HRSA modifies ‘rural’ definition for grant eligibility

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy today finalized its proposal to add additional counties to the list of geographic areas considered rural and therefore eligible for rural health grants.

Effective for new grants awarded in fiscal year 2022, the change expands the list of eligible areas to include outlying Metropolitan Statistical Area counties with no urbanized area population.

As of March 2020, 295 counties met the criteria for outlying MSA counties with no urbanized area population, the agency said.

In comments on the proposal, AHA urged that the definition be as inclusive and flexible as possible, noting that the rural definition directly affects providers’ eligibility for many financial and programmatic opportunities, including numerous HRSA grants, some rural-focused Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation demonstration models, and certain targeted distributions of COVID-19 Provider Relief Funds.