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HRSA eNews May 21, 2020

A Message from the HRSA Administrator

HRSA Administrator Thomas Engels

Thank you for your continued effort to combat the effect COVID-19 is having on our lives, our communities, our friends and loved ones. We fully recognize the significant impact this situation is having on all of you. We are doing our best to support you and the communities affected by COVID-19.

Last month, HRSA was charged with managing the Provider Relief Fund in addressing this unprecedented public health crisis. These federal dollars will provide relief to hospitals and other healthcare providers on the front lines of the coronavirus response. Working together around the clock, HRSA made sure the Funds started flowing to providers eight days after President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In April, we launched the COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal, allowing health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured individuals with a COVID-19 diagnosis on or after February 4, 2020 to submit claims for reimbursement.

We’ve reacted quickly to our nation's call, while concurrently supporting our grantees across our 90+ programs. We need your help more than ever during this pandemic. Thank you for your help in achieving our mission – providing health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically, or medically vulnerable.

Visit our Coronavirus page to learn about our efforts to support the American people affected by COVID-19.

Tom Engels

HHS Provides $225 Million for COVID-19 Testing in Rural Communities

photo of a person getting a drive-up test for COVID-19

May 20 - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provided $225 million to Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing.  These investments will support over 4,500 RHCs across the country to support COVID-19 testing efforts and expand access to testing in rural communities. Rural Health Clinics are a special designation given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that help ensure access to care for rural residents. 

This funding is through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that President Trump signed into law on Friday, April 24, 2020 which specifically directed these monies to be allocated to RHCs. HRSA funded RHC organizations based on the number of certified clinic sites they operate, providing nearly $50,000 per clinic site. 

“Today’s funding provides rural health clinics with resources and flexibility to boost their testing capabilities to fight COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Further expanding testing capacity, including at RHCs, is a crucial element of safely reopening our country and helping Americans return to work and school. A safe reopening is vital for Americans’ health and well-being, and especially so for those living in rural areas, who may have struggled with access to healthcare long before COVID-19 and found care even harder to access during this crisis.”

Read the release.

HHS Awards $15 Million to Support Telehealth Providers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

photo of a woman on a telehealth call with a doctor

May 13 - Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $15 million to 159 organizations across five health workforce programs to increase telehealth capabilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These awards demonstrate the Trump Administration’s continued efforts and commitment to building a national telehealth infrastructure.

These awards are funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Trump signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. HRSA made awards to organizations based on their capacity to implement COVID-19 telehealth activities that train high demand professions across the health care team.

“This new funding from Congress will enable more heroic health professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to use telehealth for a broad range of care,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “President Trump has created historic opportunities to deliver care safely and effectively via telehealth during the pandemic, including through everyday tools like FaceTime and Skype, and we are committed to helping providers and patients, especially in vulnerable communities, maximize all of these new telehealth options.”

Read the release.

Health Center Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Operations, Patients, and Staff

Screen capture of a map from the HRSA Health Center COVID-19 Survey

HRSA-funded health centers play a critical role in the nation’s health care system. Last year, they served more than 28 million people.

Our health center awardees and look-alikes respond to a weekly survey about the impact of COVID-19 on health center patients, staff, and operations.

We use the information collected to help track health center capacity and to better understand training and technical assistance, funding, and other health center resource needs.

View the survey data and our new maps to see how our Health Center Program responds to the pandemic across the country.

HRSA Healthy Grants Workshops Offered Virtually

HRSA Healthy Grants Web Series

After careful consideration for the health and safety of HRSA staff and our grantees, we have postponed all in-person Healthy Grants Workshops until 2021.

To continue to provide grantees with important training and support, we will launch the Healthy Grants Web Series on June 9, 2020, in place of our in-person workshops. The eight-part Adobe Connect series will provide grantees with up to 19 presentations on their most requested topics.

The Healthy Grants Web Series will feature presentations by the Office of Federal Assistance Management, Office of Regional Operations, Office of Civil Rights, Diversity, and Inclusion, and the Office of Information Technology.

All grantees are encouraged to attend or listen to recorded sessions at their convenience.

Check out the full webinar schedule. For questions, please contact us.

HRSA Study Sets Baseline for Health Outcomes and Behaviors in the Middle Childhood Population

kids playing in the grass

A paper published in Pediatrics by researchers in HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau provides a broad new profile of health outcomes and behaviors in the middle childhood population. Middle childhood refers to ages 6 through 11. Using data from the combined 2016 and 2017 National Survey of Children’s Health, the researchers examined sociodemographic, health status, family, and neighborhood characteristics of 21,539 U.S. children in this age range.

Overall, most children were in excellent or very good physical health, and over 20 percent were considered to have special health care needs. Researchers found the prevalence of diagnosed anxiety problems increased as children got older. Also, as children age, the proportion of children obtaining the recommended amount of sleep per night decreased while the amount of reported screen time with television or devices among children increased. Finally, less than one-third of children engaged in the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity, with even fewer females participating in daily physical activity as they got older. These findings suggest opportunities for targeted interventions and public health strategies at earlier ages.

View the video and text abstracts HRSA Exit Disclaimer in Pediatrics.

Date Last Reviewed:  June 2020

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