As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “We Can Do This” public education campaign to increase confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage vaccination, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a new initiative today to connect Americans with facts and information on vaccines from doctors, scientists, and health professionals through high-impact digital platforms. Read full news release
COVID-19 Update: FDA Revoked the EUA for Bamlanivimab When Administered Alone
On April 16, the FDA revoked the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for bamlanivimab, when administered alone, due to a sustained increase in COVID-19 viral variants in the U.S. that are resistant to this antibody therapy. The FDA determined that the known and potential benefits of bamlanivimab, when administered alone, no longer outweigh the known and potential risks.
Medicare will cover and pay for bamlanivimab, when administered alone, for dates of service from November 10, 2020 – April 16, 2021.
The FDA indicates that alternative monoclonal antibody therapies remain appropriate to treat COVID-19 patients, and health care providers may continue using these authorized therapies when administered together:
- Casirivimab & imdevimab
- Bamlanivimab & etesevimab
- Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers EUA of Casirivimab and Imdevimab Section 15, Antiviral Resistance
- Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers EUA of Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab Section 15, Antiviral Resistance
- Monoclonal Antibody COVID-19 Infusion webpage
Despite 90 percent of Americans now being eligible to receive a COVID vaccine and more than half of rural residents having gotten a dose, one in five say they will not get vaccinated. “If your doctor or nurse doesn’t want to take the vaccine, there’s no national campaign that’s going to overcome that,” says NRHA CEO Alan Morgan. In Maine, residents are traveling north to find appointments, which NRHA President John Gale says could indicate rural hesitancy. The CDC has advised providers to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until further review of the six reported U.S. cases of a rare type of blood clot. This vaccine had been considered a boon to rural areas where transportation is less accessible. When it comes to SDOH our health care system is not equipped to vaccinate rural communities. Going forward, we must invest in people and infrastructure. To advocate on behalf of rural health, participate in NRHA’s rural health advocacy campaigns. NRHA has teamed up with the Chartis Center for Rural Health to examine vaccinating rural hospital staff. Offer your perspective
J&J COVID-19 Vaccine: Health Alert
The CDC issued a Health Alert, about the CDC and FDA’s recommended pause in the use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for adverse events and can provide proper management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot. This alert includes specific recommendations for clinicians.
HHS Secretary Becerra Announces More Than 500,000 Americans Have Enrolled in Marketplace Coverage During Special Enrollment Period
Largest increase in enrollment among Black consumers and among Americans near the poverty level in two years
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that more than half a million consumers have already signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov as a result of the Biden Administration’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The SEP, along with the additional financial assistance afforded by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), offers the opportunity for individuals and families to take advantage of significantly reduced premiums, increased savings, and quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplaces using the Federal Platform.
April 1, 2021
American Rescue Plan Includes $6 Billion for CHCs. The sweeping, nationwide plan to recover from the pandemic will invest more than $6 billion in underserved and rural areas through Community Health Centers (CHCs). More than 91 percent of health center patients are individuals or families living at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, and more than 60 percent are racial or ethnic minorities.
Volunteer to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has expanded its definition of persons authorized to give the vaccine. These include, among others, current and retired traditional and non-traditional health care professionals, and students in health care programs.
HHS: Special Enrollment Period for Health Coverage EXTENDED. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that the special enrollment period for qualified individuals and families to purchase health insurance in states served by the HealthCare.gov platform has been extended to August 15. Some states run their own health insurance enrollment websites and may or may not make a similar offer. Enter your zip code to find local help.
CHART Model’s ACO Track RFA Delayed to Spring 2022. This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the release of the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Transformation Track Request for Applications (RFA) is delayed until spring 2022. The CHART Model aims to help rural communities transform their health care delivery systems. This delay applies only to the ACO Transformation Track. Applications for the CHART Community Transformation Track are due by May 11, 2021.
HHS Reports on Risk of COVID-19 Infections in Fee-For-Service Medicare. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services points to several factors raising the risk of infections, hospitalization, and deaths. These risks vary across the country, with some geographic areas having higher concentrations of at-risk beneficiaries. This issue brief provides information on risk scores at the national, state, and county level, and includes a database of risk scores by county.
COMING SOON: Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) will make $3.2 billion available to qualifying households to lower the cost of high-speed internet service, providing discounts on internet service bills and an opportunity for a computer or tablet. The EBB program is similar to the Lifeline program with expanded eligibility, vendors, and subsidies. We encourage you to develop a plan now to support patients to apply promptly after the application period is announced by the end of April; funds are expected to go quickly.
Funding and Opportunities
DOJ Services for Victims of Human Trafficking – Extended to April 16. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 27 awards of up to $800,000 each, for direct services to victims of human trafficking. Eligible applicants include state, local, and tribal governments, public housing authorities, and nonprofit organizations, with priority given to rural areas. A separate but related funding notice, DOJ Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking – Extended to April 16, will invest $15 million in 25 awards for programs that provide transitional housing and financial assistance.
Pre-Admissions Workshops for AI/AN Students in Health Professions Training/Schools – April 23. The National Center for American Indian Health Professions helps American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) prepare for application to medical school or other advanced health professions program. Selected students must be current high school seniors (18 years or older), current community college or undergraduate students, or recent college graduates.
Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs for the NHSC – May 6. National Health Service Corps (NHSC) programs received an increase of $800 million in funding as part of the American Rescue Plan for pandemic relief (see What’s New above). This additional funding will support the largest number of NHSC clinicians in the program’s history. There is one application for working health professionals to apply to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program, and the NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program. The NHSC Scholarship Program, which is for eligible medical, dental and nursing students in any year of training, provides up to four years of scholar support. Applications for all programs are due on May 6.
SAMHSA Overdose Treatments for Use by First Responders – May 17. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will make up to 20 awards with total funding of $7.9 million to help first responders administer a drug or device for emergency reversal of opioid overdose. Eligible applicants include state, local, and tribal governments and tribal organizations.
Rural Health Research
Research in this section is provided by the HRSA/FORHP-supported Rural Health Research Gateway. Sign up to receive alerts when new publications become available.
Post-acute Care Trajectories for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries: Planned versus Actual Hospital Discharges to Skilled Nursing Facilities and Home Health Agencies. Post-acute care services are designed to help patients transition from hospitalization in acute care facilities to their homes. Skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies provide the majority of post-acute care services to Medicare beneficiaries. This study from the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center used Medicare administrative data for rural, fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries to describe post-acute care trajectories following acute hospitalization and examine differences between planned discharge disposition from the hospital and actual post-acute care received.
CMS Guidance to Resume Hospital Survey Activities. As of March 23, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is lifting the suspension on hospital survey activities, which was put in place due to the public health emergency. Non-immediate jeopardy complaints received during the suspension period will be investigated within 45 days of the memo’s release. Hospitals with surveys that ended after January 20, 2021 will have 10 days from the memo’s release to develop plans of correction, unless an extension is requested.
Updated Guidance on Emergency Preparedness Requirements. On March 26, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance interpreting the emergency preparedness requirements in the Burden Reduction Final Rule of 2019, which applies to all providers and suppliers. In response to the public health emergency, the guidance also provides best practices, lessons learned, and planning considerations for emerging infectious diseases.
Learning Events and Technical Assistance
HRSA Building COVID-19 Vaccine Trust for Patients – Wednesday, April 7 at 1:00 pm ET. The Bureau of Health Workforce at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) invites clinicians, grantees, students, and the public at large to the Clinical Leaders Forum webinar: Building COVID-19 Vaccine Trust for Community Health Center Patients.
ASTHO Tackling Inequities in Digital Care Webinar – Monday, April 12 at 2:00 pm ET. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) will hold a 90-minute webinar to present innovations that improve digital equity and potentially lower disparities.
NHLBI: Disease Management Tools for the Underserved – Wednesday, April 14 at 10:00 am. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is hosting a two-day virtual workshop to discuss barriers to—and opportunities for—improving heart, lung, blood, and sleep health in underserved communities. Participants will discuss how to tailor health monitoring devices and tools that diagnose patients in underserved, low-resource, and remote communities.
NTIA Series on Broadband Grant Programs – Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 pm ET. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, will hold a series of webinars in connection with three new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: The Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and the Connecting Minority Communities Program. The webinars, taking place April – July, are designed to help applicants prepare high quality grant applications.
HRSA: Expanding Rural OUD Treatment via Telehealth – Thursday, April 15 at 12:00 pm ET. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will hold a one-hour session to highlight innovative telehealth for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) in rural areas.
Rural Community Health Workers for COVID-19 – Thursday, April 15 at 1:00 pm ET. The National Rural Health Association (NRHA), in partnership with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), will host an hour-long webinar featuring Dr. John Brooks, Medical Epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See more about rural Community Health Workers below under Resources of the Week.
Resource of the Week
Opioid and Substance Use Strategies for CAHs. The HRSA/FORHP-funded Flex Monitoring Team has released their archived webinar on opioid and substance use in rural communities. The webinar took place in February to accompany a policy brief published last year. The webinar discusses why Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) should address these issues, provides a framework to support them in this work, and provides examples of activities CAHs are participating in.
CMS Community Health Access and Rural Transformation Model (CHART) – Letters of Intent (Optional) April 13
DOJ Research and Evaluation on Violence Against Women – Extended to April 13 (from March 16)
NIH Community COPD Awareness – April 14
DOJ Housing Assistance Grants for Victims of Human Trafficking – Extended to April 16 (from March 1)
DOJ Services for Victims of Human Trafficking – Extended to April 16 (from March 2)
DOL Grants for State Apprenticeship Programs – April 26
DOL Young Adult Reentry Partnership – April 26
CMS Primary Care First Model Cohort 2 – April 30
Delta Region Innovative Readiness Training Medical Missions – Letters of Intent April 30
NHSC Loan Repayment Program – May 6
NHSC Scholarship Program – May 6
Nurse Corps Scholarship Program – May 6
ACL Alzheimer’s Disease Program Grants to States and Communities – Extended to May 10 (from April 26)
CDC Drug Free Communities – May 10
CMS Community Health Access and Rural Transformation Model (CHART) – Extended to May 11 (from March 16)
CMS Minority Research Grant Program – June 11
USDA Summer Food Service Program – June 15
Special Enrollment Period for Health Coverage – Extended to August 15 (from May 15)
AHRQ Research to Improve Patient Transitions through HIT – December 2022
Department of Labor Stand Down Grants for Veterans Services – through December 2021
NIH Practice-Based Research for Mental Health Interventions in Pediatric Primary Care Settings – July 1, 2021 (Letters of Intent June 1)
NIH Research for AI/AN End-of-Life Care – January 8, 2022
NIH Research – Alcohol and Other Substance Use – Various Dates Through August 2022
NIH Research on Minority Health/Health Disparities – September 8, 2022
NIH Research on Palliative Care in Home/Community Settings – September 8, 2022
NIH Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health – Various Dates Until September 2023
USDA Guaranteed Loans for Rural Rental Housing – through 2021
The Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy are distributed weekly. To subscribe, sign up for Rural Health Updates at HRSA.gov.