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House members from Nebraska, Wisconsin say they value rural health innovators

Reps. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Ron Kind, D-Wis., both spoke at the National Rural Health Association's 2013 Rural Health Policy Institute on Tuesday in D.C. And both said they value rural health innovators, encouraging attendees from all 50 states to share their challenges and successes with members of Congress. Smith represents Nebraska's third district, which is larger than 27 states and includes 50 critical access hospitals. "I consider one of my biggest responsibilities to be sharing the reality back home with folks in Washington," he said. "Your insight and ideas for innovation are invaluable. The government, as well-meaning as it may be, is actually impeding innovation." Smith promised to try be "part of the solution". "I have seen most rural entities in Nebraska be great examples of how innovation is making differences, and moving forward, I would hope we would not stand in the way of that," he said. "I hope we would still be able to offer flexibility." Kind, co-chair of the House Rural Health Caucus, also emphasized the importance of rural health innovation. "I see a lot of interesting innovations in the rural health community, and you ought to have a seat at the tables," he said. "Others can certainly learn from you." He also discussed the potential implications of sequestration on rural hospitals and clinics. "The bad news is that there isn't a lot of conversation taking place," he said. "The good news is that Congress works best with our backs against the wall. Given where your margins already are, this across-the-board cut would be felt." More than 400 rural health professionals and students visited with their elected officials on Capitol Hill after hearing from cabinet members and members of Congress as part of the 24th annual NRHA event. Click here for details on the Policy Institute.    

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