Rural Health and Primary Care

What's New and Featured Resources


The Shortage Designation Modernization Project and Auto HPSA Update

The Shortage Designation Project is a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) initiative to modernize current shortage designation processes while maintaining transparency, accountability, and parity. The project is currently in Phase 2, which includes updates to all auto-HPSA facilities of the following types:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers
  • Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alikes
  • Tribally-Run Clinics
  • Urban Indian Organizations
  • Dual-Funded Tribal Health
  • Federally-Run Indian Health Service Clinics
  • Rural Health Clinics meeting NHSC site requirements

Facilities should have received correspondence from HRSA by email previewing the impact of the update. Please contact the Rural Health and Primary Care Program if:

  • This correspondence has not yet been received.
  • If the information needs to be updated.
  • You have questions regarding the Project.

Detailed information regarding the project can be found at the Shortage Modernization Project Website.


The Leapfrog group names its 2018 Top Rural Hospitals

“Leapfrog is proud to recognize the recipients of our most elite award for safety and quality,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We’re encouraged by the hard work of Top Hospitals, as well as all of the hospitals that compete for this award. Their transparency and determination delivers the best possible care in their communities.”

Maine's Award Recipients:

  • LincolnHealth
  • Rumford Hospital
  • Bridgton Hospital
  • Sebasticook Valley Hospital
  • Blue Hill Memorial Hospital
  • Waldo County General Hospital
  • Northern Maine Medical Center


Applications are currently being accepted for HRSA's Students to Service Loan Repayment Program

Before you start your application, carefully read the 2019 Application and Program Guidance. It has the detailed information you need to apply. Applications close on December 20th at 7:30pm.


Registration is now open for the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Plan Program

Diabetes affects more than 25 percent of Americans aged 65 or older and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is about 17 percent more prevalent in rural areas. The Medicare Diabetes Prevention Plan (MDPP) Expanded Model is lifestyle change curriculum approved by the CDC that teaches beneficiaries how to manage their diabetes. This hour-long webinar, to be held on December 12th at 11:00am, will provide a tutorial on how to enroll Medicare beneficiaries into the program.

J-1 Visa Waiver Program

Also known as the Conrad State 30 Program, the J-1 Visa Waiver Program helps address shortages of qualified doctors in rural areas. In exchange for a waiver of certain visa restrictions, including the two-year foreign residency requirement, international medical graduates agree to complete their medical training in the United States and practice primary care for at least three years at an eligible site.

Applications are currently being accepted. 10 of 10 flex slots are filled. 1 designated slot is available as of December 6, 2018.

Related resources:


New Data on Suicide Mortality and Drug Overdose Deaths

Using data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report on rates of suicide in the United States from 1999 to 2017. The data brief ranks suicide as the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34 and the fourth leading cause for ages 35-54. For the most recent year studied, the age-adjusted suicide rate for the most rural counties was nearly twice (1.8 times) the rate for the most urban counties.

In a separate data brief from the CDC, the NVSS showed there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017. Maine was one of 20 states having a drug overdose death rate higher than the national rate (21.7 per 100,000).

Other announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of December 6, 2018 (PDF)


Funding Opportunity: Assistance for Vulnerable Rural Hospitals

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health Technical Advisory Center is a HRSA/FORHP-funded initiative with the goal of understanding economic challenges, community health needs and resources, and finding ways rural hospitals and communities can keep needed care locally. Application is required to become one of the hospitals receiving this assistance, with a new cohort selected each year. In each application cycle, five hospitals will be selected for on-site technical assistance and twenty-five hospitals will be selected for remotely facilitated technical assistance.

Other announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of November 21, 2018 (PDF)

Happy National Rural Health Day 2018!


We're Moving!

Please be advised that, as of October 26, 2018, the Rural Health and Primary Care Program will be relocated to 286 Water Street, 5th floor. Our phone numbers, email addresses and website address will remain the same.


Free Educational Opportunity: 3RNet's 2018 Academy

As National Health Service Corps slots and State Loan Repayment Programs become more competitive, it is more important than ever to keep providers that we have already incentivized to come to the state.

3RNet is hosting an online academy, Retention Strategies: Saving Money and Fostering Quality through Workforce Engagement. The 2018 Academy will examine retention strategies that save money and encourage quality care by engaging your current workforce.

The Maine Rural Health and Primary Care Program is offering this educational opportunity to all Maine facilities at no cost. We encourage everyone to participate.


Rural Focused Virtual Job Fair

HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce will host a Rural Focused Virtual Job Fair a free, interactive event on Wednesday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m. to allow primary care providers a chance to talk about their NHSC- or NURSE Corps-approved site, the community they serve and currently available positions in rural areas. Registration closes on Wednesday November 7th.

Other announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of August 30, 2018 (PDF)


Evidence-based Toolkits for Rural Community Health

These step-by-step guideson subjects including care coordination, health promotion and community health workers, provide resources and examples drawn from evidence-based and promising programs for rural communities. The toolkits glean information from HRSA/FORHP-funded grant programs to showcase what works and why and are made available by NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis and the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center in collaboration with the Rural Health Information Hub.

Other announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy: Week of June 28, 2018 (PDF)

Certification Program for Primary Care Tax Credit

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the tax credit certification to eligible primary care professionals for tax year 2017. Certificates were awarded in accordance with 10-144 Chapter 298 – Rules Governing the Certification Program for Primary Care Tax Credit (effective date: May 19, 2016).

This serves as notice to unsuccessful applicants. No other notice will be sent. Unsuccessful applicants may reapply in a subsequent tax year.

The time limited submission period for tax year 2018 is between the dates of January 15, 2019 and February 15, 2019. Only applications postmarked during this time-limited submission period will be considered by the department for the applicable tax year. Applications will be made available on this website no later than Tuesday, January 9, 2019.


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.