The 42nd Annual Rural Health Conference is back!
During the week of May 7-10 leaders in healthcare will convene to address some of the critical issues and emergencies facing rural hospitals. So, what has changed since last year’s 2018 conference?
The struggle in rural healthcare to keep hospitals open is still an ongoing battle. In fact, Maggie Elehwany of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) openly states that rural health is in a crisis. Considering over 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors since 2010, and close to 46 percent of currently open rural hospitals are functioning at a loss, many in the industry are working feverishly to keep the lights on.
In their recent report on government affairs for the fiscal year of 2018, NRHA had a number of rural healthcare wins to highlight, evincing that the fruit of their labor is working. Some of the bright spots of the past year included various legislative and regulatory victories in the fight for sustainable rural healthcare.
These wins and more where all underscored by NRHA’s growing presence on social media and increased visibility on Capitol Hill. Public messaging and meetings with members of Congress helped NRHA’s government affairs team set the tone for what will come in 2019. However, even though progress has been made through improved government relations, it cannot go without emphasizing that they’re just getting started.
The challenges for rural healthcare in America run the gamut from socioeconomic disadvantages to the sheer size of the rural American landscape. As part of their 2019 plan and leading up to their Annual Rural Health Conference this May, NRHA will be placing a special focus on these key issues.
Providing the rural population with a strong, unified voice when it comes to healthcare regulations, including:
Attracting and retaining skilled healthcare workers in general, is one of the most difficult rural healthcare challenges providers are facing.
NRHA reports that developing a program to foster growth in the rural healthcare workforce will be a key initiative for 2019, especially in the areas of obstetrics (OB) and maternity care. A 2017 study revealed that an astonishing 58 percent of rural counties do not have access to hospital-based OB care and more than 200 rural maternity wards have closed from 2004 to 2014.
Too often healthcare legislation marginalizes the rural sector of the industry. In 2019 NRHA will continue to work to support programs designed to improve access to rural care and make it more affordable for the rural population.
Efforts will include pushing for regulatory changes that support health care in rural areas and reforms to the Affordable Care Act that have unintentionally hurt the rural population.
NRHA’s CEO Alan Morgan recently shared with us that we are on the dawn of a rural renaissance in healthcare. They plan on turning this vision into a reality in their plans for 2019 by addressing the following:
Sustaining healthcare for rural America won’t come without hard work on all sides. The heaviest workload continues to fall at ground zero and will take the resilient efforts of the rural hospitals themselves and the communities they serve. However, with continued support from organizations like NRHA and through partnerships with invested healthcare vendors, a bright future for rural healthcare is more than possible.
Get involved and see first-hand what NRHA is doing to advocate for rural health. Join us in attending the nation’s largest rural health conference, NRHA’s Annual Rural Health Conference in May.
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Let’s help solve this together!