Rural Health and Primary Care

Where we've been, where we are and where we are going...


What's New and Featured Resources


Check out the Updates: Dental Clinics and Services for Maine Residents and Maine's School Oral Health Program Handbook and check out the Oral Health Program Poster Contest winners!
MPBHP

Register Now for MPBHP's 2021 Learning Series

The Maine Pediatric & Behavioral Health Partnership is pleased to release their learning series calendar for 2021. View the calendar and register now.


Broadband

Coming Soon: The FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms. It will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

The program has been authorized by the FCC, but the start date has not yet been established. In the meantime, stakeholders may:

Other announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy


HRSA

Apply now for NHSC Programs

The NHSC application portal is open now through May 6th. Additional funds have been made available and eligible applicants, not already participating in other workforce programs, are encouraged to apply even if you have not been eligible in the past. Please review the guidance carefully, compare the programs and then choose the program that best matches your eligibility.

Need assistance?


HRSA

Applying for the National Health Service Corps Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program or the Rural Community Loan Repayment Program? Get Your DATA 2000 Waiver

One of the tools to combat the opioid crisis is increasing the number of clinicians who are eligible to provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides free MAT training and resources, via the Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS)1, for eligible clinicians. After completing MAT training, eligible clinicians can request DATA 2000 waivers to treat opioid dependency with approved buprenorphine products.

Applicants for the NHSC SUD Loan Repayment Program or the Rural Community Loan Repayment Program may receive priority if they have DATA 2000 waivers.


HRSA

The NHSC Scholarship Program Is Also Open

Students pursuing a career in primary health care are eligible to receive funding for their education in exchange for practicing in rural, urban, and tribal communities with limited access to care, upon graduation and licensure.The portal is open now through May 11th.


RHPCP

Submit Your Applications Now

The Rural Medical Access Program (RMAP) is jointly administered by the Maine Rural Health and Primary Care Program and the Bureau of Insurance. RMAP promotes obstetrical and prenatal care in medically underserved areas through reimbursement of insurance premiums for eligible obstetricians and family or general practice physicians. To be eligible, physicians must have:

  • Performed Deliveries and/or provided prenatal care in Maine between the dates of July 1 and December 31, 2020.
  • Carried malpractice insurance for prenatal care and/or obstetrical services; and
  • Maintained a caseload of MaineCare patients (10% at minimum) and practiced at least 50% of the time in a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area or Population (https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/hpsa-find) or maintained a caseload of MaineCare patients (50% visits minimum) and practiced in a Primary Care Analysis Area having a population of under 20,000 people.

For more information and to apply:


FORHP

Attend a Virtual Job Fair

NHSC and Nurse Corps approved sites are encouraged to register now for the March 24th Virtual Job Fair. Each health care site is given about 15 minutes to present inside a “virtual breakout room" to talk about available positions, their site, and the communities they serve.

Health care job seekers may register here


DHHS

Sentinel Events Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletters prepared by the Sentinel Events Team of the Division of Licensing and Certification. The National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety, preventing medication errors and preventing falls are some of the topics covered.


FORHP

Funding Opportunity: Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will offer the funding as health literacy grants to localities, who will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural and other vulnerable populations. OMH will be accepting applications for this new initiative through April 20, 2021.


2021 National Update

Health Professional Shortage Areas are regions and certain facilities that are deemed eligible for programming and placement of National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps providers by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Scoring criteria is determined per legislation established by the United States Congress and per rules established by HRSA.

The Shortage Designation Branch of HRSA has announced the tentative timeline for the 2021 National Update. Updates will be made to data, providers and designations. Much of this work has already started and will continue throughout the year. Please note designation scores will not be finalized until the update occurs, tentatively scheduled for September, 2021. Any designations proposed for withdrawal at that time will not be withdrawn until 2022 when published in the Federal Register.

What can you do?

  • Keep informed. There is an informational webinar for auto-HPSA points of contact scheduled for March 4th and March 9th. You must register in advance.
  • All RHCs should certify with National Health Service Corps. RHCs already certified with National Health Service Corps should recertify when appropriate (3 year cycle). In some regions, it may be very important to obtain or retain auto-HPSA status.
  • Send your provider updates to our office. Information is needed only for the following types of providers: Dentists and MDs or DOs in the following specialties: general practice, family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, ob/gyn and psychiatry. Please include the provider's name, location, average number of hours serving patients per week, percentage of MaineCare patients served and percentage of sliding fee patients served.
  • If you have concerns or questions, contact our office at merica.a.tripp@maine.gov for customized guidance. Our preliminary analysis has shown that the update will affect all auto-HPSAs and regions differently and in a variety of ways.

Certification Program for Primary Care and Dental Tax Credits

The Primary Care Dental Tax Credit Programs have been closed for the 2020 tax year.


HRSA

Is your health care facility NHSC eligible?

The application period for NHSC facility certification will be opening soon. We encourage you to review the latest program guidance and start preparing your documentation now for review. Be sure that you have:

  • Up-to-date signage
  • A conforming discriminatory statement
  • A sliding fee scale that meets all NHSC requirements
  • Six months data for Data Tables

Contact RHPCP staff with questions: merica.a.tripp@maine.gov


HRSA

Apply now: The 2021 Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program is Open and the Deadline has been Extended

Nurse Corps is accepting applications now through March 18th. Please review the Application and Program Guidance carefully.

Need assistance?

  • Recorded Webinar
  • Technical Assistance Call February 18 at 2:00pm 1-888-455-2923 Passcode: 5816641
  • Contact RHPCP staff: merica.a.tripp@maine.gov

RHPCP Staffing Update

We are pleased to announce that Erica Dyer has joined the Rural Health and Primary Care Program. Erica started November 30th and comes to us from Maine General Medical Center. She has over 10 years of customer service experience and a solid understanding of the dynamics of a family medicine practice.

You may reach her by phone, 207-287-5524 or by email, erica.dyer@maine.gov

Thank you very much for your patience during this transition and for your help in welcoming Erica to the rural health team.


NRHD

You Can Still Commemorate National Rural Health Day

Although the day has come and gone, the spirit of National Rural Health Day stays with us all year long. There is still time read inspiring stories compiled by the National Association of State Office of Rural Health (NOSORH) in the 2020 Book of Community Stars. Be sure to check back often for more educational opportunities, links to funding opportunties and ways to connect with the rural health community.


NRHD

Start Planning Now for National Rural Health Day 2021

National Rural Health Day is set to occur next year on November 18, 2021. Start planning how you can commemorate the day now.

Please make every effort to share your activities and/or consider making your facility a supporter of National Rural Health Day by completing our online form


J-1 Waiver Program

Please be advised that Maine's J-1 Waiver spots are filled for 2020. The next application period will begin on October 1, 2021.

Thank you to all the providers for your interest in living and working in Maine! We hope that you will find your employment enjoyable and fulfilling and will stay much longer than your three year commitment.


Guide to the J-1 Waiver Process

Applications for J-1 Waivers will be accepted starting October 1, 2020. We hope that you find our new guide to the process helpful as you are preparing your applications.


OSHA Guidelines

OSHA has developed guidance to help prevent worker exposure to SARS-CoV-2.


warmline

FrontLine WarmLine

A joint effort of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Department of Public Safety's Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians, The Opportunity Alliance, Maine Psychological Association, and the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the FrontLine Warmline serves health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses and counselors, as well as emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement, and others who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine.

The FrontLine WarmLine is available to clinicians and first responders from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week by calling (207) 221-8196 or 866-367-4440.


Federal Office

CMS Issues COVID-19 Guidance for RHCs and FQHCs

On April 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published guidance for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Congress and CMS made several changes to the RHC and FQHC requirements and payments. These changes include new payment for telehealth services, expansion of virtual communication services, and revision of the home health agency shortage requirement for visiting nursing services, among others. The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) recently hosted a webinar sponsored by FORHP to explain updates to RHC stakeholders.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of April 23, 2020 (PDF)


Public Health Emergency Preparedness would like to invite you to join Maine Responds and the Maine Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) today!

What does Maine Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) do? – Our volunteer programs reinforce our state’s public health infrastructure and support low-stress/no-fault exercise environments that test critical response capabilities. When MRC members are not responding to an emergency or disaster – the vast majority of the time – your focus will be on public health and emergency preparedness. The manner in which this work occurs varies by unit and is driven by each unit’s and each volunteer’s individual interests.


Strategies for Disseminating and Implementing COVID‐19 Public Health Prevention Practices in Rural Areas

A piece by Beth Prusaczyk, PhD from the Dept. of Medicine Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO to assist community stakeholders and/or those working with community stakeholders.


Federal Office

Factsheet: Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

This fact sheet from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) identifies the signs of stress and provides a set of practical tips and actions for relieving it during a crisis.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy:Week of April 2, 2020 (PDF)


Recommended Resources and Helpful Links

Use the following resources to obtain information and monitor the COVID-19 efforts.


Federal Office

SAMHSA Resources

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a list of help lines, websites, and virtual meeting options to support substance use treatment, as well as resources and information for mental health response to COVID-19. Be well and take care.

Other announcements from the Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of March 26, 2020 (PDF)


HRSA

COVID-19 Announcement for Current NHSC Participants

The NHSC has mechanisms in place to ensure that, in the event of an emergency or disaster, participants are able to remain in compliance with their service obligation. Participants whose circumstances change – for example, they are required to be away from their approved service site more than the allotted seven weeks per service year; they become unemployed as a direct result of the outbreak; or they are directed by their employer to provide care outside of the NHSC-approved site – should contact a program analyst immediately via the Customer Service Portal for assistance.


HRSA

COVID-19 Announcement for Nurse Corps Participants

The Nurse Corps has mechanisms in place to ensure that, in the event of an emergency or disaster, participants are able to remain in compliance with their service obligation. Participants whose circumstances change – for example, they are required to be away from their approved service site more than the allotted seven weeks per service year; they become unemployed as a direct result of the outbreak; or they are directed by their employer to provide care outside of a Nurse Corps-approved health care facility – should contact a program analyst immediately via the BHW Customer Service Portal for assistance.


HRSA

Attention Health Centers: Emergency Preparedness and Recovery Resources for Health Centers

Access information and resources compiled by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).


Share the Facts

Here are some COVID-19 posters and social media templates to use and/or share.


OSHA

Report: Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

This report contains recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. The recommendations are advisory in nature, informational in content, and are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.


3rnet

Are you an employer in a rural area looking for a health care provider? Are you a health care professional looking for an opportunity in Maine?

3Rnetis a national network that matches health care professionals with employers in rural areas. Register today! It is a free resource for both health care professionals and health care facilities located in rural Maine.


Promoting access to quality health care for Mainers living in rural and underserved areas.

Our Priorities

  • Increase resources and reduce costs for health care statewide with a focus on rural areas;
  • Facilitate communication among stakeholders on rural health issues;
  • Increase access to primary, mental and dental health care services for underserved populations;
  • Reduce geographic, financial, transportation and other barriers that prevent access to health care services.

DHHS News