The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) coordinates activities related to rural health care within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), ORHP has department-wide responsibility for analyzing the possible effects of policy on residents of rural communities. Created by Section 711 of the Social Security Act, ORHP advises the Secretary on health issues within these communities, including the effects of Medicare and Medicaid on rural citizens’ access to care, the viability of rural hospitals, and the availability of physicians and other health professionals.
ORHP administers grant programs designed to build health care capacity at both the local and State levels. These grants provide funds to 50 State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) to support on-going improvements in care, and to rural hospitals through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant (Flex). Through its community-based programs, ORHP encourages network development among rural health care providers; upgrades in emergency medical services; and places and trains people in the use of automatic external defibrillators. ORHP also oversees the Black Lung Clinics grant program and the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education grant program. While these efforts are not solely focused on rural health issues, many of the populations affected reside in rural areas.
ORHP programs and staffs are organized in four divisions and a team: