HRSA eNews December 17, 2020

A Message from the HRSA Administrator

HRSA Administrator Thomas Engels

2020 has been a year like none other in our lifetimes. We have worked in a way we never could have imagined, and at a pace that has been historic, as an agency, HRSA has continued to grow and prosper.

We are front and center in the HHS COVID-19 response and recovery. All the while, we continue to deliver on our core mission; help those in need of high quality primary health care, people with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, and mothers; and support the training of health professionals and the recruitment and retention of providers where they’re needed most. And we continue to promote innovation in health care delivery.

The end result of those efforts is gratifying. We couldn’t have done it without your help and support. Thank you for your commitment and partnership with HRSA to improve access to health care for Americans who are geographically isolated and economically or medically vulnerable.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter HRSA Exit Disclaimer to see our 2020 program accomplishments. 

Happy holidays,
Tom Engels

HHS Increases and Begins Distributing Over $24 Billion in Phase 3 COVID-19 Provider Relief Funding

photo of two health care workers

December 16 - Today, the Trump Administration, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is announcing it has completed review of Phase 3 applications from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program and will distribute $24.5 billion to over 70,000 providers. Up from the $20 billion originally planned, the addition of another $4.5 billion in funding is being used to satisfy close to 90 percent of each applicant’s reported lost revenues and net change in expenses caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of 2020. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes this pandemic has upended the health care system and caused significant financial hardships. These resources, along with previous distributions, have provided much needed relief. Payment distribution started today and will continue through January, 2021.

Read the news release.

HRSA Funds Additional Rural Health Clinics to Expand COVID-19 Testing

photo of a doctor with a mask on

On December 7, HRSA disbursed $9.3 million to support COVID-19 testing at Rural Health Clinics (RHC). We used updated data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to identify 188 previously unsupported RHCs and calculate more than $49,000 per site for the December 2020 payment.

The terms and conditions for recipients (PDF - 223 KB) of this round of funding remain the same as those for RHCs previously funded in May 2020. Recently posted Frequently Asked Questions about the program provide more details. 

Clinical Leaders Forum: Using Medical Scribes to Reduce Clinician Burnout

health care worker

The Bureau of Health Workforce invites clinical leaders in tribal, rural and underserved communities to the Clinical Leaders Forum: Using Medical Scribes to Reduce Clinician Burnout, a webinar designed to open peer-to-peer discussion around the use of medical scribes in community health care settings. Join us on Friday, December 18 from 2 to 3 p.m. EST.

Register today HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

NHSC Loan Repayment Program Applicants Can Receive Award Preference

photo of a woman on her laptop

As part of its efforts to recruit highly qualified providers, HRSA’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) continues to collaborate with the Providers Clinical Support System to connect behavioral health clinicians to free medication-assisted treatment training and professional development resources. Providers can then obtain a DATA 2000 Waiver, which will increase access to evidence-based substance use disorder or opioid use disorder treatment in rural and underserved communities.

Two HRSA NHSC Loan Repayment programs – the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program (LRP) and NHSC Rural Community LRP – give award preference to program applicants who have obtained DATA 2000 waivers. These programs provide opportunities for clinicians working at NHSC-approved sites to receive up to $100,000 in loan repayment funds in exchange for three years of service. The application cycles open in early 2021.

Learn more about the NHSC-PCSS Collaboration and be ready to apply to an LRP with award preference.

Caring for Women with Opioid Use Disorder

photo of a woman comforting another woman

The HRSA Office of Women's Health is excited to announce the availability of Caring for Women with Opioid Use Disorder: A Toolkit for Organizational Leaders and Providers (PDF - 5.8 MB). Communities throughout our nation continue to be impacted by the opioid epidemic, which has been exacerbated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women are uniquely impacted by opioid use: women who use opioids progress to dependence more quickly than men, experience more cravings, and are more likely to relapse. Because opioid use disproportionately impacts those living in medically underserved areas, HRSA-supported settings are uniquely positioned to address this health crisis. 

The toolkit developed by the HRSA Office of Women's Health, with support from the HHS Office on Women's Health, provides resources and information to bolster care coordination services for women with opioid use disorder. A webinar introducing this toolkit and how to navigate it will be held on January 28. For questions or comments related to the toolkit, please contact

HRSA Hosts International Virtual Meeting with Turkish Organization Serving Vulnerable Populations

logo for the association for solidarity with asylum seekers and migrants

HRSA’s Office of Global Health and Maternal and Child Health Bureau hosted an international virtual meeting in early December with the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM). Women and girls comprise nearly 50 percent of Turkey’s 4 million refugees, who are mostly Syrian. ASAM’s work in Turkey supports vulnerable mothers and children and helps refugees access health care, psychosocial support, child protection, education, and other social services. The ASAM representatives shared their challenges, including overcoming language barriers, cultural differences, lack of education and the impact of COVID-19. HRSA experts discussed our mission and specific maternal and child health programs. The exchange allowed MCHB and OGH to provide further information about U.S. programs and establish connections for the ASAM organization to meet with other U.S. government stakeholders involved with refugee resettlement activities.

Learn more about HRSA’s maternal and child health programs.

A Wellness Guide: Staying Healthy, Fit, and Connected During the Pandemic

Chris Bersani, HRSA Region 1 Deputy Regional Administrator

Join the New England Rural Health Association and Chris Bersani, HRSA’s Region 1 Deputy Regional Administrator, for a webinar on January 7 at Noon EST to learn how rural communities can stay healthy and connected during these unprecedented times.

Register for the event HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

Respirators for Health Care during COVID-19

photo of a health care worker with a mask

In response to the #COVID19 pandemic, the Federal Healthcare Resilience Working Group has developed the Respirators for Healthcare during COVID-19: Authorized Use & Avoiding Fraudulent Products Fact Sheet (PDF - 155 KB), which provides an overview of key practices and resources to help consumers to understand approved and authorized use of respirators, to avoid purchasing fraudulent products, and to report fraud or potentially fraudulent distributors, resellers, or other suppliers.

HRSA Announces Winners in Two MCHB Grand Challenges

mchb challenges icons

This week, HRSA announced the winners of two of the four MCHB Grand Challenges, the prize competition to develop innovative, technology-based solutions to improve the health of mothers and children across the U.S. The winner of the Care Coordination for Children with Special Health Care Needs Challenge is the Caremap app, developed by Boston Children’s Hospital, Family Voices and Duke Health. The winner of the Addressing Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women and New Moms Challenge is the Mobile-Accessible Plan of Safe Care app, developed by Benten Technologies, with ChristianaCare and the Delaware Division of Family Services. Each team had already participated in two previous phases of the challenges. For this final phase, each winner received a $130,000 cash prize to finalize their innovation and ensure scalability for widespread adoption.

New HRSA Challenge Competition to Address Declining Vaccination Coverage and Well-Child Visits

HRSA and MCHB officially launched the Promoting Pediatric Primary Prevention (P4) Challenge competition this week to respond to declining rates of childhood vaccination coverage and well-child visits due to COVID-19. This challenge will award $1 million in prizes for innovative approaches to increase access to and use of well-child visits and/or immunization services within primary care settings. Partnerships with state and local organizations are encouraged, and submissions must include a primary care provider who delivers health services to children. We expect to select up to 50 Phase 1 winners and up to 20 Phase 2 winners. The submission period will open in January.

Webinar: State Approaches to Improving Health Through Housing

homeless man in an underpass

The National Academy for State Health Policy hosted a webinar where state officials from New York, Texas and Oregon discussed how they are improving health and housing for individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability. The webinar was produced through HRSA’s cooperative agreement with National Organizations of State and Local Officials.

Watch State Approaches to Improving Health through Housing HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

Report: The Future of State Telehealth Policy

photo of a mom and child on a telehealth call with a doctor

The National Governors Association released a report highlighting policy issues that states may consider when deciding which COVID-19-related telehealth flexibilities should remain permanent. The webinar was produced through HRSA’s cooperative agreement with National Organizations of State and Local Officials.

Read The Future of State Telehealth Policy HRSA Exit Disclaimer.

Date Last Reviewed:  December 2020

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