ICYMI: Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America Hosts Panel Discussion on Rural Health Care

Jul 12, 2018
Press Release

Yesterday, the Blue Dog Coalition’s Special Task Force on Rural America held its third panel discussion on rural issues. The Task Force met with representatives of the National Rural Health Association, American Telemedicine Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the West Virginia chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to discuss ways we can improve access to health care in rural communities across the country. The panel discussion focused primarily on addressing physician shortages and hospital closures, investing in telemedicine, stabilizing the cost of health insurance, and fixing the overall health disparities between rural and urban America. Click here to watch the full event.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Chairman of the Blue Dog Special Task Force on Rural America, issued the following statement:

“I hear about health care from every corner of my district. Rural communities are facing significant challenges, including skyrocketing premiums, lack of insurance choices, long wait times for specialists, expensive prescription drug costs, obstacles to maternity care, and far-flung hospitals and emergency care. These are only some of the challenges that affect their ability to attract and retain talent and investment. Simply put, we can’t unleash our economic potential until we address health care.

“Our communities have been ravaged by the opioid epidemic. Increasing industry consolidation has resulted in facilities shutting their doors in rural areas, leaving residents with limited options and requiring them to travel farther and farther for care. We face provider shortages for primary and specialty care, leaving patients with few provider choices and long wait times for appointments.

“My home state of Arizona has made important progress in recent years. By expanding Medicaid, thousands of hardworking Arizonans now have access to needed care and our hospitals are providing less uncompensated care.

“But we are at a critical crossroads now. As this Administration continues to sabotage the health care marketplace across the nation, families in Arizona and across the nation are poised to face huge premium increases and those with pre-existing conditions are at risk. This also puts rural hospitals at higher risk of closure.

“This discussion highlights not only what’s at stake for rural communities and the importance of stabilizing the marketplace, but also looks forward to the future and focuses on how we can ensure a 21st century, world-class health care system that is accessible and affordable to every family in rural America.”