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How Can Rural Healthcare Be Stabilized? 4 Answers

By John Commins  
   May 24, 2018

A panel of policy experts offered the Senate Finance Committee their wish list of top priorities for rural healthcare in the coming years.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, asked a panel of rural health policy experts testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday what they'd do if they could "wave a magic wand" to create longer-term stability for rural providers and the seniors they serve.

Here's how they responded:

  1. "We have talked to people in communities where rural hospitals have closed and almost always the first thing we hear is the disappearance of the emergency department. My top priority is maintaining access to emergency care."
    George H. Pink, deputy director of the Rural Health Research Program at the University of North Carolina
  2. "Mine would be building that integrated system that would include beyond hospital-based services, particularly post-acute care after hospitalization and care for the elderly with chronic conditions which was in part addressed by the Chronic Care Act. We need to move forward with some of the innovations that are coming out of that."
    Keith J. Mueller, director, RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, University of Iowa
  3. "The flexibility to develop a model in each rural committee that meets their needs so they can keep emergency care and other services. It would allow critical access hospitals to merge into a different model which would limit their need to have inpatient beds and be able to have emergency departments and do outpatient care to keep the financials healthy in that model."
    Karen M. Murphy, RN, founding director of Glenn Steele Institute of Health Innovation at Geisinger, Danville, Pennsylvania
  4. "My top priority would be recognition of the difficulty of acquiring and retaining providers in rural communities. Rural healthcare and rural communities create an environment that is unique. The opportunities that have been demonstrated in some of our ACO models create not only the integration of hospitals and physicians, but include all components of healthcare across the continuum. This environment is motivating and inspiring and it could create a platform for transforming healthcare."
    Susan K. Thompson, RN, CEO, UnityPoint Accountable Care, West Des Moines, Iowa

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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