WIUM Tristates Public Radio

National Rural Health Day

Nov 16, 2012

Advocates say National Rural Health Day provides them with an opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges associated with receiving proper care in the smallest of communities.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health estimates that 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, but only 9% of all physicians work in these areas.

Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who heads the Iowa Department of Public Health, says convincing doctors to work in rural areas can be difficult.

“Especially as we move forward with the Affordable Care Act, which will increase access but there are not provisions to increase the provider network,” said Dr. Miller-Meeks.

She says incentives and loan repayments serve as recruitment tools for rural physicians in Iowa.

Dr. Miller-Meeks says National Rural Health Day also provides an opportunity to lobby Congress to equalize Medicare reimbursements so rural states are on par with more populated states.

She says Iowa ranks high in quality of care but low in actual reimbursements.

Thursday, Nov. 15 marked the 2nd National Rural Health Day.