The second half of the report outlines the current state of rural America, including its healthcare access and performance challenges. The report cites statistics like ones showing that rural counties had on average 62 primary care doctors for every 100,000 residents in 2008, compared with 79.5 primary care doctors for the same number of residents in urban areas.
Although provider shortages are not news to rural healthcare leaders, it's encouraging that the White House is acknowledging the problem, advocates say, and the creation of the White House Rural Council is a step in the right direction.
"This is something we have supported in the past as a means to better coordinate rural issues across sector within the federal government. However, for this new council to be successful, it will need to place health and healthcare front and center within its discussions,” Alan Morgan, the National Rural Health Association's CEO, said in an e-mail to HealthLeaders Media in June.
The White House report also points to improvements to rural healthcare that will come with the Affordable Care Act, such as a 10% bonus for general surgeons in health professional shortage areas for the years 2011-2015.