Senate Finance Announces Rural Health Hearing on May 24
NRHA is excited to share that the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing discussing the state of health care in rural America next week. The hearing, entitled “Rural Health Care in America: Challenges and Opportunities,” will focus on the difficulties providers face in rural communities, as well as the innovative ways in which they are working to ensure continued local care.
Rural America encompasses more than 90% of the nation’s land area, houses 60 million residents, and 20% of our nation’s population. Still, rural communities make up only 3% of job growth since the Great Recession, and many rural areas continue to see increasing unemployment. Rural communities face unique challenges, from limited resources and geographic isolation, to low population density and persistent poverty. Rural Americans are at disproportionate risk of being uninsured, lacking access to care, and experiencing worse health outcomes.
This hearing could not come at a more critical time for rural Americans as access to care becomes an even greater issue for many rural communities. 83 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 673 are vulnerable to closure. Just last week, two hospitals, one in California and one in Oklahoma, announced that they will soon have to close their doors. Across the country, hospitals are losing their obstetrics units - between 2004 and 2014 more than 200 rural hospitals stopped providing labor and delivery services. The most vulnerable are placed at greater risk: rural counties with higher percentages of African American women were more than 10 times as likely as rural counties with higher percentages of white women to have never had hospital-based obstetric services and more than 4 times as likely to have lost obstetric services between 2004-2014. As access to many kinds of care in rural communities disappear, we need the support of Congress now more than ever to stop the flood of hospital closures and create an environment in which innovation can thrive.
The Senate Finance Committee has been an incredible partner and friend to rural patients and providers, consistently working with rural communities to find ways to address their unique needs. We are grateful to the Members of the Committee for their constant commitment to rural America, and we look forward to continuing this dialogue with them about policies to improve rural health care during and after the hearing.
To watch the hearing live on May 24, you can visit this link. We will also live Tweet the hearing @NRHA_Advocacy.
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