August 2020

August 2020

Dear Flex Program Coordinators,

It was wonderful to see so many of you participate in our first-ever Virtual Flex Reverse Site Visit (RSV)! I want to extend a huge thank you to all of the presenters who shared such incredible information with us, and to the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC) team for transitioning so impeccably to a virtual platform. As I continue to learn more about each of your programs, I am truly impressed by your innovation and resiliency.

The FORHP Project Officer Flex Team is now fully staffed! On August 3rd we welcomed Tahleah Chappel to the Hospital State Division as a Flex Project Officer (PO). Tahleah will be leading the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Supplement Program. Here is her bio:

Tahleah comes to HRSA from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), where she held the position of Health Scientist Administrator working in the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety on the Patient Safety Organization (PSO) Team.  The PSO Team runs a national regulatory program related to improving patient safety and quality of health care. She began her career at AHRQ as a staff fellow supporting work funded by the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Trust Fund (established by the Affordable Care Act), disseminating evidence to patients and providers relating to available prevention, treatment, and care options to assist them in making informed health care decisions. Her work has been published in numerous health journals and while at AHRQ she directed the PSO annual conference. A graduate of the University of Rochester with a Master’s of Science in Leadership and Health Care Systems, Tahleah also worked as a Senior Research Coordinator for both the Johns Hopkins University and The University of Rochester. She has extensive experience related to primary healthcare, obesity, psychiatry, immunizations, maternal and child health, and patient safety.  

As I mentioned at the RSV, we have restructured the PO assignments to align with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)/State Offices of Rural Health (SORH) regions as much as possible. Please see this updated Hospital State Division PO Map to find contact information for your Flex, SORH, and Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) programs.

The Flex Program Year 2 will begin on September 1st. The Flex PO team will be conducting calls with every State Flex Program to go over the Non-Competing Continuation (NCC) Progress Report and Notice of Award (NoA). During those calls we will be emphasizing the importance of taking a critical look at your year 2 budget lines for travel and in-person meetings. In the event that these items will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking you to think of additional projects that these funds could go towards. We will also be going over the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFTA) reporting requirement, as it pertains to your Flex award. If you have been working with SHIP COVID funds, this will sound familiar to you. For those who need additional resources on FFTA, please check out the FY 2020 Coronavirus SHIP: Budget and Financial Management Technical Assistance, which covers the FFTA requirement. If you have additional questions on FFTA please reach out to me.  

Your upcoming Performance Improvement Measurement System (PIMS) Report is due on October 30th. There will be a technical assistance webinar on September 2nd where I will go over the PIMS 2018 Results and PIMS 2019 data collection. If you are unable to attend the live event, it will be recorded and put on the TASC website.

The first set of the new Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Project (MBQIP) Quality Reports will be sent to State Flex Coordinators on September 28, 2020. Specifically, they will be the Care Transitions (EDTC) Reports for Q1 2020 and Q2 2020. The first MBQIP Open Office Hours will provide an opportunity for State Flex Coordinators to discuss the new reports and provide feedback to FORHP. An invitation from FORHP for Mid-October is forthcoming! For questions, please contact the MBQIP & Quality Lead, Natalia Vargas.

As a reminder, the new Community Health Access and Rural Transformation Model (CHART) model from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) aims to change the way the federal government pays for health care in rural areas through two separate tracks. This two initiatives will inform what works in rural in terms of delivering care and measuring quality and are of interest to us for how we can align Flex to support those efforts that work. We also look forward to learning more from you (if any SORHs get involved as applicants or partners) and your hospitals as these projects get under way.  

Stay Healthy,

Tori

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.