Washington, D.C. — Many rural communities across the United States lack access to health care, but states have several tools available to help relieve rural care shortages and support health care professionals during the pandemic and beyond, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.
While only 14 percent of Americans—or about 46 million people—live in rural areas, rural communities represent nearly two-thirds of the areas facing a shortage of primary care health professionals. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted this gap in access.
The report outlines some of the steps that states can take to improve rural health care access, including:
- Establishing programs to address the financial barriers to entering and remaining in the medical profession, such as loan repayment programs and loan issuance and assistance programs
- Making changes to the scopes of practice for nonphysician providers such as physicians assistants and advanced practice registered nurses
- Creating policies to promote newer methods of receiving care, such as telemedicine and mobile clinics
- Implementing a state-run program to help reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance for providers
“These reforms can help people living in rural areas get the medical care they need,” said Emily Gee, Vice President and Coordinator for Health Policy at CAP and co-author of the report. “These types of reforms to allow professionals to afford training and fully contribute their skills and training to help ensure that families’ access to care doesn’t depend on where they live.”
Read the report: “How States Can Expand Health Care Access in Rural Communities” by Thomas Waldrop and Emily Gee
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at firstname.lastname@example.org.