Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Health Care Guidelines Announced to Improve Care for Women and Children

Updates Will Result in Additional Services with No Out-of-Pocket Cost, Including Expanded Coverage for Breast Pumps and Adolescent Suicide Risk Screening

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated comprehensive preventive care and screening guidelines for women and for infants, children, and adolescents. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), certain group health plans and insurance issuers must provide coverage with no out-of-pocket cost for preventive health services within these HRSA-supported comprehensive guidelines. Among a number of updates, for the first time the guidelines will require such group health plans and insurance plans to provide coverage without a co-pay or deductible for double electric breast pumps.

HHS is also releasing a new report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) highlighting how the ACA has increased access to preventive care for millions of Americans, including vaccinations, contraception, and cancer screening. The ASPE report estimates that more than 150 million people with private insurance, including 58 million women and 37 million children, are receiving preventive services with no cost-sharing, as required by the ACA.

Read the press release.

Spread the Word About Vaccine Boosters

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released new resources – posters, flyers, videos, and talking points – to help promote the extra protection from COVID-19 boosters.  All vaccinated adults aged 18+ are eligible for a booster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded booster eligibility to include adolescents ages 12 to 17, recommending that they receive a booster shot five months after their initial vaccination.

The CDC also released a new resource, based on input from rural health departments and organizations, with 12 strategies to increase vaccine uptake in rural communities (pdf).  Search by zip code to find nearby locations providing adult and pediatric vaccines and boosters for COVID-19 and the flu at

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $103 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Reduce Burnout and Promote Mental Health and Wellness Among Health Care Workforce

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced $103 million in awards to improve the retention of health care workers and help respond to the nation’s critical staffing needs by reducing burnout and promoting mental health and wellness among the health care workforce. These awards will fund evidence-informed programs, practices and training, with a specific focus on providers in underserved and rural communities. The funds, secured through the Biden-Harris Administration’s American Rescue Plan, will be disbursed to 45 grantees.

COVID-19 has compounded rates of depression and anxiety among health care workers. The relentless physical and emotional demands of treating patients during a pandemic have exacerbated longstanding barriers to workplace well-being. While the challenge is complex, these multi-year awards will support proven strategies for health care providers, academic institutions, and other recipients to reduce burnout and build resiliency. These strategies will include the creation of partnerships and utilization of local resources to directly support health professionals’ response to workplace stressors, and provide training to help individuals manage the constantly changing, high-stress environment of health care.

“Now more than ever, it is critical to support the well-being of our health care workforce, who are working every day to protect each of us,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Today’s awards will provide new tools to help support our health professionals’ resilience as they continue to face the stress and challenges of responding to COVID-19 and other health care needs and provide high quality care.”

HRSA is making these awards through three programs:

See a list of the award recipients here:

HRSA Seeking Nominations for Migrant Health Advisory Council

Members of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health serve four-year terms to advise the HHS Secretary on the selection, funding, and operation of Migrant Health Centers.  Seven positions of the 15-member council are currently open.  See the Federal Register notice for more details on eligibility; nominations will be accepted on a continuous basis.   Click here for more information.

USDA Seeks Applications for Technical Assistance to Expand Access to Safe, Affordable and Equitable Housing for Farmworkers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small announced that the Department is inviting applications for technical assistance grants to help organizations apply for funding to develop decent, safe, affordable and equitable housing for year-round and migrant or seasonal domestic farmworkers.

The Department is offering priority points to applications for projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration: in particular, projects that will help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects seeking to address these critical challenges facing people living in rural America.

USDA will make $1 million in grants available for eligible nonprofits through the Off-Farm Labor Housing Technical Assistance Grant Program. These nonprofits may use the funds to provide technical expertise, information, and services to help organizations complete USDA loan and grant applications to develop decent, safe, affordable, and equitable housing for farmworkers.

Electronic applications must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on March 21, 2022. For additional information on how to apply, see page 3071 of the Jan. 20, 2022, Federal Register or

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

If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

Statement by CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure On the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on Vaccine Requirements

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extremely pleased the Supreme Court recognized CMS’ authority to set a consistent COVID-19 vaccination standard for workers in facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid. CMS’ vaccine rule will cover 10.4 million health care workers at 76,000 medical facilities. Giving patients assurance on the safety of their care is a critical responsibility of CMS and a key to combatting the pandemic.

Vaccines are proven to reduce the risk of severe disease. The prevalence of the virus and its ever-evolving variants in health care settings continues to increase the risk of staff contracting and transmitting COVID-19, putting their patients, families, and our broader communities at risk. And health care staff being unable to work because of illness or exposure to COVID-19 further strains the health care system and limits patient access to safe and essential care.

CMS is already implementing its health care worker vaccination rule in 25 states and territories that were not covered by preliminary injunctions. Today’s decision will enable us to fully implement this rule, and we look forward to working with health care providers and their workers to protect patients. We will continue our extensive outreach and assistance efforts encouraging individuals working in health care to get vaccinated.

CMS is disappointed in the decision on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard, and agrees with President Biden and Secretary Walsh: This is a major setback for the health and safety of workers across the country.

The bottom line is that vaccine requirements work and are an important tool to protect patients – and also to keep our health care workers healthy. We’ve already seen many health care providers successfully implement requirements for their staff. We look forward to working with health care providers to get their workers vaccinated. Protecting vulnerable patients across the country from the devastating effects of COVID-19 remains a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration and CMS.

Additional Background:

Health care workers and others interested in learning more about or obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination can visit for additional information.

As a result of today’s decision, health care providers subject to the Omnibus Health Care Staff Vaccination rule in the 24 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) covered by this decision will now need to establish plans and procedures to ensure their staff are vaccinated and to have their employees receive at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Today’s decision does not affect compliance timelines for providers in the District of Columbia, the territories, and the 25 states where the preliminary injunction was previously lifted. See the guidance released on December 28, 2021, for additional information.

Increasing Female Dentists Improves Health Equity

A study conducted by the Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC) at the University of Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies found that increasing the number of female dentists in the workforce improves health equity. The study, “Evaluating the Impact of Dentists’ Personal Characteristics on Workforce Participation,” found that the percentage of active dentists who are women is increasing with the mean age of female dentists as significantly lower than that of male dentists. Female dentists were also more likely to be racially/ethnically diverse compared to male dentists.

Click here to view the report.

USDA Launches Pilot Program to Deploy Renewable Energy Infrastructure to People in Rural Towns

Funding Will Help People in Particularly Underserved Rural Communities Cut Energy Costs, Increase Energy Resiliency and Address Climate Change

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department is making up to $10 million available to help people living in rural towns develop community renewable energy projects that will help them cut their energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. These funds will be targeted to help people who live in communities that have been historically underinvested and disinvested.

USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program to help the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before. Through this program, USDA is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making environmental justice a part of every agency’s mission to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is providing grant assistance for people who live in particularly underserved rural towns to help them cut their household energy costs and address climate change at the local level,” Vilsack said. “As we continue to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, USDA is targeting resources and investments to help meet our nation’s energy needs and combat climate change. The new program we’re announcing today will pilot the viability of community-scale renewable energy investments to mitigate the energy-burdened circumstances of particularly disadvantaged rural communities. This assistance will help to keep people in their hometowns by supporting good-paying jobs, business opportunities, and a more affordable cost of living.”


USDA will make up to $10 million in grants available to particularly underserved rural communities. The funds can be used to deploy community-scale renewable energy technologies and innovations to reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. These technologies include solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydroelectric and biomass/bioenergy. Up to 20% of awarded funds may also be used for community energy planning, capacity building, technical assistance, energy efficiency and weatherization.

USDA is offering priority points to projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects seeking to address these critical challenges in rural America.
Details on an upcoming informational webinar is forthcoming and will be posted to the Rural Energy Pilot Program webpage.

Prospective applicants must inform the Agency by submitting a required Letter of Intent prior to submission of a complete application. The letters must be submitted via electronic upload into a secure cloud vault, by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 19, 2022.

Application guides and submission information are available on the program website, under the To Apply tab,

For additional information, see page 2747 of the Jan. 19 Federal Register.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Behavioral Health Care Support

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), announced the availability of $13 million in funding to increase access to quality behavioral health care services in rural America through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program–Behavioral Health Care Support (RCORP-BHS).  RCORP-BHS is a part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative administered by HRSA that has provided over $400 million in direct grants and technical assistance to rural communities addressing behavioral health care challenges, including substance use disorder since 2018.


All domestic public and private entities, nonprofit and for-profit, are eligible to apply for RCORP-BHS, including, but not limited to, Rural Health Clinics, community- and faith-based organizations, and Federally recognized tribes and tribal organizations.


Approximately 26 award recipients will receive $500,000 each per year for a four-year period of performance.  During the course of the grant, RCORP-BHS award recipients will implement activities that are aligned with the following overarching program goals:

  • Address structural- and systems-level barriers to improve rural residents’ access to quality, integrated SUD and other behavioral health care services.
  • Improve the quality and sustainability of rural behavioral health care services through supporting rural health care providers to offer coordinated, evidence-based, trauma-informed SUD and other behavioral health care services.
  • Improve the capacity of the behavioral health care system to address rural community risk factors and social determinants of health that affect the behavioral health of rural residents.

Award recipients are required to be part of a consortium of four or more separately owned entities and all services must be provided in HRSA-designated rural areas.  Additionally, award recipients will submit a Behavioral Health Disparities Impact Statement during the period of performance that details how their project will address health disparities within their target rural service areas.

FORHP will hold a technical assistance webinar for applicants on Thursday, February 3, 2022 from 1 – 2:30 p.m. ET. A recording will be made available for those who cannot attend.  For dial-in information, view the NOFO on, click the Package tab, then Preview, and Download Instructions; technical assistance information is on page (ii). You do not need to register in advance for the webinar. Please email for a link to the recording.

Applicants can begin the RCORP-Behavioral Health Care Support application process on and apply by Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 11:59 PM, ET. Visit the Notice of Funding Opportunity for more information.