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!

J-1 WaiverEnrollment Opens October 1st

Some things we thought you might like to know

  • The online form will open at 9:00 AM on 10/1/2021. You will not have access to it beforehand.
  • Only one J-1 Conrad 30 Physician can be put on one form. Concurrent applicants will need a separate form.
  • If, on 10/1/2021, there are problems with the form either contact Erica at 207-287-5562
  • The link to the form is:

Thank you everyone for your cooperation.


Introducing NRHA's Vaccine Confidence Toolkit

In partnership with Legato Healthcare Marketing, NRHA has developed a collection of rural-specific vaccine education materials. These materials are targeted to hospitals, business/community partners and the community as a whole and feature rural-specific messaging, based on current research, focus on "caring for our community" and getting the real facts to promote confidence in the vaccine. They are customizable to allow for localized messaging and branding by hospitals and community partners.

The tools are available at NRHA's website. If you need assistance you may contact NRHA's communication team or at Rural Health and Primary Care.


Free Educational Opportunity: 3RNet's Annual Recruitment and Retention Academy

Starting October 5th and continuing every other Tuesday until December 14th, 3RNET will be presenting their 2021 Recruitment and Retention Academy called Retention Strategies: Saving Money and Fostering Quality through Workforce Engagement. View our brochurefor more information.


NHSC Site Recertification Cycle Now Open

NHSC approved sites must recertify every three years. If this is your year to recertify, gather your documents and recertify your NHSC site by September 28, 2021.



The NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program

NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program Applications are being accepted now through November 4, 2021.



Emergency Rural Health Care and Nutritional Assistance Grant

Grant funds are now availabe to support health care and nutritional assistance. y Public bodies, community-based nonprofits and Federally-recognized Tribes in areas with less than 20,000 residents are encouraged to apply.

  • Track One: Recovery Grants provide immediate relief to address the economic conditions arising from the COVID-19 emergency
  • Track Two: Impact Grants advance ideas and solutions to solve regional rural health care problems to support the long-term sustainability of rural health

Visit USDA's website for additional details.


American Rescue Plan Rural Funding and Provider Relief Fund: Phase 4

PRF Phase 4 payments will be based on providers' lost revenues and expenditures between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. will reimburse smaller providers—who tend to operate on thin margins and often serve vulnerable or isolated communities—for their lost revenues and COVID-19 expenses at a higher rate compared to larger providers. PRF Phase 4 will also include bonus payments for providers who serve Medicaid, CHIP, and/or Medicare patients to ensure equity for those serving low-income children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and seniors.

HRSA will make ARP rural payments to providers based on the amount of Medicaid, CHIP and/or Medicare services they provide to patients who live in rural areas

Applications will be accepted staring September 29, 2021. To prepare, start gathering supporting documentation, such as most recent tax documents and financial statements for the second half of calendar year (CY) 2020 and the first quarter of CY 2021 and visit HRSA's website for additional details.


State Loan Repayment Program - Enrollment has Closed

The State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) is funded by the Health Resources Services Administration and administered by the Rural Health and Primary Care Program. It is designed to attract health professionals to facilities in rural and underserved areas. This is an opportunity for facilities located in Health Professional Shortage Areas with health care providers that meet certain eligibility requirements to participate. The program is open for health care providers who have outstanding loans and are willing to commit a minimum of two years to your site. This is an opportunity for you to recruit or retain a vital employee to your staff.

Important Points:

  • The site MUST be in a Health Professional Shortage Area specific to the health profession.
  • In Maine the Provider MUST be a MD, DO, NP or PA, with outstanding student loans, to apply.
  • The site must complete a letter of support showing their financial contribution to the applicant. A site can commit up to $25,000 in matching funds per provider for this program year (9/1/2021-8/31/2022). Remember $1 Federal to $1 State funds and your site is considered to be the “State” portion. The site must contribute 50% of the total amount for a two year full-time commitment.
  • The provider must have outstanding student loans that are related to their medical profession and be willing to commit to the site for two years full-time or 4 years of half-time.
  • The funds can only be used toward outstanding student loan debts. It is important to note that once the provider receives the award, a lump sum payment is to be made directly to the lender. Documentation in the form of a cancelled check or loan statement showing the lump sum payment is required by the Rural Health and Primary Care Program.
  • Any health care provider who has another service obligation, such as National Health Service Corps, is not eligible for SLRP. If the provider recently applied for an NHSC or STAR Program, they must agree to decline the NHSC or STAR award in order to accept the SLRP award.

Thank you everyone for your interest.


J-1 Waiver Guide for 2021

The J-1 Waiver Guide is available for 2021. Please make sure you review the guide carefully to prepare for the various changes to the Program. If you have any questions or need assistance (such as using HPSA find, or ideas for community support) do not hesitate to contact the office.


Thank you!

The Rural Health and Primary Care Program wishes to thank Robert Aronson and Matthew Webster of Fredrickson & Byron of Minneapolis, Minnesota for sharing their expertise with our health care leaders and human resource professionals regarding the recruitment and retention of international medical graduates. We hope all that attended found the workshop informative and valuable. Watch for additional recruitment and retention workshops coming later this year...


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.

Also view on demand:

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 #1: View a recording of the informational webinar for auto-HPSA points of contact .
  • Keep informed #2: The update previews are out. Review your potential scores in the portal. Contact RHPCP if you have questions or wish to discuss the potential benefits or pitfalls of requesting scores early.
  • All RHCs should certify with National Health Service Corps. HRSA is accepting site applications now until May 25th. 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.
  • There is still time to 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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

OSHA Guidelines

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


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.