NRHA trip to Washington D.C.

The National Rural Health Policy Institute was a few weeks ago, Sunday, January 29 – Wednesday, February 1st.  This was a great school trip, a great professional experience, and a great way to learn about legislation that will be affecting the my profession, the hospitals I will work in and with each day, and my patients one day.

One of the many themes of the Policy Institute was that: cutting rural funding does not make fiscal sense.  This would mean cutting close access off to many many families that live in rural America.

There were many things that I learned at the policy institute.

  • Sequestration: If Sequestration passes then it will disproportionately harm rural providers and should be modified. The Budget control act mandated that Medicare spending sequester that will disproportionately harm rural providers and should be modified to avoid crisis in access to care.  People, politicians, most of the population does not realize the actual obstacles faced by health care providers and patients in rural areas are vastly different than those in urban areas.  Rural facilities are more dependent on Medicare reimbursement based on the population of patients they serve. With all of this being said if a two percent cut where taken from rural providers it would cause catastrophic gaps in access to care for a large percent of the population.

Here is some more information that I learned about rural healthcare:

  • There is a higher uninsured and Medicaid population that is serviced at these hospitals.  Small rural hospitals also operate on a much narrower financial margin.  Keeping the 2% is vital to keeping the doors at CAH, MDH, and HMC facilities open.
  • 1/3 of hospitals in the United States are Critical Access Hospitals, which accounts for 5% of Medicare expenditures.
  • PLEASE GOVERNMENT, DON’T THROW RURAL MEDICINE AND HEALTHCARE UNDER THE BUS!
  • Each physician in a rural community brings 23 jobs to the community
  • 25% of the population in American lives on 90% of the landmass in the United States and only 9% of physicians in the United States practice in rural communities. This seemed to be a statement that was restated many times throughout the conference. LESS THAN 10% OF PHYSICIANS PRACTICE IN RURAL AMERICA
  • One major point also trying to be driven across is that you should not have to go to a major city to get the best medical care , technology can help improve the quality of care in rural America: There are new telemedicine grants available, these are through the Rural Network Enforcement development grants.

The National Rural Health Service Cor. was at the Policy Institute. Mary WakefieldHealth Resources and Services Administration, (HRSA)

  • there are so many great opportunities offered to medical students and physicians through the National Rural Health Service Cor: Home – NHSC. They can help with loan repayment and job placement. Ms. Mary Wakerfield talked about how this is important for helping get physicians into the rural or underserved areas and hopefully getting those people truly invested in the community so that they will stay in the community after their service time is up. 
  • One of the most important things that was learned and experienced at the National Rural Health Policy Institute is how important it is for physicians to stay active in the politics of medicine. It is only the people that actually live in, practice in, work in the hospitals, and rural communities not only of Oklahoma,but of all the areas in the US that know what we truly need to improve healthcare.  Our voice needs to be heard.
  • Stay active throughout your career, no matter what part of the healthcare field you are in.
  • For more information on the National Rural Health Policy Institute or just rural medicine in general check out: NRHA – National Rural Health Association Home Page.
  • Grassroots movements:NRHA – Grassroots Action Center.
  • OSU Rural Health.
  • (1) OSU Center for Rural Health.
  • Physicians Manpower Training Commission.
  • GME Funding – Initiatives – AAMC.

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