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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

July 14, 2014

Hot Off the Presses

  1. A set of three new resources is now available from the Rural Assistance Center to help you locate and use statistics and data related to rural health:
  • Finding Statistics and Data Related to Rural Health
    This RAC topic guide addresses how to locate and fairly and accurately use statistics and data in order to understand and communicate rural health needs.
  • Data Sources & Tools Relevant to Rural Health
    A collection of data sources focused on healthcare services, health status, demographics, and social determinants of health. For each source, it identifies the topics covered, ease of use, geographic level of data, and update frequency.
  • Selecting Rural Data in American Factfinder
    This step-by-step Slideshare presentation shows 2 methods for selecting rural data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Factfinder tool, which provides access to a wide range of statistics describing the U.S. population. Learn how to use the Geographic Comparison Tables and direct selection of locations to easily identify data for use in rural health grant applications, community health needs assessments, and more.
  1. The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) was recognized as the 2014 Friend of NCHN, during the 6th Annual National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN) Awards Luncheon in St. Louis, Missouri last month. The Friend of NCHN Award is given to recognize a program, institution, agency, or individual that has advocated for or provided extraordinary support to the Association. Since its creation in 1987, ORHP has played a significant role in ensuring that rural communities have access to quality health care. “One of the many ways in which ORHP supports rural health is by providing grants to fund the planning, development, and implementation of health networks,” said Rebecca Davis, Ph.D., Executive Director of NCHN. “No other organization has been as vital to the success of the health network model as HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy.”  In 1997, ORHP implemented the Rural Health Network Development Grant Program and since that time, additional specialized network development programs have been developed, including HIT, Workforce, HIT Workforce, Delta, and Network Development Planning. 

Rural Research Highlights

  1. Home Health Care Agency Availability in Rural Counties

A range of medical services can be provided in the home setting, allowing patients to be discharged from hospital or inpatient rehabilitation settings more quickly. Medicare reimburses for six types of home health care:  skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, medical social work, and home health aide services. In November 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services modified Medicare reimbursement for home health care, seeking to control costs by reducing inflation-associated adjustments in charges.  In the past, changes in reimbursement may have affected rural home health care agencies more adversely than those in urban areas.  The purpose of the current report is to describe the status of home health care service delivery in the rural U.S. in 2008, before passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related efforts.

The South Carolina Rural Health Research Center used Medicare Compare Home Health Agency files for 2008 to examine two aspects of home health care (HHC) across the United States:  HHC agency availability and quality of services provided. Home health agencies are required to report the geographic areas they serve by ZIP Code; they are also required to report quality results across a range of 12 outcomes. This report is based on agency reports; the researchers did not independently verify that services were actually provided within all listed areas.


More recent rural research can be found on

Webinars, Events, and Other Technical Assistance

  1. The Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment will be meeting August 25-26. CMS permits hospitals to participate by providing information on appropriate levels of supervision. Registration to attend this meeting in person will open June 30 and close August 1 although presentations and comments must be emailed to by July 25. The Panel will make recommendations to CMS about the appropriate supervision level (General, Extended Duration, or Direct) for outpatient therapeutic procedures presented for consideration. At this meeting the panel will deliberate chemotherapy and complex drug delivery among other topics. For more information on the HOP Panel Summer Meeting, see the Federal Register Notice and the HOP Panel website.

 Funding Opportunity Announcements

5.      The Veterans Health Administration recently posted a solicitation for vendors to provide contracted primary/ambulatory care for veterans in the geographic region known as VISN 18, the “Southwest Health Care Network” (“Veterans Integrated Service Network”). Rural providers in the Southwest may be interested in viewing the contract opportunity as well as the geographic region comprising several market or service areas in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The solicitation provides greater detail on the ability to apply for a specific market area, services required, and closing date (July 15th, 2014). You can find it at or Solicitation # VA79114R0072.

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