President Obama Holds Rural Economic Forum

President Obama will meet with rural business leaders, farmers, and rural organizations today in Peosta, Iowa.  This “Rural Economic Forum” is aimed at increasing innovation and economic growth in rural environments.  NRHA President Kris Sparks has been invited to the forum and will attend today.

As part of the forum, the White House announced a number of initiatives aimed at helping the rural economy and rural communities.  Included in this announcement, are two initiatives aimed at helping the rural health care safety net.  First, Critical Access Hospitals will now be able to recruit doctors from the National Health Service Corps.  Second, rural hospitals and rural clinicians will be allowed to access current HHS and USDA loan programs to help them purchase software and hardware needed to implement health information technology (HIT).

NRHA released the following public comment about these announcements: The National Rural Health Association is grateful to the President for his recognition of the longstanding challenges that rural hospitals face in recruiting physicians. Rural hospitals face significant barriers to providing health care services in rural America.  With traditional lack of access to capital, reimbursement inequities, and a crippling rural professional workforce shortage, it is of the utmost importance that any policies take these unique factors into account.  Including Critical Access Hospitals in the National Health Service Corps program  is a nice step forward in adding another tool to the toolbox that CAHs have to meet the needs of their communities and fulfill their mission as a vital cog in the rural health care safety net.

Please contact NRHA Government Affairs at (202) 639-0550 with any questions.