Blue Dogs Host Rural Opportunity Roundtable Discussion on Expanding Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care

Sep 9, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition hosted its third discussion as part of the virtual Rural Opportunity Roundtable series. Specifically, today’s discussion focused on expanding access to quality, affordable health care in rural America.
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity, Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), and Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), participated in today’s discussion. They were joined by the following special guests:
  • Alan Morgan, CEO, National Rural Health Association (NRHA)
  • Dr. Michael Peterson, Associate Dean, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Fresno
  • Christina Campos, CEO, Guadalupe County Hospital
“Rural providers across New Mexico have fought hard to keep their doors open while continuing to provide high quality health care. Even in the best of times, our rural providers operate at the margins, and it’s critical Congress works together to ensure New Mexicans can receive care no matter where they live,” said Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity. “I’ve advocated for legislation to expand telehealth and dedicate funds for our rural areas, and today, I’m proud to continue this work with the Blue Dog Coalition as we hear from experts, including Christina Campos from Guadalupe County Hospital.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the healthcare gaps we have in our system, especially for rural health. That’s why expanding access to quality health care for rural communities in South Texas, and across the United States, has remained my top priority,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have worked hard to increase funding programs that support rural health clinics, address physician shortages, and expand telemedicine. I will continue to fight for the health and well-being of families in rural America during this pandemic, and beyond.”
"Today's roundtable provided a welcome discussion about the ongoing challenges facing our rural patients, especially during the pandemic,” said Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition. “Doctor shortages continue to plague rural areas like the San Joaquin Valley and reduce access to quality medical care. As we heard from University of California San Francisco - Fresno's Dr. Michael Peterson, securing federal resources to train new medical professionals is critical to addressing this problem. I'm hopeful that the next COVID-19 relief package includes provisions that increase our supply of doctors in underserved areas." 
To watch the full discussion, click here.
The Blue Dogs are developing a forward-looking plan to strengthen rural America by building a strong economic foundation and creating good-paying jobs. As they develop their plan, the Blue Dogs want to hear from policy experts and from those who are experiencing the issues of our time on the ground. That’s why the Coalition has launched the Rural Opportunity Roundtable series, which began with a discussion with local and tribal leaders about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their communities, followed by a discussion on expanding access to high-speed broadband internet in rural America. Over the next month, there will be discussions on several issues important to rural and tribal communities, including access to mental health and addiction treatment, supporting small business and entrepreneurship, strengthening the outdoor economy, expanding access to education and workforce training, and more.