An Update on Rural Health Policy
A Preconference to NCSL's Spring Forum-Thursday, April 8, 2010 in Washington D.C.
This meeting discussed state and federal policies and state models that are working to: 1) improve the quality of health care in rural areas, 2) address health care financing issues for rural areas, 3) improve the distribution of health care providers, 4) improve the health of rural residents by reducing obesity, and 5) improve the health of rural residents by reducing drug abuse.
Americans living in rural areas face unique challenges and factors that are not shared by their urban counterparts. Only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural America despite the fact that nearly one-fourth of the population lives in these areas. Difficulties recruiting and retaining health care providers have resulted in longstanding disparities in rural and urban physician supply. In addition, rural uninsured rates are higher than those in urban areas which contribute to difficulty obtaining needed care. People living in rural areas are nearly twice as likely to die from unintentional injuries and they travel greater distances to reach a doctor or hospital. State and federal policymakers continue to work towards reducing the geographic disparities in health.
Federal Health Reform and the Rural Health Implications
On March 26th, President Obama signed the federal health reform legislation into law. This session discussed aspects of the new legislation that will have a significant impact on rural health.
Speakers: Keith Mueller, Director, Rural Policy Research Institute, University of Nebraska - PDF PowerPoints (PDF File)
Joy Wilson, Federal Affairs Counsel and Health Policy Director, National Conference of State Legislatures
Programs to Train, Recruit and Retain Physicians in Rural Areas
Today, more than 50 million Americans—20 percent of the U.S. population—are rural, but only 9 percent of physicians practice in those areas. An aging U.S. population and more who are chronically ill may increase the demand for primary care providers and other providers in the years to come. At the same time, the workforce supply is shrinking: the workforce itself is growing older and nearing retirement, and not enough new providers are available to replace them. This session focused on successful federal and state programs for training, recruitment, and retention of the rural health workforce with emphasis on ARRA-related programs and what health reform might bring.
Speakers: Jan Heinrich, Deputy Associate Administrator, HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions
Stacey Day, Director of Recruitment, South Carolina Office of Rural Health - PDF PowerPoints (PDF File) - PDF Handout (PDF File)
A Goal for Rural America: Obtain and Maintain a Healthy Weight for All Rural Residents
Obesity rates are higher in rural America. Trends show that rural Americans are less likely to engage in physical activity than those living in urban areas. This session will focus on programs that are helping to reduce and control obesity in rural populations and actions state policymakers have taken to address this issue.
Speakers: Janice Probst, Director, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, University of South Carolina - PDF PowerPoints (PDF File)
Larry Morandi, Division Director, State Policy Research, National Conference of State Legislatures - PDF PowerPoints (PDF File)
Reducing drug abuse
Rural youth and young adults have higher rates of substance abuse than youth in urban areas. According to Hartley’s study, drug abuse among youth and young adults increases the more rural the area is. This session will provide a brief overview of drug abuse in rural areas and focus on strategies and innovations that legislators can implement in their home state to reduce drug abuse.
Speaker: David Hartley, Director, Maine Rural Health Research Center, University of Southern Maine - PDF PowerPoints (PDF File)
This meeting was supported by a grant from The Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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