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Rural Health

- December 13, 2019
Can policymakers close the urban-rural divide?
Featured Report

Rural Americans are more likely to die by suicide and from chronic illness than their urban counterparts, and the health gap is widening. Researchers blame a number of factors for the disparity, including escalating rural hospital closures, shortages of doctors, a lack of public transportation and an older, sicker, poorer and less health-literate population than in metropolitan areas. Experts widely agree on what many rural communities need: greater access to broadband and telemedicine; more programs to attract young doctors; increased Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and physicians; improved public transportation; more economic opportunity; and greater flexibility for rural hospitals to enable them to better serve their communities. Many states and counties are creating innovative programs to address these challenges. But rural health stakeholders worry that without concerted action from Congress and from the 14 states that have not expanded Medicaid to all low-income adults, the health gap between rural and urban America will continue to widen.

Congressional Legislation

In the States

The Trump Administration

1980–1997Medicare cuts payments to hospitals, and many rural hospitals close.
2001–2010Rural health care receives additional federal funding.
2011–PresentFunding cuts hurt rural health providers.

Should states license dental therapists to try to reduce the dental care shortage in rural America?


Jane Koppelman
Senior Manager, Pew Charitable Trusts Dental Campaign.


Jane Grover, D.D.S.
Director, Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, American Dental Association.


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