RoundTable in DC: Latest from the NRHA Policy Institute
New England was well represented in Washington at the 2012 NRHA Policy Institute, Jan. 30-Feb.1. RoundTable Executive Director Marion Pawlek, Board members Nancy DuMont, Cathleen McElligott, John Gale, and Jonathan Sprague, and VISTA volunteers Isobel Moiles and Paige St. Cyr were in the Capitol to hear the latest on rural health developments from HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sibelius, Mary K. Wakefield, HRSA Administrator, and other key players.
25% of Americans live in rural areas; 9% of physicians practice in rural areas.
On January 31, the RoundTable contingent met with Congressional delegations "On the Hill." Isobel (Izzy) Moiles and John Gale visited the offices of Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME).
Marion Pawlek, Paige St. Cyr, and Cathleen McElligott visited the offices of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
RoundTable Group to Congress: Remember Rural!
As Congress tackles healthcare reform, the New England Rural Health RoundTable (NERHRT) urges legislators to act, but also to keep the unique nature of rural areas in mind. Marion Pawlek, NERHRT’s Executive Director says, “Our organization supports the President’s goals for reform of the healthcare system but we caution Congress that New England’s rural communities have special concerns.” Pawlek highlights these:
Key points of NERHRT’s “message to Congress” on healthcare legislation:
- Rural areas have higher rates of uninsurance and poverty
- Rural areas rely more heavily on subsidized public programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Programs)
- Many rural areas have an older population with higher healthcare needs
- Rural areas may have a limited number of both insurers and providers
- Expand insurance options so that individuals and small employers in rural areas can get coverage at reasonable cost
- Assure that insurers participating in ‘Exchange’ programs be compelled to contract with the limited pool of providers in rural communities
- Avoid provisions such as high ‘age rating’ ratios that would impact the sub-Medicare elderly in rural areas
- Include provisions to support the rural provider workforce (insurance is only part of the problem of access to care in rural areas)