|North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center map. Click the image to enlarge it.|
Maggie Elehwany, government and policy vice president for the National Rural Health Association, told Oates, "There is a long history with USDA and the farm bill when it comes to health care in rural communities, particularly when it comes to funding care through loans and grants."
Rural areas generally have an older, poorer and sicker population with a higher percentage of chronic disease and farmworkers doing dangerous jobs, all of which contributes to problems in providing health care access, she said. The inclusion of the rural-health-emergency section to the bill is important not just because of health-care access, but because hospitals provide jobs and help keep rural economies going. Elehwany told Oates that she would like to see more specific language about the opioid crisis, which has stressed the rural health-care system, and specific funding levels for the STRESS Act, which increases rural access to mental health services. Read more here.