WASHINGTON, August 5, 2014 – A report released today by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., highlights the economic importance of keeping rural communities healthy.
Keeping Rural Communities Healthy was published in July by the Joint Economic Committee and shows that rural areas have far less access to medical specialists than urban areas. Urban residents have nearly three times the amount of specialists per 100,000 people as rural residents.
“Healthy rural communities lead to healthy local economies,” Klobuchar said. “Ensuring that rural communities in Minnesota and across the country have access to health care can help boost worker productivity, improve quality of life, and drive economic growth.”
The report also states patients living in rural areas travel greater distances to doctors, with more than 40 percent of rural residents having to travel distances greater than 30 minutes to a hospital.
According to the report, limited access to health care in rural communities can have a negative economic impact because rural areas rely on small businesses and the self-employed more than urban economies. A business that relies on the health of a few workers may be more affected when an employee gets sick than a larger business. Employers may also take access to health services into consideration when deciding where to locate their businesses.
The report outlines key policy priorities to improve access to health care such as protecting the Critical Access Hospital program, funding programs that attract doctors to rural areas and expanding telehealth programs.
“This report makes clear that improving rural Americans’ access to affordable, quality health care is the right thing to do for rural communities and for our economy,” Klobuchar said.
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