NRHA Applauds the Trump Administration’s New Rural Action Plan

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Rural Action Plan, the first HHS-wide assessment of rural healthcare efforts in more than 18 years and the product of HHS’s Rural Task Force, a group of experts and leaders across the department first put together by HHS Secretary Alex Azar in 2019. The plan features a strategy with four main points: building a sustainable health and human services model for rural communities, leveraging technology and innovation, focusing on preventing disease and mortality, and increasing rural access to care.

“NRHA applauds the Trump Administration for their work to improve the health care of the 60 million Americans living in rural areas. We are encouraged by this new, comprehensive report, and we look forward to working with the Administration to implement national strategies and innovative programs to improve rural health.”  

- NRHA CEO Alan Morgan - 

This action follows the ‘Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access’ signed by President Trump in early August. Within this order, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) released the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model aimed at addressing disparities in rural health care. Additionally, the executive order requires HHS to review all COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) waivers to see which should be extended beyond the PHE.  

NRHA applauds the Administration for its continued focus on rural healthcare and views this new report as considerable progress toward creating greater healthcare equity in rural areas. It is important to note that the Rural Action Plan, which has an emphasis on obstacles facing the delivery of care in rural areas, comes at the height of the rural hospital closure crisis and amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rural Action Plan outlines Secretary Azar’s long-term goals to improve quality of care in rural America, and we believe it will have a positive impact on rural providers and patients. We again call on Congress to build upon the momentum of the Administration and supply immediate relief and support to rural providers in the next COVID-19 relief package.  

Rural Action Plan Summary (from HHS press release): “Eighteen HHS agencies and offices took part in developing the plan, which includes 71 new or expanded activities for FY 2020 and beyond. Efforts that will be undertaken in FY 2020 include nine new rural-focused administrative or regulatory actions, three new rural-focused technical assistance efforts, 14 new rural research efforts, and five new rural program efforts. These efforts build on 94 new rural-focused projects the HHS Rural Task Force identified as having launched over the past three years.”