Rural America and Health Care Reform

The 111th Congress is poised to take up the debate over health care reform in earnest. Rural Americans face unique challenges in our current health care system. And any health care reform legislation will need to address these challenges if Congress hopes to fulfill the promise of making the health care system fair and equitable to all.
For rural America, health care reform is not only a matter of justice, but also crucial to rural economic revitalization and the creation of economic opportunity in rural America. The rural economy is based on self-employment and small business development to a far greater extent than in urban centers.  Owner-operated farms, ranches and small businesses dominate the rural economy.  As a result, rural people are more often under-insured, more dependent on the individual insurance market and paying more for less coverage.
 
As health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical expenses rise, more small businesses drop unaffordable coverage for themselves and their employees.  This threatens the well being and quality of life of rural residents, as well as the economic vitality of their communities.  Rural economic development efforts are hampered by the risk that entrepreneurs face in leaving employment with health care benefits to start up their own business, forcing them to navigate the turbulent market for individual health care coverage alone.
 
Congress must craft legislation that provides additional, equitable options to small business and the self-employed for comprehensive, affordable coverage. You can find out more and sign the Center's health care reform petition at www.cfra.org.

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