All states, even those with large centers of urban population, have rural communities and rural residents among their citizens. Residents of rural communities face unique health care challenges, including fewer health care providers, higher rates of chronic disease, and lower adoption rates of health IT.
Many provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) speak to the needs of rural communities, for instance, by addressing health workforce shortages. The law expands health professional training programs, makes it easier for providers in rural areas to benefit from technology and makes it easier for rural residents to connect with providers.
A number of activities related to getting rural communities connected electronically and to increasing the health care workforce started under the Recovery Act (ARRA) and continue to be supported under ACA. They often involve state and federal government and public-private partnerships.
What specific provisions in the new law pertain to rural health care? How do they build on what ARRA started? What opportunities do these provisions present and what are some of the challenges for states and the federal government in implementation? What lessons are being learned from the Beacon Communities?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and the United Health Foundation sponsored an October 13 briefing. The briefing looked at current health care policy initiatives pertaining to rural health care issues, with a special focus on health information technology, and the opportunities and challenges that health reform implementation presents.
Panelists were: Tom Morris, HRSA Office of Rural Health Policy; Clinton MacKinney, University of Iowa; and Mario Gutierrez, California Center for Connected Health Policy. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Catherine Anderson of the UnitedHealth Group co-moderated.
Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)