Congressional study released by Klobuchar says changes needed to strengthen rural health care

A report that says policy changes are needed to strengthen rural health care was released today by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is vice-chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

The report, “Keeping Rural Communities Healthy,” looks at the issue from a national perspective and notes that many rural hospitals provide high-quality care and are often less expensive than urban hospitals, but that access can be a problem.

The report says that “rural areas have only 54 specialists for every 100,000 residents, compared to 134 for every 100,000 in urban areas. There are also fewer dentists in rural areas.”

Suggestions offered in the report:

  • Protect the Critical Access Hospital program.
  • Fund programs that attract doctors to rural areas.
  • Enhance training for rural health care practitioners in preventive services.
  • Expand Telehealth Resource Centers and the Telehealth Network Grant Program.
  • Improve transportation infrastructure.

The report concludes:

“Although many rural hospitals receive high ratings for their level of care, not all rural residents are able to easily access their doctors. In addition, rural residents often face significant health challenges. Improving rural Americans’ access to affordable health care would improve their quality of life and bolster economic opportunity in rural areas.”

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