Rural Route
January, 2021
In this Issue
FORHP Updates
TASC Updates
Upcoming Events
Quick Links



Resource Library


State Flex Profiles




Rural Health Value


Hello everyone,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is having a smooth and healthy start to the new year.

We were so pleased to see so many of you at this month's Virtual Knowledge Group (VKG) webinar on Carryover and Flex Grant Management. Please note that the webinar playback and materials are all available in the Flex Program Forum (log-in required).

Be sure to check out the Upcoming Events for everything coming up in February as well as the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) Updates section for more information on recent announcements, including a brand new Critical Access Hospital (CAH) Recognition Nomination on Collaboration Through Telehealth, the extended 1:1 coaching opportunity for evaluation performance, and the upcoming Building and Sustaining Partnerships Learning Collaborative.

As always, thank you for taking some time to read Rural Route. If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to me or TASC.

Andy Naslund
Program Coordinator

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Updates   

Dear Flex Coordinators,

Happy New Year! I am grateful to be starting off another year with you all, I have a lot of hope for 2021. Please see the important key updates for the Flex program.

Here are some important deadlines for 2021:

  • January 30, 2021: Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Flex Annual Federal Financial Report (FFR)
    • Please reference the January VKG for additional information.
    • As of October 1st, 2020, there have been some changes made to the FFR submission process. Details on the change can be found here.
    • Note, you must use the FFR Remarks Section to express your intent to carryover funds. If you intend to carryover funds and do not make note in this section, you will be required to resubmit your FFR.
    • For any program that submitted a No Cost Extension for leftover H54 funds, you will have to submit 2 FFRs, one for your FY 2019 U2W award and one for the No Cost Extension H54 award.
  • March 1, 2021: Prior Approval Carryover Request
    • If you have an Unobligated Balance (UOB) for your U2W award, you have the option to carry over those funds to your current budget period, to be spent by August 31, 2021.
    • Please discuss your plan to utilize your carryover with your Project Officer.
    • You can then submit a Prior Approval - Carryover Request in Electronic Handbook (EHB). Please see this helpful video about the carryover request process. 
  • March 24, 2021: FY 2021 Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) Progress Report available
    • March 25, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. Central Time, there will be an NCC technical assistance webinar.
    • The NCC report will be due in Electronic Handbook (EHB) on May 14, 2021.
On February 18, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. CT, FORHP will host a Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) VKG to share updates regarding the quality activity in the forthcoming NCC.
In case you missed it, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a Telehealth Summit in late December. There was a ton of great information shared that may be of benefit to your programs and/or hospitals. The HHS Telehealth Website provides helpful tools to both patients and providers to assist them as they utilize telehealth technologies.  The Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) will lead the Rural Telehealth Initiative that is part of a memorandum of understanding between HHS, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
 CAH Regulatory Update
Continue reading CAH Regulatory Updates (Flex Forum login required - contact TASC for details)
TASC Updates   
CAH Request for Nomination - Collaboration Through Telehealth
Flex Program Colleagues,
Do you know of a critical access hospital (CAH) that has implemented an innovative approach to Collaboration through Telehealth to minimize barriers by connecting rural populations to needed health care in order to address clinical issues and patient needs, as well as provide support, resources, and education?
If so, please consider nominating them for Critical Access Hospital Recognition, an initiative of the TASC and FORHP. Please submit your CAH Recognition nominations here by Wednesday, February 10, 2021.
The purpose of the Critical Access Hospital Recognition initiative is to capture best practices and recognize the innovative work being done in CAHs across the country. It is also an opportunity for state Flex Coordinators to highlight the support state Flex Programs are providing to CAHs.
Based on the scoring criteria listed below, chosen CAHs will each receive a Certificate of Recognition. They will also be profiled in this newsletter and in the TASC website. The Center will also promote chosen CAHs via our social media platforms. Please visit TASC's website to see past CAH Recognition Awardee Spotlights. A press release template will be sent to the selected CAHs to assist them in promoting their recognition to communities in their service area.
Building and Sustaining Partnerships Learning Collaborative
Based on feedback from state Flex Programs, FORHP and TASC recognize that there is a need for education focused on Building and Sustaining Partnerships, one of the nine Core Competencies for State Flex Program Excellence.
As a result, TASC will be hosting a Building and Sustaining Partnerships Learning Collaborative. This learning collaborative series will feature in-depth discussions and step-by-step walkthroughs focused on identifying, building, and sustaining partnerships that will be beneficial for your state Flex Program. The aim for the learning collaborative is that it will not only enhance your program's knowledge related to this core competency, but also prepare you with tools to put these principles into practice with your state partnerships.
This learning collaborative will be led by Caleb Siem, Program Specialist for TASC, and our subject matter expert Debra Laine, Senior Program Specialist at the National Rural Health Resource Center, who specializes in topics such as collaboration and community engagement, partnerships, and leadership.
By participating in the Learning Collaborative, participants will be able to:
  • Discover the needs, purposes, and factors for building different kinds of partnerships.
  • Identify and create a list potential partners.
  • Develop key messages and plans for establishing and sustaining these partnerships.
  • Complete designer partnership tools alongside state Flex Program peers.
  • Create a final action plan for making potential partnerships a reality.
Expectations to participate in the learning collaborative include:
  • Active participation in all six virtual sessions.
  • Completing homework outside of class in preparation for our group sessions.
  • Develop an action plan based on top recommendations and lessons learned throughout the learning collaborative.
  • Participate in both 3-month and 6-month Recommendation Adoption Progress (RAP) phone interviews with TASC to discuss the progress on adoption of action plan recommendations as well as identify best practices, lessons learned, measurable outcomes and next steps.
The Learning Collaborative will consist of six (6) one-hour sessions. The Learning Collaborative will begin February 24, 2021 and end March 31, 2021. Below are the scheduled meeting times, all in Central Time:
  • Wednesday, February 24 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 3 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 11 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 17 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 24 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 31 -- 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Meetings will be held virtually and active participation in the virtual discussions is expected of all participants as these will not be presentation-centered meetings. If you know that you will miss more than two of the above dates, we ask that you do not apply.
Participating Flex Coordinators/Flex staff will apply the training and education gained through the learning collaborative to develop a state Flex Program action plan to implement activities, services, and education for their state. These action plans may include supporting activities already existing in Flex Program work plans and will not have to consist of new or costly activities. There will also be three- and six-month Recommendation Adoption Progress (RAP) calls with TASC for participants to discuss their progress on their action plans.
If your state Flex Program has staff members interested in participating in this learning collaborative, please fill out the Building and Sustaining Partnerships Learning Collaborative Application by January 29, 2021.
Flex VKG Webinar Recording and 1:1 Coaching Opportunity
Thank you to everyone who participated in the November Flex VKG Webinar around the topic of Evaluation Performance Improvement. The webinar recording is available in the Flex Forum. As a part of the VKG event, we are excited to extend the opportunity to connect with subject matter expert (SME) Rochelle Schultz Spinarski on a 1:1 coaching opportunity through the month of February. This service is free of charge, supported by TASC and FORHP, and available to all state Flex Programs.
Through the accompanying self-assessment, you were able to recognize your Flex Program's strengths, challenges, and barriers with program evaluation. This 1:1 coaching opportunity is driven by you for you, while allowing space to review your program, your needs, and the opportunities available. Rochelle will help coach you through planning and prioritizing your evaluation needs, while also providing samples and tools and further data when needed. 
Please contact the TASC team,, to schedule your coaching call today!
Upcoming Events
February TASC 90
Flex Quarterly Webinar hosted by TASC -- Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central Time.
Office hours hosted by RQITA -- Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Central Time.

Webinar coordinated by TASC -- Wednesday, February 24, 2021 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Central Time. This is the first webinar in our webinar series on rural telehealth topics. Subsequent webinars in this series will include the following topics, with the dates to be determined.
  • Telehealth Policy
  • Telemedicine and Virtual Primary Care
  • Tele-Monitoring of Rural Patients
  • Tele-Behavioral Health
Please send your MBQIP questions to tasc@ruralcenter.orgTASC will ensure your question reaches the appropriate person.
Webinars, Recordings & Events
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