Sixty-two million Americans live in rural areas and they have higher rates of mortality, disability and chronic disease than their urban counterparts. With high poverty and unemployment rates, low rates of health insurance coverage and an undersupply of health care providers, the ills of the health care system are especially notable in rural communities. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains provisions relating to access to care, coverage and delivery system reform. But the impact of these provisions is uncertain in rural America, with its unique challenges.
What provisions in the ACA address rural health care challenges? How key is Medicaid in access to care in rural areas? Will the health workforce be sufficient to meet demand when coverage expands? How can recruitment and retention challenges be met? What role will state practice acts and licensing play in the use of allied health professionals and in the delivery of telehealth services?
A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions.
Keith Mueller, director of Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI’s) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, provided an overview of rural health issues, what’s in the ACA to address them and what challenges remain.
Tom Morris, director of HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy, offered an update on federal rural initiatives that aim to strengthen the workforce and enhance access to health care.
Art Kaufman, vice chancellor for community health sciences at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center featured the center’s community health focus through a program of academic extension hubs. He highlighted the role of community health workers and outcomes in Native American communities.
Lisa Miller, former member of the Maine House of Representatives, talked about challenges that state legislatures and executives face in serving rural populations, including scope of practice and licensure.
Ed Howard of the Alliance and Zane Yates of Centene moderated the discussion.
Contact: Marilyn Serafini firstname.lastname@example.org 202/789-2300