Federal Flex Updates: March 2016

March 2016

Dear Flex Coordinators,

Hope this update finds you well in the midst of change both seasonally and with Flex. While Mother Nature often keeps us on our toes in the spring, at the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) we’ve worked hard to ensure you feel grounded and prepared during the current Flex Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) season (March 15th - May 16th). The NCC provides your program the opportunity to reflect, assess, refine and report on the progress your Flex program has made and will make moving ahead.

FORHP and our technical assistance partners have worked diligently to provide you with updated tools and resources as you begin gauging the progress being made by your Flex Program. We have released information about the NCC in conjunction with a recorded webinar discussing the NCC process, critical access hospital (CAH) eligibility and changes to Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP). Additionally I’d encourage all programs to complete the Flex Core Competencies Self-Assessment as you begin your NCC, as this can help identify potential areas to strengthen within your own Flex program. A Core Competency Guide and Webinar are also available on the TASC website for when you decide to utilize them. Additionally, the Flex Monitoring Team has rolled out Critical Access Hospital Measurement and Performance Assessment System (CAHMPAS), which will continue to expand to provide you with additional data to inform your program. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to look at most of these items as you begin to sketch out your narrative.

As always, I remind you that FORHP Project Officers and TASC are good resources if you have questions about the NCC or would like us to review portions of it. So, please don’t hesitate to reach out and the sooner the better, as the time frame for our own review narrows the closer we get to May 16th.

Around the corner are several meetings and conferences which we hope to see many familiar faces. If you can’t attend, we hope to hear you on our Virtual Knowledge Group calls, which is another Flex specific resource. All these dates can be found on the TASC website

Lastly, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your hard work and patience as the past year has required many of you refining and adjusting your programs. The health care system, in a constant state to drive and improve quality, has pushed the Flex Program to integrate many of these same initiatives. Although challenging and at times frustrating, the fruits of your continued labor to get CAHs moving toward quality reporting is quite remarkable - YOU and your CAHs have made excellent progress but there is still work to do. Keep your eyes peeled for more important announcements in April. Until then, Happy Spring!

Grant Related:

Carry Over Requests – If you requested carryover your updated Notices of Award should be coming out between now and through early April. Contact your Grants Management Specialist if you have concerns or questions about the timing. 

Flex Non-Competing Continuation (Available 3/15; Due 5/16) – The Flex Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) for Flex is available. See TASC website for more information presented on the NCC Webinar. Please note the Non-Competing Continuation process is a far less intensive application compared to a full competing competition. It is an opportunity to describe the work done thus far, challenges, successes, and updated work plans. Again, the specifics of the required narrative elements are in the NCC Guidance for 2016.  

Quarterly Reports  - (Due: 3/30) For grantees with a quarterly reporting requirement only (check your Notice of Award) the current reporting period (months of December, January and February) will be coming to a close and submission of progress in the Electronic Handbook (EHB) will be due soon! Utilize the template provided earlier in the grant period, or ask your FORHP Project Officer if you cannot locate the template. This report will align with the Flex NCC. 

Flex Related Events:  


New Flex Staff Program Workshop April 11th - Apr 13th in Duluth, MN 

July 20th -21st Flex Reverse Site Visit in Rockville, MD

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,009,121 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.