The U.S. House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittees on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade and Health and Technology held a joint hearing today on the importance of rural health and telehealth to help and support rural communities. NRHA President David Schmitz, MD, testified on how federal investments in rural health care help ensure that rural health care thrives leading to healthy communities and sustainable their communities
Dr. Schmitz explained how improving access to care by investing in rural health care—from workforce to telehealth—is a means to bolster the local economy and must be a priority for both the Administration and Congress.
“Rural health care providers are not only critically important for the health of rural Americans, they are critically important for the economic health of rural communities,” Dr. Schmitz said. “While many industries in rural America have been shrinking, health care is an industry with the potential to reverse declining employment. As factory and farming jobs decline, the local rural hospital often becomes the hub of the local business community – not only offering critical life-saving services, but representing as much as 20 percent of the economy.”
Dr. Schmitz also highlighted how technology, such as telemedicine for consultation services, is an important component to rural health care delivery yet is dependent on the adequate development of broadband internet into rural and remote areas. He also stressed the need to have technology across “rural distributed campuses” to train the workforce to meet the needs of rural communities.
“Graduate medical education regulatory reform allowing for education of physicians in rural hospitals is one example of how to address rural economic development and workforce shortages in one action, while improving quality and delivering cost-saving health care,” he said.