Rural Organizations call for Health Care Reform

Release Date: 

03/19/2010

Contact(s): 

John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs, johnc@cfra.org, (563) 581-2867

Maggie Elehwany, National Rural Health Association, melehwany@nrharural.org, (202) 639-0550

Melisssa Augusto, National Farmers Union, maugusto@nfudc.org, (202) 554-1600

Lyons, Nebraska - Today, three national rural organizations - the National Rural Health Association, National Farmers Union and Center for Rural Affairs - called on members of the House and Senate to pass health care reform that works for rural America.
"Family farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners have faced some of the sternest challenges under the current health care system. And the economic future of our rural communities hinges on addressing those challenges. It's time for the House and Senate to pull together and send this bill to the President," said Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union.

The delivery of the letter comes at a time when Congressional leaders are working to shore up support for final passage of health care reform among Representatives who are considered "swing votes," many of whom hail from predominantly rural districts.

"Rural America needs both affordable coverage and access to care. It doesn't matter if you have insurance coverage if you don't have a doctor in your community. The health care bill not only will cover 95% of the uninsured, but it will go far in addressing major workforce shortages in rural America. Rural America needs health care reform now, " said Dennis Berens, President of the National Rural Health Association.

According to the letter, health care access for rural people will be strengthened through the establishment of health insurance exchanges for the self-employed and small businesses. And premium assistance will be provided through tax credits for small businesses and for low and moderate income individuals purchasing insurance through the exchange. The letter also contains a list of provisions in current legislation of great importance to farmers, ranchers, rural small businesses and rural health care providers.

"If congress fails to act, by 2019 one in three rural Americans in towns of 2,500 people or fewer will go without health insurance. Rural America's farmers, ranchers, small businesses and communities cannot afford to wait another decade for health care reform.  It's time for Congress to act decisively and move reform forward," urged Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs.

Center for Rural Affairs research has found that, under the current health care system, rural people suffer higher rates of uninsurance and underinsurance, higher rates of chronic disease, and an older and sicker population than the majority of the country.

The letter can be found at http://www.cfra.org/files/cfra-nrha-nfu.pdf

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