USDA Launches High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Resource Guide

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2019 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities.

“High-speed broadband e-Connectivity is becoming more and more essential to doing business, delivering health care, and, for schoolchildren, doing homework in rural communities,” Hazlett said. “This user-friendly tool will help rural customers find the many resources USDA has available to support the expansion and use of e-Connectivity in rural America.”

The e-Connectivity Toolkit (PDF, 4.3 MB) features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment. The easy-to-use resource is a simple guide that allows customers to identify their type of e-Connectivity project and locate resources the federal government offers for planning, equipment, construction, research and other e-Connectivity projects. Resources such as grants, loans and technical assistance are available from multiple Mission Areas at USDA, including Rural Development, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Forest Service.

The toolkit highlights examples of how e-Connectivity resources are being used to increase access to broadband services in rural communities. It is free and available to the public online, and can be easily printed for offline use.

USDA’s launch of the e-Connectivity Toolkit closely follows Secretary Sonny Perdue’s unveiling of the ReConnect Program, a pilot program authorized by the Consolidated Budget Act of 2018, to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas that lack sufficient access to broadband.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

The Journal of Appalachian Health Launches Today

F. Douglas Scutchfield, Editor,

The Editorial Staff, and the Editorial and Advisory Boards

Invite you to participate in the launch of the

Journal of Appalachian Health.

The Journal of Appalachian Health is now open for both readers and authors. The journal is an online, open access, peer-reviewed journal with a mission of creating a healthy and thriving Appalachia. The journal, thanks to the support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will require no subscription fee or author publication fee.

The journal is particularly interested in receiving submissions that focus on Appalachian health inequities and social determinants of health. If you are interested in submitting articles for publication in the journal, the instructions for authors and further description of the journal are located at:

https://uknowledge.uky.edu/jah/

If you are interested in receiving your free copy of the journal, either go to the journal website https://uknowledge.uky.edu/jah/ to sign up for your free journal or send an email to

AppalachHealth@UKy.edu

to be put on our journal mailing list.

We thank you and appreciate your interest and commitment to improving the health of the Appalachian Region.

Join the All of Us National Research Program

The All of Us Research Program is a historic effort to gather data over many years from one million or more people living in the United States, with the ultimate goal of accelerating research and improving health. Unlike research studies that are focused on a specific disease or population, All of Us will serve as a national research resource to inform thousands of studies, covering a wide variety of health conditions. Researchers will use data from the program to learn more about how individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biological makeup can influence health and disease. Participants may be able to learn more about their own health and contribute to an effort that may advance the health of generations to come.

Visit https://allofus.nih.gov/ to learn more on the nationwide effort!

Program Overview – Information about the program.

Scientific Opportunities – The large and diverse participant group will help our researchers explore questions and answers on a whole new level.

Participation – How the research cohort will work, participation goals and guidelines.

Program Partners – An overview of the various partners that have been assembled to deliver the program.

Protocol – A detailed look at the program’s plans for building a robust research resource of data from one million or more participants.

Who We Are – The NIH established independent advisory groups comprised of members who have deep and diverse expertise.

Program FAQ – Frequently asked questions about the All of Us Research Program.

Contact Us – How to contact the All of Us Research Program.

USDA Extends Deadlines for ReConnect Rural Broadband Program

WASHINGTON, February 6, 2019 – Acting Administrator for USDA’s Rural Utilities Service Bette Brand announced today USDA would extend application deadlines for the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program).

To give potential applicants adequate time to access technical assistance from USDA staff and its partners, the first application deadline will be pushed back to May 31, 2019 or later. Previously, application deadlines began in April. New specific deadlines for ReConnect Program grants, loans, and grant-loan combination applications will be posted in the Federal Register in late February.

“We’ve seen such strong interest in ReConnect from rural telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives, that we want to be sure there’s enough time for them to put solid applications together for these innovative funding opportunities,” said Bette Brand. “The USDA team stands ready to assist with engineering and business plans, to be sure these new Federal funds are as impactful as possible.”

As one part of that technical assistance, USDA is hosting a webinar with general information about the ReConnect program and guidance from experts for potential applicants. This webinar is open to the public and interested parties, and will be offered at 2:00 pm Eastern Time on both Thursday, February 7 and Wednesday, February 13, 2019.

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On December 13, Agriculture Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect”, including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.

Telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities may apply for funding through USDA’s new ReConnect Program to connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service. Through the ReConnect Program, USDA is making available approximately $200 million for grants, as well as $200 million for loan and grant combinations, and $200 million for low-interest loans. Funds will be awarded to projects that have a financially-sustainable business models that will bring high-speed broadband to rural homes, businesses, farms, ranches, and community facilities such as first responders, healthcare sites, and schools.

More information about the ReConnect program may be found at http://reconnect.usda.gov.

New Rural Innovation Profile: Rural Health Network: Innovation in Whole-Person Care

Rural Health Network Thrives on Innovation in Whole-Person Care – Health Care Collaborative (HCC) of Rural Missouri, a rural health network comprised of more than 55 member organizations, wraps social service support around the patients who receive care at four HCC health care clinics. (February 2019)

Link:  https://ruralhealthvalue.public-health.uiowa.edu/files/Whole-Person Care.pdf

Top resources on the Rural Health Value website:

  • Value-Based Care Assessment – Assess capacity and capabilities to deliver value-based care. Receive an eight category readiness report.
  • Physician Engagement – Score current engagement and build effective relationships to create a shared vision for a successful future.
  • Board and Community Engagement – Hold value-based care discussions as part of strategic planning and performance measurement.
  • Social Determinants of Health – Learn and encourage rural leaders/care teams to address issues to improve their community’s health.

HRSA Releases New Health Workforce Data

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently released an updatedU.S. Health Workforce Chartbook that provides estimates for 35 health occupations, including physicians, nurses, dentists, counselors, and laboratory technicians. The Chartbook includes information on demographics, workforce settings, and geographic distribution. HRSA also updated the U.S. Health Workforce State Profiles as a companion to the Chartbook, with corresponding data on the number of graduates in each profession, total number of providers, and number per capita.

Rural Philanthropy Toolkit.

Rural Philanthropy ToolkitA new toolkit at the Rural Health Information Hub, developed in collaboration with the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, is designed to help rural organizations create and maintain partnerships with philanthropies. The toolkit provides steps and resources for connecting with philanthropic organizations and examples of emerging strategies in rural communities.

CDC: Opioid Prescribing Higher in Rural Areas.

CDC: Opioid Prescribing Higher in Rural Areas.  In the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed electronic health record data from 2014-2017 and found that patients in the most rural counties had an 87% higher chance of receiving an opioid prescription compared to patients in large metropolitan counties.  The report posits higher odds may be attributed to several factors, including higher prevalence of conditions associated with pain and limited access to alternative therapies

Community Benefit Activities: An Updated Review

The Flex Monitoring Team’s latest briefing paper is an updated review of CAHs’ community benefit activities. This paper is a companion paper to FMT’s Briefing Paper #39 which provided a snapshot of how CAHs use the community health needs assessment (CHNA) process to address community needs.

This paper examines community benefit data from the IRS Form 990 for 50 tax-exempt CAHs to understand how these hospitals are fulfilling their community benefit obligations and assess community benefit spending patterns. Examples of how state Flex programs can support CAHs in meeting their community benefit obligations and address gaps in CHNA compliance are discussed.

Click through to review our findings.

Access the report.