The Center for Rural Affairs will release its second policy report in a series of reports examining the health care reform's impact on rural America, titled "Health Care Reform, What's In It," on Aug. 4. The report examines important, beneficial provisions of the legislation. The report's author, Center for Rural Affairs Research Director Jon Bailey, says much of the attention to the new federal health care law was paid to the politically volatile insurance coverage provisions. But he says an important part of the law received little attention - the portions concerning quality health care access.
Access issues are serious health challenges in most of rural America according to Bailey. He says the new law provides numerous opportunities for rural areas to increase all medical professions and stabilize their medical delivery system. Bailey says the provisions also have the potential to aid the economies of many rural communities as new and improved medical facilities and more health care professionals in rural communities will afford more jobs, more income and more economic opportunity in those communities. He states rural families, businesses and communities have a lot to gain from health care reform as it passed both the House and Senate, and much to lose if government fails to properly implement or Congress fails to adequately fund the provisions crucial to improving rural health care access.
Those provisions highlighted in Bailey's report include funding opportunities for the training and education of rural physicians and expansion of other medical professionals; recruitment of young rural students for health care careers; expansion of medical care facilities in rural areas; improving Emergency medical services; and healthier eating and living initiatives and earlier access to primary care providers for disease prevention. He says they are long-term solutions to a significant challenge to rural health care, but they must become priorities for the Administration, Congress, state governments and all rural people for them to work.