Press Releases

Klobuchar Releases New Report Highlighting the Economic Importance of Keeping Rural Communities Healthy

Aug 05 2014

While many rural hospitals have been recognized for providing high-quality care, expanding access to quality health care remains a challenge

Klobuchar’s report shows that rural areas have only 54 specialists for every 100,000 residents, compared to 134 for every 100,000 in urban areas; report also shows patients living in rural areas must travel greater distances to see doctors, with over 40 percent of rural residents having to travel more than 30 minutes to a hospital

Report highlights the economic importance of ensuring rural communities have access to quality health care and outlines key policy priorities to improve access, including protecting the Critical Access Hospital program, funding programs that attract doctors to rural areas, and expanding telehealth programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), today released a new report highlighting the economic importance of keeping America’s rural communities healthy. While many rural hospitals have been recognized for providing high-quality care, expanding access to quality health care remains a challenge in many parts of the country. Klobuchar’s report shows that rural areas have only 54 specialists for every 100,000 residents, compared to 134 for every 100,000 in urban areas. The report also shows patients living in rural areas must travel greater distances to see doctors, with over 40 percent of rural residents having to travel more than 30 minutes to a hospital.

The report highlights the economic importance of ensuring rural communities have access to quality health care and outlines key policy priorities to improve access, including protecting the Critical Access Hospital program, funding programs that attract doctors to rural areas, and expanding telehealth programs.

“Healthy rural communities lead to healthy local economies,” Klobuchar said. “Ensuring that rural communities in Minnesota and across the country have access to health care can help boost worker productivity, improve quality of life, and drive economic growth. This report makes clear that improving rural Americans’ access to affordable, quality health care is the right thing to do for rural communities and for our economy."

Klobuchar’s report shows that limited access to health care in rural communities can have negative economic impacts. For example, rural areas rely on small businesses and the self-employed more than urban economies, and a business that relies on the health of a few workers may be more affected when an employee gets sick than a larger business. Additionally, some employers may take access to health services into consideration when deciding where to locate their businesses.

The report also outlines a number of policy proposals to help ensure that rural Americans can access quality health care and contribute to the economy, including protecting the Critical Access Hospital Program, funding programs that attract doctors to rural areas, enhancing training for rural health care practitioners in preventive services, and expanding Telehealth Resource Centers and the Telehealth Network Grant Program.

Klobuchar has long supported the role Critical Access Hospitals play in rural communities. Earlier this year, she cosponsored legislation that would repeal a rule limiting the care Medicare recipients can receive at rural hospitals. Last year, along with Senator Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Rick Nolan, and Tim Walz, Klobuchar also urged the Medicare program to reject recommendations that would remove the “necessary provider” designation for Critical Access Hospitals that fail to meet the distance requirements.

The full report can be found here.

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