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Wakefield: Proud to partner with NRHA

Current and potential funding support caught the attention of the more than 450 National Rural Health Association members attending the Rural Health Policy Institute this week in D.C. Earlier today, Mary Wakefield, PhD, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) administrator and former National Rural Health Association member, outlined workforce, education, health information technology, telehealth and other HRSA projects and grant programs benefitting or with the potential to help improve rural health quality and access. “Rural health care challenges are a crucial focus for us, and rural is always a part of our thinking,” she said of HRSA staff. “It’s not a question of either-or in terms of strengthening the rural health care safety net. It’s all in.” As of Jan. 1, Wakefield said, more than 1,000 now-eligible critical access hospitals, 236 sole community hospitals and 76 rural referral centers had enrolled in the 340B prescription drug discount program. “And we expect those numbers to trend up,” she said. “It’s an extremely important program that facilities in rural America are now able to take advantage of.” She also highlighted a new $1.5 billion home visiting program where nurses and social workers educate in the homes of families in high-risk communities. “I’m really happy to report that more than 40 percent of the families served by this program will be in rural communities,” Wakefield explained. She invited Policy Institute attendees to check out new funding opportunities and current programs being supported in their states online here. “We’re looking at all of our programs through the lens of what impact they might have on rural,” Wakefield said. “I am really, really, really proud to be your partner as HRSA’s administrator and really pleased to have the privilege to work with a [HHS] secretary so committed to rural health and to bring the focus of rural health not only to the federal government but to all Americans. I look forward to a continued partnership with the National Rural Health Association and with each of you.” NRHA’s 23rd annual Rural Health Policy Institute continues through Wednesday in D.C.

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