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NRHA to honor Rural Health Champions at 30th Annual Rural Health Policy Institute

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2019 Rural Health Champion Awards, which recognize outstanding leadership in rural health issues by both members of Congress and congressional staff.
The awards will be presented during NRHA’s 30th annual Rural Health Policy Institute, which brings more than 400 rural health professionals and advocates to Washington, D.C., Feb. 5-7.
This year's Congressional Awardees include Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX), and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK). 
Congressional Staff awards will be presented to Katie Campbell, Deputy Legislative Director to Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) and Dominique Spadavecchia, Legislative Director to Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX).
Administration recipients include Gary Bojes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development.
Senator Doug Jones is true advocate for rural health care. Since he was sworn into office in 2018, he has brought a comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing rural America to the Senate, especially those in his home state of Alabama. Senator Jones’ thorough understanding of the connection between health care and the rural economy guided him in his work on the 2018 Farm Bill, a key piece of legislation for the development of rural areas. Senator Jones cosponsored legislation with Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) to create a Rural Health Liaison Position at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which will work to coordinate and streamline rural health programs at the USDA and across other agencies. This bill was included in the final legislation, which was signed into law in December 2018. Senator Jones is also a strong advocate for the expansion of Medicaid in Alabama and reform to the Medicare Wage Index formula, both of which are critical to the sustainability of the rural health system.
Senator Martin Heinrich is a leader in advocacy focused on rebuilding rural communities and improving rural infrastructure. As the Ranking Member on the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), the Senator has been instrumental in keeping rural at the forefront of conversations about economic growth. In June, under Senator Heinrich’s leadership, the JEC Democrats released a report examining the needs for “Investing in Rural America,” which includes policies to revitalize rural communities that are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. The Senator understands the important role that health care providers play in the rural economy and has been an advocate for continued workforce development and positive reforms. 
Representative Jodey Arrington is a strong advocate for rural Americans. Rep. Arrington genuinely understands the struggle to develop and maintain robust health care in rural America, an understanding obtained while growing up in West Texas. Since he was sworn into the House of Representatives in 2017, he has fought for rural Texans, working with patients and providers to secure major rural victories in the 2018 Farm Bill. Rep. Arrington introduced an amendment, included in the final bill, that will support rural hospitals with USDA loans.
Representative Tom Cole understands the importance of supporting the rural health safety net as Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Last Congress, under his Chairmanship, the Subcommittee authorized more funding for rural health programs than ever before. He has been a constant advocate for rural health programs in the appropriations process and we look forward to his continued support.
As we move into the new Congress, we look forward to our continued work with Senator Jones, Senator Heinrich, Representative Arrington, and Representative. Cole. We thank them for making rural health a priority, and we are excited for their continued championship.
Katie Campbell is a consistent advocate for rural America. Prior to her time with her home state Senator, Doug Jones, Katie worked as a Health Policy Advisor for former Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN). As a key staff member for Senator Jones, Katie is constantly working to protect and expand access to care in rural America. Her creative and critical thinking has allowed her to develop and advance bipartisan solutions to rural health care and rural development.
Dominique Spadavecchia is a consistent and strong advocate for rural health on Capitol Hill. She is a vital staff member for Rep. Arrington, managing his legislative priorities and guiding his work on rural health and development. Her tireless work helped ensure that rural health provisions were maintained in the Farm Bill throughout the legislative process. She constantly considers the impacts of health policies on rural Texas and throughout rural America.
We know that rural health legislation in Congress is not possible without the many staff working tirelessly to guide these bills through the process, and we appreciate this opportunity to honor those who have been rural health’s strongest advocates in the House and Senate.
Gary Bojes was introduced to NRHA and its members only this year, but has been a leader in our partnership to ensure the financial viability of hospital’s with USDA loans moving into 2019. Through this partnership, NRHA and USDA will provide technical assistance to selected rural hospitals under USDA Rural Development’s umbrella. This vital technical assistance will support the maintenance of quality health care services in rural America.
NRHA greatly appreciates the hard work and dedication displayed by this year’s Rural Health Champion award winners.

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