Reforming States Group Publication

Supporting Rural Health:

Practical Solutions for State Policymakers

May 28, 2019 | Emily Whelan Parento

Program:  Reforming States Group

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. These trends are significant enough to affect overall health status measures for the nation, while deeply affecting these communities.

This issue brief summarizes information presented at three Milbank Memorial Fund-supported regional meetings of federal and state health officials and health services researchers working on rural health issues. 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 the development of programs to train and retain providers in rural areas, which include leveraging technology and telehealth options where possible, and
  • The need for ongoing research and policy development specifically directed toward rural health.

The case studies summarized in this issue brief shed light on successful models for each of these key themes, with the intent of shaping state health policy across the country.