Supporting Rural Health:

Practical Solutions for State Policymakers

Milbank State Leadership Network

Many health care challenges are exacerbated in rural areas, such as limited access to services, provider shortages, and the prevalence of avoidable deaths from chronic disease and substance use disorders. In a new issue brief, Emily Whelan Parento, an O’Neill Institute Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center, summarizes information presented at three Reforming States Group regional meetings of state and federal health officials and health services researchers working on rural health issues.

As Parento highlights, several key themes emerged from these discussions:

  • The importance of health care delivery models that promote and incentivize investment in community health
  • The need for workforce development such as programs to train and retain providers in rural areas, which leverage technology and telehealth options where possible, and
  • The need for ongoing rural health research and policy development.

The brief also profiles several successful and emerging rural health initiatives, offering lessons for other states looking to improve rural health.