• Home
  • Blogs
  • Sen. Grassley and Rep. Smith celebrate National Rural Health Day

Sen. Grassley and Rep. Smith celebrate National Rural Health Day

The National Rural Health Association applauds Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) for being stalwart champions for rural America. Rep. Smith delivered a statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing National Rural Health Day. The video of the remarks is here. Sen. Grassley took the U.S. Senate floor today to deliver a statement on the importance of rural health care and to recognize rural health care providers: "Approximately 62 million Americans live in rural areas, and they depend on an ever shrinking number of healthcare providers.  Rural providers play an important role in improving the health of their communities and supporting local economies.  I want to thank our rural providers—individuals, hospitals and clinics for all that they do. Rural providers support a population that makes invaluable contributions to this country through food production, manufacturing and other vital industries.  Yet, more people in rural areas are living below the poverty line than their urban counterparts.  Rural hospitals are struggling to continue providing care due to declining payments, many exacerbated by the Affordable Care Act. The past few years have been marked by increasing rural hospital closures, with 27 hospitals shutting their doors in the last two years.  The trend is concerning and deserves attention as many more facilities and communities are at risk right now. Once a hospital is gone, the devastating impact on the community cannot be undone.  The economic impact is unmistakable. The typical critical access hospital creates over 140 jobs in primary employment and $6.8 million in local wages while serving a population of over 14,000." When facilities close, the consequences of traveling great distances for medical care are much more than inconvenience—the delays in obtaining care can mean the difference between life and death.  According to U.S. News & World Report, that was the case for an infant in Texas who choked on a grape and died after the only hospital in the county had closed just a few months before.  There are a number of similarly tragic stories, and they will continue to mount if we fail to take action. In 1946, Congress recognized the importance of rural healthcare providers and worked to build the rural health infrastructure that exists today.  The country has changed dramatically since then, and thoughtful action to improve the distribution and capabilities of our rural health system is overdue.  We need to act now to support our rural providers and facilitate a responsible transition to a modernized health system. Rural America is facing what I would call an arbitrary attrition of providers. The hospital closures are a function of no specific design.  It’s all about balance sheets strained to the breaking point by continual payment cuts.  It’s not about where providers need to be to serve populations.  We need to take a thoughtful look at what the future of rural health care needs to be.  We need to be willing to consider bold steps to ensure that rural America has access to high quality care. Health care coverage – whether through private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid – without access to providers of care is meaningless.  We need to put a stop to the arbitrary process now and work forward in designing a better, sustainable future for rural health care. I would like to close by once again thanking all of America’s rural providers.  I am committed to working with all stakeholders to transition to a better future and protect access to health care in rural America."

This website uses cookies. By accepting the use of cookies, this message will close and you will receive the optimal website experience. For more information on our cookie policy, please visit our Privacy Policy