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Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has coordinated activities related to rural health care within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for over 30 years.

Part of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), FORHP has department-wide responsibility for analyzing the possible effects of policy on the 61 million residents of rural communities and provides grant funding at the state and local levels to increase access to high quality health care.

Support at every level

FORHP 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 small rural hospitals through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant (Flex) program.

Through its community-based programs, FORHP supports innovative programs that encourage network development among rural health care providers; upgrades in emergency medical services; and places and trains the health care workforce in rural communities. FORHP also oversees the Black Lung Clinics grant program and the Veterans Health Access Program.

Rural health policy analysis and research

Since its establishment, FORHP has supported innovative efforts to address the unique environmental and institutional circumstances that contribute to the financial instability of rural hospitals, issues surrounding workforce recruitment and retention, and barriers to achieving health equity in rural areas. 

FORHP conducts regulatory impact analyses and advises the HHS Secretary on the effects of current policies and proposed statutory, regulatory, administrative, and budgetary changes in programs established under Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicare and Medicaid). 

Finally, to enhance its advisory capacity, FORHP supports a robust research program, which provides pertinent and timely information about the status of rural health and effects of policy that can help FORHP, as well as the public, understand the unique challenges in rural areas, how they impact these communities and the entire health care system.

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