On September 10, a meeting of the White House Rural Council was held. The Rural Council was formed in 2009 by an executive order with an overarching goal to ensure federal agencies are collaborating and sharing efforts to better serve rural America by performing three core functions: 1. Streamline and improve the effectiveness of Federal programs serving rural America, 2. Engage stakeholders on issues and solutions in rural communities, and 3. Promote and coordinate private-sector partnerships. The September 10 meeting had a special focus on expanding access to healthcare in rural communities.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the White House Rural Council, announced two awards with focuses on increasing health IT capabilities in rural America to better healthcare access in those areas. HHS, through its Rural Health Information Technology Program, announced that it will award $4 million to recruit and train IT specialists in rural areas. This award will be presented to 15 organizations across rural America to train and educate more healthcare workers in the technology needed to better recordkeeping and the delivery of remote services. HHS also announced that it will award $900,000 through its Flex Veterans Health Access Program to enhance healthcare services, including mental health, for veterans in rural areas. The award will be made available in three states to increase telehealth and health information technology in an effort to increase accessibility to healthcare, particularly mental healthcare, for veterans in rural areas.
The Rural Council also discussed other ongoing efforts to increase healthcare access to veterans in rural areas in partnership with community programs. The Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot Program through the Department of Veterans Affairs is currently accepting applications with plans to partner with five organizations, for two years each, to reach out to rural veterans and educate them on programs that could help them and their families.
For more information on the Rural Council meeting, see USDA’s blog post. Please visit the White House Rural Council website for further information about the group.
Written by Alyssa Looney – Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
September 11, 2013