More than 1,300 critical access hospitals across the country are expected to benefit from an expanded loan repayment program aimed at boosting physician recruitment. The expanded eligibility for the National Health Service Corps is part of President Obama's recently announced jobs initiative for rural America.
“Including critical access hospitals in the National Health Service Corps program is a nice step forward in adding another tool to the toolbox that CAHs have to meet the needs of their communities and fulfill their mission as a vital cog in the rural health care safety net,” said a statement from the National Rural Health Association.
According to the White House, the addition of just one primary care physician in a rural community generates approximately $1.5 million in annual revenue.
Also included in the jobs program is an agreement between HHS and the United State Department of Agriculture that will link rural hospitals and clinicians to existing capital loan programs to help them buy health IT software and hardware and jump the typical rural hospital hurdle of limited access to capital and lower financial operating margins.
Just a few days before making its rural jobs program announcement, the White House Rural Council released a new report, Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America, which outlines recent investments in areas such as healthcare access. They include:
- Providing distance learning and telemedicine services to more than 2,500 rural healthcare and educational facilities.
- Placing 2,641 clinicians in rural communities through the National Health Service Corps
- Investing in more than 500 projects across the VA health care system in support of rural health care, including 404 community-based outpatient clinics and 48 outreach clinics in rural areas
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.