September 20, 2018
HRSA Awards Rural Communities to Combat the Opioid Crisis. This includes $25.5 million to over 120 rural organizations to increase access to substance abuse prevention and treatment services serving rural populations across the country. Specifically, $19 million was awarded to 95 organizations under FORHP’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning and nearly $6.5 million to 26 rural organizations to expand the reach of the Rural Health Opioid Program. In addition, nearly $400 million is going to support 1,232 health centers across the country. To learn about HRSA-supported resources, please visit HRSA’s Opioid Crisis page.
NAS Workshop: Achieving Rural Health Equity and Well-Being. The National Academies of Science (NAS) convened a workshop in 2017 “to explore the impacts of economic, demographic, and social issues in rural communities and to learn about asset-based approaches to addressing the associated challenges.” The NAS has just released a report of the presentations and discussions from the workshop.
State of Obesity 2018 Report. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health have released the 15th annual State of Obesity report, announcing an “urgent need to increase evidence-based obesity prevention programs.” Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the report finds that adult obesity rates are at or above 35 percent in seven mostly-rural states: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Also this week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a final recommendation on behavioral weight loss interventions. (more…)
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 In the previous two years, requests for funding superseded the $400 million annual cap.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.
June 20, 2018
The 2018 NHSC New Site Application is now open and will close on August 14, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET. Eligible sites include health care facilities that generally provide outpatient, ambulatory, and primary health care services (medical, dental, and behavioral) to populations residing in high-need urban and rural areas.
NHSC recently received $105 million for future NHSC Loan Repayment Program awards that expand and improve access to quality opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas. Outpatient substance use disorder (SUD) treatment facilities are also now eligible to apply if you provide any of these services:
June 14, 2018
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.
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.
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.
May 31, 2018
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 Applicants. In 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 Insecurity. The 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.
May 25, 2018
Apply today for the 2018 Faculty Loan Repayment Program!
The Faculty Loan Repayment Program provides individuals who have an interest in eligible health profession careers with the opportunity to receive loan repayment while serving as faculty members at accredited and eligible health professions schools.
Participants will receive up to $40,000 for two (2) years of service to repay the outstanding principal and interest of qualifying educational loans. Applicants must obtain all qualifying educational loans prior to the application deadline of June 28, 2018.
Before you apply, read the annually updated Application and Program Guidance. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the contract.
To be eligible, all applicants must:
Join our Faculty Loan Repayment Program Technical Assistance Call.
Thursday, June 7
3-4:30 p.m. ET
May 24, 2018
Access to healthy, affordable foods and beverages is essential to help all children grow up at a healthy weight. As advocates, decision-makers, and policymakers create policies and programs to promote the well-being of children, it is important to provide them with a body of evidence that shows the best approaches and strategies to improve children’s nutrition habits, dietary intake, and weight status.
Healthy Eating Research, an RWJF national research program, is funding $2.6 million toward research on actions and strategies that will help improve children’s physical, social, and emotional development through the consumption of healthy foods and beverages.
Proposals for studies that promote health equity and address disparities, such as high rates of overweight and obesity experienced by children from low-income rural and urban communities and racial and ethnic minority populations, will be prioritized.