New Report Funded by The Leona M. And Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Highlights Challenges of Rural Health Care Delivery and Offers Solutions
While there are renewed efforts to revive rural America, its residents continue to face greater disparities and barriers to quality health care than their urban counterparts and should not be disenfranchised from national policy discussions. Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center releases a new report which highlights the challenges of health care delivery in rural areas of the Upper Midwest and identifies key areas for reform that could apply nationally to all rural communities.
The report, Reinventing Rural Health Care: A Case Study of Seven Upper Midwest States, was created over a six-month period in collaboration with the Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CORE). It includes insight from nearly 100 national thought leaders and health care providers in Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming on the current state of rural health care, and the strategies and tools needed to deliver high-quality, high-value care to rural and frontier areas of these states.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show that 46 million Americans living in rural areas are at a greater risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than their urban counterparts. Rural residents also have higher rates of obesity, tobacco and opioid use, and suicide than those living in urban areas.
'In order to address health care in rural America, federal laws should better align to meet the unique needs of rural areas of our country,' said G. William Hoagland, BPC senior vice president. 'The 115th Congress has introduced numerous bills that address rural health care, but acted upon individually, they are piecemeal and take a siloed approach to improving access and delivery and that will not solve this problem.'
BPC's survey of the seven Upper Midwest states identified four specific policy areas for developing recommendations:
1)Rightsizing Health Care Services to Fit Community Needs. Recognizing not every community needs a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), communities should adjust services to better suit the needs of the local area. In an effort to prevent closures, CAHs should be allowed to provide more primary care and prevention-focused services.
2) Creating Rural Funding Mechanisms. Given small population sizes, growing health care needs, and demographic trends, rural areas need alternative Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement metrics and payment mechanisms that allow for value-based alternative payment models and innovation. Appropriate reimbursement mechanisms for telemedicine should also be examined to accommodate the virtual provider and the on-site provider or host hospital...