WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Susie Lee (D-NV), Dave Joyce (R-OH), and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) introduced the Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Areas Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide additional support for primary care providers in rural and underserved areas through accredited continuing medical education and clinical support.
“Far too often, Americans living in rural and underserved communities across the country are unable to access quality specialized care, and the nationwide physician shortage has only compounded this public health emergency,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan legislation will ensure that primary care providers in rural and hard to reach areas are equipped with the training and resources required to provide comprehensive care by enhancing continuing medical education in areas reflective of their communities’ health needs.”
“Nevada, like much of the country, is facing a dire doctor shortage,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “This means that many families go without the care they need due to the lack of specialists in their area. In fact, more than 83 million Americans live in areas that have been designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, and, what’s worse, all 17 counties in Nevada have some type of Health Professional Shortage Area designation because of our low ratio of providers to population. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to provide additional support for primary care providers in rural and underserved areas through accredited continuing medical education and peer-to-peer clinical support.”
“All Americans should have access to the medical care they need, no matter where they live,” said Rep. Joyce, Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “Unfortunately, those who live in rural communities often struggle to access affordable, quality health care. That’s why I’m proud to join Representative Susie Lee in introducing the Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Areas Act. Where you live should not be a barrier to receiving quality medical care. Our bipartisan bill will support health centers, clinics and other providers in rural areas across the country, and ensure the Americans they serve have access to the high quality medical professionals they deserve.”
"Far too often, I hear from Arizonans who must travel hundreds of miles to receive even basic medical care—let alone see a specialist,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “I’m proud to support commonsense legislation that will address health care disparities in rural areas and ensure the hardworking providers in these facilities have the resources and training they need to keep serving our communities."
BACKGROUND: Over 83 million Americans live in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). The bill provides additional support for primary care providers in rural and underserved areas through accredited continuing medical education (CME) and peer-to-peer clinical support. This bill would create a five-year pilot program that provides a funding opportunity for up to 100 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics to boost capacity in specific areas of medical need within their communities, enhancing skills in these areas and expanding access to care.
The legislation is supported by the following organizations:
- ACCME- Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM)
- Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
- CME Coalition
- Families USA
- National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH)
- National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
- National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD)
- National Association of Rural Health Clinics
- National Rural Health Association
- OCHIN (formerly Oregon Community Health Information Network)
You can read more about the Bipartisan Improving Access to Health Care in Rural and Underserved Areas Act here.