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Category Archives: Conferences

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 21, 2018

What’s New

FCC Approves Expansion of Rural Broadband Funding.  On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve a 40 percent increase in annual funding for the Rural Health Care Program (RHCP), raising its cap to $571 million per year.  The RHCP provides subsidies that allow rural health care providers to get telecommunications services at rates comparable to urban areas, where the cost is typically lower.  In the previous two years, requests for funding superseded the $400 million annual cap.
CDC: Obesity Prevalence In Rural Areas.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing a significantly higher prevalence of obesity (34 percent) among adults in rural counties compared to those in urban counties (29 percent).  The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity looked at self-reported data from 2016 in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and found that  “in 24 of 47 states, obesity prevalence was significantly higher among persons in nonmetropolitan counties than among those in metropolitan counties; only in Wyoming was obesity prevalence higher among metropolitan county residents.”

EPA Provides Support to Rural Communities.  On June 14, the Environmental Protection Agency announced technical assistance for six rural communities through Healthy Places for Healthy People, a federal initiative that engages local leadership “to create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant downtowns and neighborhoods.”  Experts will meet with partners in each community – located in Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Washington state – to identify local assets that can be used to support health and economic revitalization.

CMS Opioids Roadmap.  Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a roadmap outlining the agency’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic.  Lack of resources, health care infrastructure and workforce has meant a greater impact on rural communities, and CMS provides a look at how they’re monitoring the situation and using data to better understand patterns and best practices for prevention and treatment.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 14, 2018

What’s New

Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America. The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its atlas of rural areas with the most recent data available from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics on a number of socio-economic factors for the people who live in small towns.  The interactive map provides a pop-up window for each county with information on demographics, rural-urban classification, income, employment trends and status of veterans.  The 2018 County Health Rankings makes a direct correlation between these socio-economic indicators and health outcomes.

Rural Health  Research

Geographic Variation in Uncompensated Care Between Rural and Urban Hospitals. This brief just posted on the Rural Health Research Gateway reports on substantial differences in uncompensated care as a percent of operating expense between rural and urban hospitals and among regions of the country.  Researchers at the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center examined 2014-2016 Medicare Cost Reports and found that median uncompensated care costs declined across hospitals and Census regions. However, the costs increased for hospitals with less than $20 million in net patient revenue.  In 2016, the hospitals with the highest median uncompensated care as a percentage of operating expense were Critical Access Hospitals, other rural hospitals, and urban hospitals in the South.

Subscribe to research alerts from the Rural Health Research Gateway to be notified when new reports are available.

Policy Updates for Rural Health

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

Comments Requested: Rural Health Workgroup for Quality Measurement – July 2.  The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has been partnering with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the National Quality Forum (NQF) on the Measures Application Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup. The group was formed by CMS in 2017 to include the perspectives of rural providers and patients as those most knowledgeable about the challenges in rural areas to measuring performance in health care delivery.  The workgroup has developed recommendations and identified a core set of the best available (i.e., “rural relevant”) measures and identified rural-relevant gaps in measurement in the MAP Rural Health Draft Report 2 (pdf).  Those wishing to comment on these recommendations can create an NQF account and submit online.

Comments Requested: Increasing Investment in the Healthcare Sector – July 7.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS or the Department) seeks comment from the public on an effort to increase private sector innovation and investment in health care.  Specifically, the Department seeks input on the structure of a workgroup formed to increase dialogue and engagement between HHS and “those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry, such as healthcare innovation-focused companies, healthcare startup incubators and accelerators, healthcare investment professionals, healthcare-focused private equity firms, healthcare-focused venture capital firms, and lenders to healthcare investors and innovators.”  The request pertains only to the way such a workgroup may be convened and structured and seeks other ideas for ongoing public-private engagement.  Rural stakeholders may have something to contribute to specific areas of focus and inquiry for the workgroup, including perceived barriers to innovation and competition in the healthcare industry and the effect of HHS programs and regulations on rural areas.

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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 31, 2018

What’s New

Awards for Rural Health Care Services Outreach.  FORHP’s parent agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently awarded $11,961,114 to 60 rural communities for the 2018 Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program (Outreach Program).  This three-year, community-driven program requires collaboration between three or more local providers of health and/or social services to bridge together key elements of rural health care delivery.  The incoming cohort of Outreach Program awardees have proposed projects that will strengthen the health infrastructure using evidence-based strategies that have proven effective in other rural communities.  These projects will coordinate care and outreach to address health issues specific to the local population and must demonstrate improved outcomes and sustainability.  New to this program that started in 1991, is the Health Improvement Special Project (HISP), a collaboration between HRSA, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will use data to assess and track cardiovascular disease risk for a subset of individuals. Twelve of the new awardees will participate in this track.  To learn more about the objectives and approach of the Rural Health Care Services Outreach program, read about the projects that were funded in the 2015-2018 cohort.

New Requirements for Federal Grantees and ApplicantsIn March of this year, the U.S. General Services Administration announced actions to address fraudulent activity in its System for Award Management (SAM), which manages federally-funded grants.  At that time, GSA asked that all new organizations registering at SAM.gov submit an original notarized letter confirming identification of a grant recipient.  This requirement now applies to both new and existing entities registered with SAM.gov.  (Look for the small, red type toward the top of SAM’s home page.)

The Latest on Food InsecurityThe nonprofit Feeding America has issued its annual report on food insecurity, defined as the inability to reliably access a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.  Researchers looked at county-level data for a “better understanding of variations in local need to help communities develop more targeted strategies to reach people struggling with hunger.”  The findings report that 79 percent of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are rural.

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Registration Open: 2018 CMS National Training Program Workshops

May 30, 2018

CMS National Training Program Workshops – Registration is OPEN

You asked, and we listened! At the 2018 CMS National Training Program (NTP) Workshops, you can expect 2½ days of tailored training to meet a variety of learning needs. Whether you’re building a foundation of basic Medicare knowledge, or you want to expand your expertise, there’s something for everyone. You’re welcome to attend the entire 2½-day workshop, or you can choose to attend only the days that meet your varied interests and needs. Day 1 provides the basics, Day 2 has cross-cutting information including legislative and program updates, and Day 3 provides a deeper dive into more advanced topics. It will be helpful if you bring a laptop or tablet to participate in the casework activities.

The locations and dates for the workshops are listed below. You are invited to attend the location of your choice. There is no fee to attend.

REGISTER NOW

National Rural Grocery Summit

May 24, 2018

June 25-26, 2018
Manhattan, KS – Hilton Garden Inn
Register Now

Overview

Millions of rural residents now face limited choice and low quality in their retail food options. Significant research indicates a strong relationship between lack of access to healthy food and chronic, diet-related disease. Obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease are all associated with a lack of access to healthy foods.

An important source of healthy rural food access is the local grocery store. They are a vital source for nutrition and health, providing a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and protein. In fact, the presence of grocery stores in rural areas has been shown to correlate with lower rates of obesity and nutrition-related disease. Unfortunately, these rural businesses struggle and it seems every day we hear about another store closing shop and shutting their doors.

Because the loss of a rural grocery store threatens the health of local citizens and the very existence of that community, Kansas State University and a broad range of partners are working to assist rural communities and their grocery stores. Toward that goal, we are proud to announce that on June 25-26, 2018 we will host the Sixth National Rural Grocery Summit at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan, Kansas. At the Sixth National Rural Grocery Summit we will bring together store owners, citizen leaders, food suppliers, academic researchers, policy makers, and funders to talk with one another about how best to sustain this critical piece of community infrastructure and improve the health of our rural citizens.

Objectives

  • To provide the latest and best thinking about rural grocery stores and rural community sustainability
  • To offer a discussion around the latest models for providing healthy food access to rural communities
  • To provide a discussion regarding rural grocery best business practices
  • To provide rural grocery store owners and rural grocery stakeholders the opportunity to network and dialogue with one another about the significant issues and challenges they face
  • To chart a path forward for rural healthy food access

Save the Date! Workforce Grand Rounds Webinar Series:Building Health Equity: The Link Between Social Determinants, Healthy Communities, and Workforce Training

May 22, 2018

3RNet
2018 Annual conference
Philadelphia, PA
September 11-13, 2018
https://conference.3RNet.org

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

May 10, 2018

What’s New

CMS Announces Rural Health Strategy.  On Tuesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the agency’s first strategy aimed directly at rural populations, with five objectives for health equity.  Among these, empowering patients to make decisions about their health care is one that CMS has endorsed for all beneficiaries.  But others, such as advancing telehealth and viewing CMS policy through a rural lens, acknowledge a more significant challenge specific to rural areas.

Funding Opportunities

Community Building for Rural and Native Americans, Letters of Interest – May 29.  Rural community development corporations and Tribal housing authorities are among those eligible to apply for funding from Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit for affordable housing.  The application is a two-step process: Letters of Interest (LOI) must be submitted by May 29 and will be evaluated to select applicants who may submit a full proposal due on August 6. For more information, register to attend the Rural and Native American LOI Webinar – Thursday, May 10 (TODAY) at 2:00 pm ET.

DOJ Funding for Drug Courts – June 5.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make approximately 40 grants with an award ceiling of $2 million to develop and improve adult drug courts with evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder and other practices proven to reduce obstacles to recovery. Eligible applicants include city, county and state governments, and Native American tribal governments.  Opioid Use Disorder has had a proportionally larger impact on rural areas, but abuse of alcohol and other substances has also contributed to low education attainment, poverty and high risk behaviors.

NURSE Corps Scholarship Program – June 14. Students enrolled – or accepted for enrollment – in a professional degree program at an accredited school of nursing in the U.S. are eligible to apply for tuition, related costs and a monthly stipend in exchange for work at a facility in rural and medically-underserved areas upon graduation.

Director Training for Rural Residency Programs – June 15.  The National Institute for Program Director Development (NIPDD) helps physician faculty and directors of rural residency programs. This funding from the Rural Training Track (RTT) Collaborative provides full scholarship for the $5,500 tuition fee.  Those accepted for an NIPDD fellowship will engage with and learn from seasoned program directors, family medicine educators and other family medicine leaders about effective rural residency training.

Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program – June 22. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will award up to 30 grants to fund promising community-based approaches that reduce suicide and substance use, address trauma, and promote the mental health and resiliency of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth. AI/AN tribes, tribal organizations, and consortia of tribes and tribal organizations are eligible to apply for this five-year grant program.

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