Subcommittee Reviews State of Health Care in Rural Areas

Jul 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development and Foreign Agriculture held a hearing to review the state of health care in rural areas and the role of federal programs in addressing rural health care needs.  Congressman Mike McIntyre of North Carolina is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

“As former co-chairman of the Rural Health Care Coalition, I have long been concerned about whether rural people have adequate access to quality health care,” said Chairman McIntyre.  “Despite the numerous federal programs designed to help, the transportation, geographic, and staffing challenges are all too well known by Members of this Committee who serve rural areas.  With limited dollars available for rural health care programs, we must ensure they are used in ways that address the challenges and with sufficient federal coordination.”

“Rural Americans face unique challenges in getting quality healthcare services—most notably the physical and financial strain of traveling long distances,” said Ranking Committee Republican Robin Hayes of North Carolina.  “That is why it is imperative that we have USDA’s many rural development grant and loan programs to help sustain the quality of health care and economic development in rural communities.  We must continue to do all we can at the federal level to make sure effective programs and resources are in place to maintain and improve access to quality health care in rural areas for the future.”

The Agriculture Department and the Health and Human Services Department both operate a number of different programs that provide funding for rural health care needs.  Representatives of both agencies testified before the Subcommittee.  A second panel presented testimony about the general state of rural health care and the challenges associated with providing adequate care in rural areas

A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.


Panel I

  • The Honorable Thomas Dorr, Under Secretary. Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Tom Morris, Acting Associate Administrator, Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, MD

Panel II

  • Mr. Charles W. Fluharty, President Emeritus and Director of Policy Programs, Rural Policy Research Institute, Truman School of Public Affairs, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, MO
  • Dr. Wayne Myers, M.D., Trustee, Maine Health Access Foundation, on behalf of
    National Rural Health Association (NRHA), Waldoboro, ME
  • Mr. Jeff Spade, Vice President. North Carolina Hospital Association, and Executive Director, North Carolina Rural Health Center. Cary, NC
  • Dr. Karen Rheuban, Professor of Pediatrics, Senior Associate Dean for External Affairs and Continuing Medical Education, Medical Director, Office of Telemedicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA