As information in healthcare continues to evolve, Well-Ahead Louisiana works to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date changes in policy guidance, healthcare, notices and deadlines.

Quick Links

State and Federal COVID-19 Information and Resources

These are links to state and federal information and resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check these resources regularly as they are updated frequently as new information is made available. 

Louisiana Information and Resources

Connect patients to their nearest vaccination site.

National Information and Resources

Rural COVID-19 Support Webinar

Review four COVID-19 support programs currently available to rural providers:

  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation
  • Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation (RHCCTM) Program
  • Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution (RHCVD) Program
  • Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program

Guidance and Updates

COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Dose Interval Shortened Update
Updated: January 10, 2022
On January 8, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) announced that, effective immediately, the six-month interval between completing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine series and receiving a booster dose has been shortened to five months. The COVID-19 vaccine booster interval was shortened for the PfizerBioNTech vaccine to five months.

Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program Resource Distribution
Updated: January 10, 2022
The Department of Health and Human Services announced that all Medicare-certified Rural Health Clinics are invited to order free, FDA-approved COVID-19 self-testing supplies for distribution in their communities through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) COVID-19 Testing Supply Program. Apply here. For questions, email
For more information on the COVID-19 Testing Supply Program, visit HRSA’s website.

Medicaid Reimbursement for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Reimbursement
Updated: November 30, 2021
Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can now receive reimbursement for COVID-19 vaccine administration outside of full medical encounter for dates of service on and after December 23, 2020, and throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. The relevant procedure codes for vaccine and vaccine administration are listed on the COVID-19 Vaccine/Treatment Fee Schedule which will be updated as new information becomes available.
Administration of COVID-19 vaccines as part of an otherwise billable FQHC/RHC encounter will be reimbursed as a part of the all-inclusive encounter rate and no separate reimbursement will be made. See Informational Bulletin 21-27 for more information.

The Delta Region Community Health Systems Development (DRCHSD) Program Technical Assistance
No deadline to apply
The DRCHSD assists leaders and providers in identifying and addressing health care needs while strengthening the local health care system. Selected health care organizations, and their communities receive technical assistance to make in-depth health system enhancements over multiple years. Eligible applicants include small rural hospitals (critical access hospitals and prospective payment system acute care facilities up to approximately 100 beds), rural health clinics, and other healthcare organizations.
Apply here:

  • Learn More

    Informational Video:

    Support Provided: Ten new programs are selected each year to participate in the project.

    Program Duration: 3 years

    Program Goals:

    • Improve financial position and increase operational efficiencies
    • Implement quality improvements that support an evidenced-based culture for improved health outcomes
    • Address workforce recruitment and retention needs
    • Increase use of telemedicine to fill service gaps and access to care
    • Ensure access to and availability of Emergency Medical Services
    • Integrate social services to address socio-economic challenges
    • Enhance coordination of care and develop a community care coordination plan
    • Strengthen the local health care delivery system to position for population health

    For more information, contact Bethany Adams at 859-806-2940 or

Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing Supply Distribution Program Resource Distribution
Updated: June 10, 2021
No deadline to apply
The Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Distribution (RHCVD) Program, through a partnership between HRSA and the CDC, distributes COVID-19 vaccines directly to RHCs to increase the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in rural communities. This program is currently ongoing.

Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program (RHCCTM) Funding Distribution
Updated: June 10, 2021
Applications not required
The Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation (RHCCTM) Program distributes to each eligible CMS-certified RHC a “flat” one-time payment of up to $100,000 designed to increase testing and expand mitigation based on community need.

National Association of Rural Health Clinics Mid-Build RHC Survey Survey
Updated: June 10, 2021
The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) is asking RHCs that were mid-build as of December 31, 2020 to complete this survey. This information will assist NARHC in their work with Congress on legislation that would allow mid-build or mid-construction RHCs to qualify for grandfathering status for the purposes of RHC Medicare upper payment limits. 

  • Learn More

    Complete the survey if you are associated with an RHC that meets the following qualifications:

    • Had a binding written agreement with an outside unrelated party for the construction or establishment of a Provider-Based Rural Health Clinic by December 31, 2020; and
    • Did not have an 855a or PECOS application submitted to CMS by December 31, 2020

Guidance and Updates Archive

Rural Healthy People 2030: Challenges and Opportunities for the New Decade Survey
The National Association of Rural Health Clinics is requesting your input. Rural health clinics (RHCs) have an unprecedented opportunity to help influence the future direction of health policy in this country via the Rural Healthy People 2030 initiative.

  • Learn More

    The RHC community has been invited to work with researchers at the Southwest Rural Health Research Center to ensure that the voices of the rural health community are included in this information gathering process.

    The responses you and others provide will be incorporated into a report that will be shared with policy makers as they seek to identify the rural health agenda for the next 10 years. The survey should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

    We encourage you to share this link with your patients or others you may know who have an opinion about rural health care. If you have any questions about this study, please feel free to reach out to Timothy Callaghan from the Southwest Rural Health Research Center at

  • COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Health Care Workers (Deadline Closed)

    COVID-19 Vaccination Required for Health Care Workers Update

    Deadline: January 4, 2022

    Effective November 5, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Emergency Regulation Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers by January 4, 2022. This rule applies to providers who participate in and are certified by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, including, but not limited to, Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

    The rule requires that health care providers establish a process or policy to fulfill the staff vaccination requirements over two phases.

    • Phase 1: Within 30 days after the regulation is published (December 5, 2021), staff at all health care facilities included within the regulation must have received, at a minimum, the first dose of a primary series or a single dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to staff providing any care, treatment, or other services for the facility and/or its patients.
    • Phase 2: Within 60 days (January 4, 2022), staff must complete the primary vaccination series (except for those who have been granted exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine or those staff for whom COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed, as recommended by CDC).

    CMS believes that exemptions could be appropriate in certain limited circumstances, but no exemption should be provided to any staff for whom it is not legally required (under the ADA or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) or who requests an exemption solely to evade vaccination.

    Facilities are required to allow for exemptions to staff with recognized medical conditions for which vaccines are contraindicated or religious beliefs, observances, or practices (See the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Request for Religious Exemption Template or Request for Medical Exemption Template). CMS encourages facilities to review the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination for more information on religious exemptions. At this time, CMS is not allowing for daily or weekly testing of unvaccinated individuals as an alternative to vaccination.  

    CMS will ensure compliance with these requirements through the survey processes conducted by state survey agencies and accrediting organizations. Facilities that fail to comply with requirements will be cited by the surveyor as non-compliant and will be required to submit an action plan to return to compliance in accordance with the established survey and enforcement processes.

    For more information, please review the CMS Frequently Asked Questions. Additional questions can be sent to Nicole Coarsey, State Office of Rural Health Manager, at

    The comment period for the Interim Final Rule is open through January 4, 2022.

    Sample COVID-19 Vaccination Policy and Procedures

    The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) developed a template for Rural Health Clinics to use to develop Policy and Procedure in response to the Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Omnibus COVID–19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule (November 5, 2021). This should be incorporated into your existing policies and procedure per the Staffing and Staff Responsibilities section at 42 CFR 491.8(d) utilizing their existing numerical system.

    For questions, contact Nathan Baugh, NARHC Director of Government Affairs at or Sarah Hohman, NARHC Deputy Director of Government Affairs at

    Vaccine Confidence Resources

    The National Rural Health Association has created a number of resources as part of their Rural Vaccine Confidence Initiative to help rural health stakeholders build vaccine confidence at the local level.

    The vaccine confidence communication toolkits are free and easy to use communication tools developed around three specific audiences:

    • Hospitals
    • Business/community partners
    • Community as a whole

    These materials:

    • 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
    • Are customizable to allow for localized messaging and branding by hospitals and community partners

    Additional Resources

    • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Healthcare COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination IFC-6 National Stakeholder Call: CMS hosted a webinar with information on the vaccine mandate. View the recording here and the presentation slides here.
  • New Provider Relief and American Rescue Plan Funding (Deadline Closed)

    New Provider Relief and American Rescue Plan Funding Funding Opportunity

    Deadline closed: October 26, 2021 10:59 p.m. CST

    Beginning on September 29, 2021, healthcare providers will be able to apply for two funding distributions related to COVID-19 response: American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural funding and Phase 4 of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF).

    ARP resources are available for providers who serve rural patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 funding is available for a broad range of providers with changes in operating revenues and expenses.

    Provide Relief Funds Phase 4 General Distribution

    • Qualified providers of healthcare, services, and support may receive Provider Relief Fund payments for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues due to coronavirus.
    • Based on providers’ changes in operating revenues and expenses from July 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
    • To promote equity and to support providers with the most need, HRSA will:
      • Reimburse smaller providers for changes in operating revenues and expenditures at a higher percentage compared to larger providers.
      • Provide “bonus” payments based on the amount of services they provide to Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare patients, priced at the generally higher Medicare rates.

    American Rescue Plan (ARP) Rural

    • ARP Rural is intended to help address the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on rural communities and rural healthcare providers, and funding will be available to providers who serve patients in these communities.
    • Payments based on the amount of services providers furnish to Medicaid/CHIP and Medicare beneficiaries living in Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)-defined rural areas.
      • To promote equity, HRSA will price payments at the generally higher Medicare rates for Medicaid/CHIP patients.
    • ARP Rural payments will be determined based on the location of the patients, not the provider. Applicants do not need to verify whether their patients live in an area that meets the definition of rural, and can select whether their organization (including any included subsidiaries) would like to be considered for ARP rural payments during the application process.
    • HRSA will base payments on data already available to it on the amount and type of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP services provided to rural patients. HRSA will use the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy definition of rural.

    Providers can apply for both programs through a single application in the Provider Relief Fund Application and Attestation Portal.  Applications must be completed by October 26, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Providers who have previously created an account in the Provider Relief Fund Application and Attestation Portal HRSA Exit Disclaimer and have not logged in for more than 90 days will need to first reset their password before starting a new application.

    For more information, please visit the HRSA Provider Relief Future Payments website.

  • Rural Healthcare Provider Transition Project (RHPTP) (Deadline Closed)

    Rural Healthcare Provider Transition Project (RHPTP) Technical Assistance

    Updated: September 24, 2021

    Deadline closed: Friday, October 1, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. CST

    The RHPTP helps strengthen the foundation in key elements of value-based care (VBC) including, but not limited to, efficiency, quality, patient experience, and safety of care. Small rural hospitals (SRH) and certified rural health clinics (RHC) are eligible to apply.

    Apply here:

    Informational Video:

    Application Guidance:

    Support Provided: Five applicants will be chosen each year to receive direct technical assistance. Twenty additional organizations will be selected to participate in peer-to-peer education through a Learning Collaborative to promote knowledge base, and support readiness for the more in-depth and comprehensive

    Program Duration: 1 Year (November 21, 2021-August 2022)

    Program Goals:

    • To guide SRHs and certified RHCs not currently participating in VBC to prepare for and position their organizations to be effective participants in a health system focused on value

    For more information, please contact Rhonda Barcus at 904-321-7607 or

  • Join the Senate Resolution 59 (SR59) Lunch and Learn (Archived)

    Join the Senate Resolution 59 (SR59) Lunch and Learn Webinar Series

    Timeline: August-September 2021

    SR59 was passed in the 2021 Legislative Session in response to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with multiple hurricanes and other severe weather events. The past 16 months have highlighted the importance of not only fortifying Louisiana’s utility infrastructure, but also taking the time to ‘kick the tires’ for gaps and fortifications that may be needed to build and sustain a robust healthcare infrastructure. This webinar series has been organized to discuss critical infrastructure capability and capacity needed by medical facilities.

    The lunch and learn webinars will be recorded and posted on the Louisiana Department of Health website. The webinars are open to any/all health care organizations.  The webinars are intended to:

    • Provide educational outreach on the framework, capabilities, and capacity of critical utility systems
    • Allow the healthcare industry to ascertain a vulnerability assessment of their utility infrastructure and its potential impacts to their facility when a failure/disaster occurs
    • Provide an opportunity for the healthcare industry to engage with information that would inform decisions and proposals related to possible future Biden funding for strengthening healthcare infrastructure
  • Provider Relief Fund (Deadline Closed)

    Provider Relief Fund Reporting Deadline

    Deadline closed: September 30, 2021

    Providers who received $10,000 or more between April 10, 2020, to June 30, 2020 (most RHCs) are required to submit reporting by September 30, 2021.

    RHCs should understand that the PRF reporting portal is similar to, but very distinct from, the reporting on With some rare exceptions, RHCs or their parent organizations need to report on both portals. Learn more below.

    On Thursday, September 2, 2021 the National Association of Rural Health Clinics hosted a webinar delivered by HRSA staff on the Provider Relief Fund Portal (PRF) and reporting requirements. This webinar covered some of the basics and frequently asked questions regarding the PRF portal.
    If you have not yet registered in the Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal and reviewed the PRF reporting resources, please do so prior to viewing the recording. New resources include a Lost Revenues GuideAllowable Personnel Expenses, and Reporting Resource Guide.

    Webinar: Navigating the Provider Relief Fund Reporting Portal


    • Samantha Ebersold, Public Health Analyst, Communications Branch, HRSA Office of Provider Support
    • Lindsey Nienstedt, Public Health Analyst, Policy Research Division, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

    To watch the recording of this (and other webinars) visit the TA Webinars page under the Resources tab on

    If you have any questions about the webinar, please email

  • CMS Request for Information Regarding New Rural Emergency Hospitals Provider Type (Deadline Closed)

    CMS Request for Information Regarding the New Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH) Provider Type Comments Requested

    Deadline closed: Friday, September 17, 2021

    On August 4, 2021, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule for CY 2022 (CMS-1753-P) in the Federal Register Notice. Within the OPPS proposed rule there is a request for information (RFI) for the new provider type, the Rural Emergency Hospitals (REH).

    Providers are encouraged to submit comments to CMSPublic comments are due no later than September 17, 2021.

    Statute specifies that REHs:

    • Are facilities that convert from either a Critical Access Hospital or a rural hospital with less than 50 beds and do not provide acute care inpatient services
    • Must furnish emergency department services and observation care and may provide other outpatient medical and health services as specified by the Secretary through rulemaking.
    • Medicare payment shall apply to items and services furnished on or after January 1, 2023.

    CMS is asking for stakeholder feedback on:

    • The extent to which the existing health and safety standards for hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) should also apply to REHs;
    • Additional health and safety standards that should apply to REHs;
    • Quality measurement and reporting;
    • Payment policies;
    • Addressing health equity; and
    • Data sources, additional considerations, and unintended consequences that CMS should consider in the development of policies for REHs.

    Providers are encouraged to submit comments to CMSPublic comments are due no later than September 17, 2021.

  • Rural Health Clinic COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Program (Deadline Closed)

    Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence Program (COVID-19) Funding Opportunity

    Updated: August 3, 2021

    Deadline closed: Thursday, June 24 at 10:59 p.m. CST

    The Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program is a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) initiative to improve vaccine confidence and counter vaccine hesitancy in rural communities where COVID-19 vaccine uptake lags in comparison to more populated areas.

    This RHCVC Program will support outreach in rural communities to improve vaccine confidence and counter vaccine hesitancy in rural areas where vaccine uptake lags in comparison to more populated areas. Program will also address health equity gaps by offering support and resources to medically underserved areas.

    The program will also address health equity gaps by offering support and resources to medically underserved rural communities.

    RHCs meeting the following criteria are eligible to apply for up to $50,000 in grant funds (no match is required):

    • Medicare-certified Rural Health Clinics and organizations that own and operate Medicare-certified Rural Health Clinics.
    • All RHCs must have active CMS Certification Numbers (CCNs) and be listed in the CMS Survey and Certification’s Quality, Certification and Oversight Reports (QCOR).
    • To verify your eligibility, visit the CMS Quality, Certification and Oversight Reports (QCOR) website. On the site, you can verify that your provider type is listed as an RHC.
    • HRSA will fund all eligible RHCs and organizations that own and operate eligible RHCs that apply and have a complete and acceptable RHCVC Program application.
    • The RHCVC program DOES NOT have any rural area location requirements.


    HRSA will award grants to all eligible RHCs that submit an acceptable application. Final award amounts will depend on the number of acceptable applicants, but it is estimated that there will be 2,000 awards for $50,000 per RHC site.

    Funding may be used for a broad range of efforts to improve healthcare in rural areas and reinforce basic messages about prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

    Activities may include, but are not limited to:

    • Vaccine promotion
    • Information dissemination to rural residents about how and where to get vaccinated
    • Coordinating with existing vaccination sites and public health partners to identify isolated and/or vaccine hesitate populations
    • Increasing rural community and individual patient literacy on the benefits of broad vaccination and the safety of vaccines

    Use the National Institute of Health COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Guide for ideas on effective health communication tactics to educate about the vaccine.


    HRSA will make payments under this award through the HHS Payment Management System (PMS). PMS is a tool to help you draw down funds and file the Federal Financial Report (FFR). The Division of Payment Management, Financial Management Services, Program Support Center, manages the PMS. They will forward instructions for obtaining payments. The Awards Management Tutorial has information that will assist you in the successful administration and fiscal management of your award.

    Technical assistance webinars:

    NOSORH RHC Vaccine Confidence Grants Webinar

    Monday, June 14, 2021 Applicant Overview Webinar Technical Assistance

    Friday, June 4, 2021

    Please contact or 1-800-518-4726 for additional questions.

    Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence Program Webinar (HRSA)
    How to Respond to the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Wednesday, June 2, 2021

    Rural COVID-19 Support Webinar

    Monday, June 16, 2021

    Please contact for additional information.

    Additional resources:

    Additional RHC Vaccine Confidence Program information and updates, are available here.

    Technical assistance may also be obtained regarding the grant and its application process through National Office of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) by emailing

    For grants management or budget questions, contact Nancy Gaines at (301) 443-5382 or

  • American Rescue Plan (ARP) COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program (Deadline Closed)

    American Rescue Plan (ARP) COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program Funding Opportunity

    Updated: June 21, 2021

    Deadline closed: Sunday, June 6, 2021

    The American Rescue Plan (ARP) COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program provides funding for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and rural hospitals with 50 beds or fewer hospitals to increase COVID-19 testing efforts, expand access to testing in rural communities, and expand the range of mitigation activities to meet community need.

    This program is managed and funding will be administered through the state Small Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP).  Applications to participate in this program closed June 6, 2021. Notice of Award is expected July 1, 2021.
    Qualifying hospitals who completed an application to participate in the program will be contacted by and enter into agreements with the Louisiana SHIP program to receive funding for allowed expenditures. Allowed expenditures for this program are COVID-19 Testing and COVID-19 Mitigation activities. Some examples of allowed expenditures include:

    COVID-19 Testing

    • Purchase and administration of COVID-19 tests
    • Development and implementation of strategies to address patient concerns regarding testing
    • Ensure access to COVID-19 testing by addressing long-standing systemic health and social inequities that put some rural residents at increased risk for COVID-19 or other severe illness
    • Install temporary structures, leasing of properties, retrofitting facilities
    • Education, rehabilitation, prevention, treatment, and support services for symptoms occurring after recovery from acute COVID-19 infection
    • Planning for implementation of a COVID-19 testing program, hiring staff, procuring supplies to provide testing, training providers and staff on COVID-19 testing procedures, and reporting data to HHS on COVID-19 testing activities

    COVID-19 Mitigation

    • Promote behaviors that prevent spread of infectious diseases
    • Ensure Ventilation Systems operate properly
    • Educate the community, including education on vaccines
    • Maintain health operations for staff, including building measures to cope with employee stress and burnout
    • Conduct contact tracing
    • Use digital technologies to strengthen the hospital’s core capacity to support the public-health response to COVID-19
      Support and referrals to testing, clinical services, and other essential support services

    For additional information or questions, please contact Kandi Smith, Rural Hospital Sustainability Manager at

    Webinar Archive:

    Rural COVID-19 Support Webinar

    Monday, June 16, 2021

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