January 28, 2021

What’s New

New National Strategy for COVID-19 Response. Last week, the White House released a plan for the pandemic that includes a campaign for vaccination, setting standards for controlling the spread of the virus, and enacting the Defense Production Act to extend emergency relief.

GAO Report on Rural Hospital Closures.  The latest report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) addresses the effects of hospital closures on residents in rural areas. Among other objectives, the report examines how closures affected the number of health care providers, and the distance residents traveled for health care services.

NIH Assessment of COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published results of a study to determine what Americans think about getting immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine.  Of a group of 1,878 participants, the greatest reluctance to get a vaccine was found among African-Americans (34%), Hispanics (29%), rural dwellers (29%), and those who had children at home (25%).

ACF Report on Child Maltreatment.  The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) reports on rates of children who are victims of neglect or abuse using data collected from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.  In 2018, the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services recommended that federal policy include a strategy for awareness, research, and programs to address the health consequences of Adverse Childhood Experiences for rural, tribal, and other at-risk populations.  See the Funding section below for several programs serving children and youth.

COVID-19 Resources

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy FAQs for COVID-19.  A set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from our grantees and stakeholders.

COVID-19 FAQs and Funding for HRSA Programs. Find all funding and frequently asked questions for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

CARES Act Provider Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions.  Includes information on terms and conditions, attestation, reporting and auditing requirements, general and targeted distributions, and how to report capital equipment purchases.

CDC COVID-19 Updates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance, including a section specific to rural health care, a Toolkit for Tribal Communities, and a tracker of cases, deaths, and tests by countyNew: COVID-19 Vaccine Locator.

CMS Coronavirus Stakeholder Calls.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hosts recurring online sessions to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS.

HHS Coronavirus Data Hub.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) website includes estimated and reported hospital capacity by state, with numbers updated daily.

COVID-19 Data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The site provides access to demographic and economic data, including state and local data on at-risk populations, poverty, health insurance coverage, and employment.

ATTC Network COVID-19 Resources for Addictions Treatment. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) Network was established in 1993 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The online catalog of COVID-related resources includes regularly-updated guidance and trainings for professionals in the field.

GHPC’s Collection of Rural Health Strategies for COVID-19.  The FORHP-supported Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) provides reports, guidance, and innovative strategies gleaned from their technical assistance and peer learning sessions with FORHP grantees.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Counties.  The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis provides up-to-date data on rural and urban confirmed cases throughout the United States.  An animated map shows the progression of cases beginning January 21 to the present.

Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019.  The Rural Health Information Hub has a compendium of rural-specific activities and guidelines, including Rural Healthcare Surge Readiness, a tool with resources for responding to a local surge in cases.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this list of resources, tools, and trainings for behavioral health and recovery providers.

Mobilizing Health Care Workforce via Telehealth.  ProviderBridge.org was created by the Federation of State Medical Boards through the CARES Act and the FORHP-supported Licensure Portability Program. The site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing by state as well as a provider portal to connect volunteer health care professionals to state agencies and health care entities.

Online Resource for Licensure of Health Professionals.  Created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing in each state for psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists assistants, and social workers.

Funding and Opportunities

RWJF Summer Health Professions Education Program – February 5.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provides a free summer enrichment program for college students interested in the health professions. Eligible students include, but are not limited to, individuals who identify as African American/Black, American Indian and Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino, and those who are from communities of socioeconomic and educational disadvantage.

SAMHSA National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative – Category III – February 12.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will make 70 awards with a total investment of $30 million for community-level treatment and services for children, adolescents, and their families who experience or witness traumatic events.  Categories I and II of this initiative are for a single national center and for service centers for specific types of events or population groups, respectively.  SAMHSA intends an even distribution of awards among rural and urban populations for eligible applicants that include state, local, and tribal governments, public or private universities and colleges, and community- or faith-based organizations.

HRSA Loan Programs for Health Professions Schools –February 25. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) offers four loan programs for colleges and universities.  Schools can then offer low, fixed-rate loans to students pursuing a wide range of health care careers.

DOJ Culturally-Specific Services for Sexual Assault Victims – March 1.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 12 awards of up to $300,000 each to support services for sexual assault victims.  Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations that provide community-based, culturally specific services in the following racial and ethnic communities:  American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, Asian American, African American, and Hispanic.

DOJ Mentoring for Youth Affected by the Opioid Crisis – March 2.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 17 awards of up to $1.25 million each to provide services to children and youth impacted by drug use.  Eligible applicants are nonprofit and for-profit organizations that have a mentoring program that has been operating for at least one year.

DOJ Services for Victims of Human Trafficking – March 2.  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 – March 1, will invest $15 million in 25 awards for programs that provide transitional housing and financial assistance.

DOJ Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program – March 4.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will invest $3.8 million for 12 awards to create or expand sustainable sexual assault services provided by Tribes, tribal organizations, and nonprofit tribal organizations within Indian country and Alaska Native villages.

ARC Workforce/Economic Revitalization in Appalachia – Letters of Intent March 5.  The Federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) will make awards of up to $2.5 million each for projects that promote job creation and re-employment opportunities for displaced coal-economy workers. Projects should be a collaboration of state, local, and regional stakeholders and address priorities that include substance abuse response, enhancing broadband services, and strengthening the health care sector.  Eligible applicants, including state, local, and tribal governments and organizations within the 420 counties of the ARC service area are required to submit a Letter of Intent by March 5.

DOJ Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence – March 8.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make eight awards from a total investment of $7.5 million to support services for children.  Priority will be given to applications addressing rural-specific challenges.  Eligible applicants include state, local, and tribal governments, independent school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations.

DOJ Grants for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Against Children – March 9.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will invest $4.8 million in 11 awards to support community-based efforts to address the needs of children and youth impacted by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  A separate program, DOJ Grants for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – March 29, invests  $30 million in 45 grants to improve the criminal justice response to violence with adult victims.  Eligible applicants include state, local, and tribal governments and courts.

NEA Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design – March 12.  The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) seeks communities to participate in its initiative involving residents and local leaders in community design.  Design challenges may include downtown revitalization, heritage preservation of land or buildings, and creating public or civic spaces for local identity and active recreation.  Up to four rural communities will be selected for an on-site rural design workshop to develop solutions to a specific design challenge.  Up to 15 communities will participate in a learning cohort of government, nonprofits, local business, and civic organizations training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques.

HRSA P4 Challenge: Primary Care to Improve Child Health – March 15.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks innovative approaches to increase access to pediatric primary care, including well-child visits and immunization services.  Eligibility for the Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention (P4) includes health providers, health educators, community-based organizations, public school and housing entities.

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. 

Barriers to Health Care Access for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries.  This policy brief from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center presents findings from an online survey of rural health clinics describing barriers for Medicare patients in accessing healthcare services, and recommendations for how to improve access to care.

Policy Updates

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