To expand access to vaccines and ensure equity in COVID-19 response in rural communities, the Health Resources and Services Administration is working with Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) across the nation to strengthen vaccine allocation and confidence, and to expand COVID-19 testing and mitigation.
RHCs are a special certification given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Over 5,000 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in 45 states make up a key part of the rural health care infrastructure and help address health equity gaps in medically underserved rural communities to improve health outcomes for rural residents.
Rural Health Clinic (RHC) COVID-19 programs
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, new programs are available to help RHCs meet community needs and improve rural health care services:
Expanding COVID-19 testing and mitigation
- Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation (RHCCTM) Program helps RHCs maintain and increase testing levels and establish and expand mitigation activities tailored to local community needs. The program builds upon HRSA’s Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing Program.
Ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines in rural areas
- Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Distribution (RHCVD) Program was launched in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under the program, enrolled CMS-certified RHCs will receive direct COVID-19 vaccines in addition to their normal jurisdictions’ weekly allocation.
Building vaccine confidence
- Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program supports outreach efforts to increase vaccinations in rural communities. Nearly 2,000 RHCs are using these resources to promote vaccine confidence and work to get more people vaccinated and protected from COVID-19 in medically underserved rural communities.
Expanding access to COVID-19 testing supplies
- Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing Supply (RHCCTS) Program provides free COVID-19 testing supplies to CMS-certified RHCs. RHCs choosing to participate receive direct shipments of COVID-19 testing supplies to distribute in their communities. Supplies available through this program include: at-home self-test kits, point of care testing supplies (POC) and other COVID-19 specific supplies, as available.
Expanding access to COVID-19 antiviral treatment
- Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Therapeutics (RHCTH) Program provides access to COVID-19 oral antiviral medications (i.e., therapeutics) to eligible CMS-certified RHCs. The Program supplements state and jurisdictional allocations of COVID-19 antiviral medications to ensure equitable access. Distribution sites are subject to state scope of practice guidelines.
- Rural Health Clinic (RHC) COVID-19 Programs (PDF - 170 KB)
- Expanding COVID-19 Response in Rural Communities through Rural Health Clinics Fact Sheet | October 2022 (PDF - 176 KB)
- RHIhub - Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)
- Rural Health Clinics and Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Rural Health Areas (Map) (PDF - 700 KB) (PDF - 1.7 MB)
- Medicare Learning Network - Rural Health Clinic Fact Sheet (PDF) (PDF - 805 KB)
- National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC)
- Testing Supply Technical Assistance and Enrollment Resources
- Therapeutics Technical Assistance and Enrollment Resources
For additional questions related The RHC COVID-19 Testing or Testing and Mitigation Program:
The RHC COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program:
The RHC Vaccine Confidence Program:
The RHC COVID-19 Testing Supply Program:
The RHC COVID-19 Therapeutics Program:
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