Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New Rural Advocacy Guide Released

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has created a comprehensive guide for rural community leaders to amplify their voices when advocating for rural. How to advocate for rural health change gives constituents the opportunity to effectively champion rural health issues by providing necessary information and tools. This resource provides details on branches of government, congressional committees, NRHA tools, and practical tips for how to get involved in advocacy efforts. Additionally, our advocacy guide includes sample letters and media advisories to accommodate your communication efforts with Congressional leaders. We hope that this document serves as an asset to your knowledge when advocating for the improvement of issues facing rural communities.

If you have any questions or would like more information or assistance, please contact NRHA’s government affairs team.

Provider Relief Fund – Phase 4 Payments

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is making more than $2 billion in Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to more than 7,600 providers across the country this week. With this funding, more than $18 billion will have been distributed from the Provider Relief Fund and the American Rescue Plan Rural provider funding in the last three months.

These payments come on the heels of the nearly $9 billion in funding that was already released by HHS in December 2021. With today’s announcement, a total of nearly $11 billion in PRF Phase 4 payments has now been distributed to more than 74,000 providers in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and five territories and approximately 82 percent of all Phase 4 applications have now been processed.

Learn More:

Repeal or Retool? States Assess Certificate of Need Laws

Certificate of Need (CON) laws are state regulatory mechanisms for approving major capital expenditures and projects for certain health care facilities. In a state with a CON program, a state health planning agency or other entity must review and approve projects like establishing a new health care facility or expanding a facility’s health service capacity in a specified area. CON programs primarily aim to control health care costs by restricting duplicative services and determining whether new capital expenditures meet a community need.

Click here for more information and to access an interactive map of all 50 states.

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 vaccines.gov.

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: https://bhw.hrsa.gov/funding/health-workforce-resiliency-awards.

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 Grants.gov.

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.

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