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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 3, 2018

Funding Opportunities

Wellness and Resilience for AI/AN Children – June 4.  Education agencies serving children in federally-recognized American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes, tribal organizations, and consortia of tribes or tribal organizations are eligible to apply for 2018 funding for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (Project AWARE).  This five-year program is meant to increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, provide training for school personnel and other adults to detect and respond to mental health issues, and to connect school-aged children and their families to mental health services.

State Initiative for Child Abuse and Neglect – June 18.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make five awards of up to $311,000 to state governments for multisector partnerships to reduce child abuse and neglect and to develop evidence-based approaches that can be replicated.  At its meeting in April, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services examined Adverse Childhood Experiences which, research has shown, can lead to poor health and social outcomes – chronic disease, substance abuse, unemployment and poverty.

Preventing Rural Teen Pregnancy – June 29.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Adolescent Health announced two funding opportunities to address teen pregnancy.  Teen birth rates have declined across the country but remain higher in rural counties than in urban or suburban areas, regardless of race or ethnicity.  One grant (AH-TP1-18-001) will provide up to $500,000 annually for two years to scale up programs support the protective factors shown to prevent risky behaviors, including teen pregnancy.  The other grant (AH-TP2-18-001) will provide up to $375,000 annually for two years to develop and test new and innovative strategies to prevent teen pregnancy.  For both opportunities, letters of intent are due May 21 and applications are due June 29.  Interested rural health providers can find more information on relevant teen pregnancy prevention efforts from HHS, CDC, and RHIHub.

Invest in Rural Transportation – July 19.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will provide no less than $450 million to state, local, and tribal governments for projects to improve transportation infrastructure in rural communities in the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program.  DOT funded 27 rural projects in 2017, such as the complete streets improvements in Collier County, Florida, and pedestrian pathways in Gallatin County, Montana.  For 2018, DOT will consider the extent to which proposed projects increase individuals’ transportation choices and improve residents’ connections to jobs, health care, and other essential services, particularly for rural communities.  Consider contributing to BUILD projects by helping eligible applicants describe how better transportation choices in rural communities can improve health and quality of life.

Strengthening STD Prevention – August 30.  State, local and territorial health departments are eligible for total funding of $475 million to prevent and control three major sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.  Priority populations include adolescents and young adults, men who have sex with men, and pregnant women.  The teen birth rate is one-third higher in rural counties (42.9), compared to metropolitan counties (32.6), according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy.

Rural Cancer Research – September 19.  The National Institutes of Cancer seeks two types of applications to improve the quality of cancer care in rural areas:  1) observational research that includes pilot testing of intervention to understand and address predictors of cancer care/treatment and outcome in rural low-income and/or underserved populations, or 2) intervention research to address known predictors of cancer care/treatment and outcomes with these populations.

Policy Updates

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

Comments Requested: Direct Provider Contracting in Medicare and Medicaid – May 25. 

The CMS Innovation Center seeks input on stakeholders’ experiences and perspectives about testing a direct provider contracting (DPC) model in Medicare and Medicaid. Under a DPC model, CMS would enter into arrangements with primary care practices whereby these practices would be receive a fixed per beneficiary per month payment to cover primary care services. Topics to comment on include how to design a model to attract small, independent practices/physicians and what safeguards can ensure that a DPC model would not negatively affect small or rural providers.

Comments Requested: CMS Updates Payment and Policy for Hospitals – June 25. CMS issued its proposed rule for fiscal year (FY) 2019 updating payment rates and rules for hospital inpatient services.  Rural hospitals are expected to receive smaller payment increases (1.1 percent) than urban hospitals (2.1 percent), with larger rural hospitals faring better than their smaller counterparts.  The rule reduces the number of quality measures hospitals are required to report across the five quality and value-based purchasing programs, including 39 measures from the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program and 10 measures from the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program.  Rural Health Value can help rural hospitals continue the transition to value-based care.  Also of note for rural providers, CMS has implemented provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 which extend the Medicare-Dependent Hospital program and Low-Volume Hospital Payment Adjustment for FY 2018 (further described at 83 FR 18301) through FY 2022.

Comments Requested: HRSA Burden Reduction – July 2.  FORHP’s parent agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks feedback for its ongoing work to reduce public and stakeholder burden.  Comments are open to the public and encouraged for entities significantly affected by HRSA regulations and policy, including state, local and Tribal governments, health care providers, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations and trade associations.

Comments Requested: Improving Prehospital Trauma Care – July 26.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking comment and response to 24 specific questions from the public, governmental agencies, and professional and public interest groups on improving prehospital trauma care in all locations, including rural, suburban, urban, and wilderness areas.

Resources, Learning Events and Technical Assistance

Preparing for Opioid Funding Opportunities – Monday, May 7 at 3:00 pm ET.  The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health hosts this webinar to identify current and future funding opportunities and resources for developing a strong application.

Behavioral Health for Older Veterans and their Caregivers – Wednesday, May 9 at 1:30 pm ET.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will give an overview of needs and identify available training and resources that communities can use to support caregivers of aging veterans in their community.  About 13 million veterans in the U.S. are aged 65 or older and a disproportionate number of these live in small towns and rural areas.

Treating Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorder – Wednesday, May 16 at 1:00 pm ET.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will host this one-hour webinar to review guidance for optimal maintenance of pregnant and parenting women with opioid use disorder.  Available resources will be discussed, including the Substance Use Warmline, which provides free and confidential clinician-to-clinician telephone consultation for substance use evaluation and management.  In addition to rising rates of opioid use, research has shown that opioids are now the most common reason for seeking treatment for illicit substances during pregnancy.

California Telehealth Resource Center (TRC) Regional Conference – May 16-18. Topics covered at this conference in San Diego, CA include: federal and state telehealth policy, mobile health, school-based telehealth, project ECHO for pain management and opioid addiction treatment, telehealth and EHR integration, and direct-to-consumer strategies. Clinician champions, coordinators, C-suite leadership, and IT professionals will among the 300 attendees at this regional conference hosted by the California TRC, one of twelve HRSA-funded Telehealth Resource Centers throughout the country.

Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (TRC) Regional Conference – June 5-6.  Another HRSA-funded TRC is hosting a two-day conference in Portland, Maine features regional and national telehealth leaders and seventeen breakout sessions on topics including strategies for planning and sustaining telehealth programs, telehealth for FQHCs, models for serving vulnerable populations through telehealth, a hands-on technology lab with the National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center, and more.

National Rural Institute on Alcohol and Drug Abuse – June 10-14.  Registration is now open for this annual conference in Menomonie, Wisconsin.  The four-day agenda includes keynote presentations and meeting sessions on substance abuse treatment from a rural perspective.

Resource of the Week

Have Insurance Questions About Mental Health or Addiction Services?  Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity laws require most health plans to apply similar rules to mental health benefits as they do for medical/surgical benefits.  This updated website explains the protections available for all types of insurance (e.g. employer, Medicare, Medicaid) and provides Federal and State contact information if a consumer has been denied coverage for mental health or addition services; reached a limit on their plan (such as copayments, deductibles, yearly visits, etc.); or has an overly large copay or deductible for such services.   In 2016, 18.7% of residents of nonmetropolitan counties, over 6.5 million people, had some type of mental illness.

Approaching Deadlines
Department of Labor Re-entry Projects – May 4
Funding for Inclusive Transit Systems – May 4
NHSC State Loan Repayment Program – May 7
National Health Service Corps Scholarships – May 10
USDA Community Connect Grants – May 14
CDC Funding for Opioid Overdose Prevention Research – May 15
Nominations for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) – May 15
Improve Rural Youth Literacy – May 18
Letters of Intent for Preventing Rural Teen Pregnancy – May 21
Comments Requested: Services for Abuse of Vulnerable Adults – May 21
Comments Requested: CMS Proposal Reducing State Medicaid Reporting Burden – May 22
USDA Rural Health and Safety Education Grants – May 24
Grants for Family Planning – May 24
Comments Requested: Direct Provider Contracting in Medicare and Medicaid – May 25
AHRQ Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grant – May 26
HCOP Funding for Health Professions Schools – May 29
Nominations: Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STD Prevention – May 30
Save the Date: Rural Cancer Control Research Meeting – May 30-31
Funding for Patient-Involved Research – June 1
Wellness and Resilience for AI/AN Children – June 4
Grants for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Programs – June 4
CDC Funding for Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke – June 11
Resources for Tribal Self Governance Planning – June 17
Resources for Tribal Self Governance Negotiation – June 17
State Initiative for Child Abuse and Neglect – June 18
CDC Health Promotion Research Centers – June 25
Comments Requested: CMS Updates Payment and Policy for Hospitals – June 25
Preventing Rural Teen Pregnancy – June 29
CMS Annual Call for Medicare EHR Incentive Program Measures  – June 29
Rural Health Care Telecommunications Program – June 29
Comments Requested: HRSA Burden Reduction – July 2
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