Rural health leaders in Indiana want more legislative support for rural hospitals and communities. The Indiana Rural Health Association presented its advocacy priorities at a recent policy forum.
Dan Hardesty, director of government affairs for the Indiana Rural Health Association, said the organization has three priorities for rural communities: access to basic health care services; sustaining and expanding the health workforce; and investing in the sustainability of the broader community.
Hardesty said rural communities need state officials to see how losing obstetrics, mental health and emergency services impacts rural communities.
“This is not a problem that we're going to solve overnight,” Hardesty said. “It's just one of those things that we need to continue to educate policymakers on these barriers. And the best way to do that is to hear directly from you.”
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Other rural health leaders said problems with physician recruitment have made it difficult to maintain these services. Hardesty said one part of these priorities is making sure there are opportunities for people to get medical training in rural communities.
“The data shows that if you train in a rural area, you're more likely to stay in a rural area,” Hardesty said. “And better yet, if you're from that rural area, you're probably going to stay there.”
Hardesty said investing in rural communities supports the health of people in rural Indiana, but also creates spaces where people in the health care industry want to live and work.
“We want to make sure that rural communities continue to be vibrant, especially in Indiana, and that they're able to attract talent and that people are able to raise their families and receive health care services,” he said.
The National Rural Health Association also presented its policy priorities at the event. Its focus is on building the workforce, addressing health equity, and investing in a strong safety net in rural communities.
Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.