other Useful Information and Resources 

  1. The Atlas of Rural and Small Town America captures 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: 

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  2. 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. Applications are due by July 3rd, 2014. 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.
  3. 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 Guidance for 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).