Access to primary care is one of the most frequently cited and urgent health problems facing rural populations. Underserved rural communities have a pressing need for primary care services but are increasingly plagued by a dwindling number of providers and institutions, and those who remain regularly lack adequate resources. In many areas, primary care providers are the only enduring source for primary care, behavioral health, social support services, and more.
To further compound care inaccessibility, rural residents often face transportation and mobility barriers, especially in areas that experience harsh winter weather and for people without access to private transportation.
As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), PCDC has financed multiple rural health centers, whose services has allowed their communities to thrive. We advocate for strong policy solutions to address pressing problems and strengthen the health of rural populations.
Our Policy Priorities
IMPROVING RURAL ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE SERVICES
Address barriers to care by expanding rural workforce initiatives, increasing reimbursement, and supporting alternative care delivery options such as telemedicine.
It is imperative to expand the rural primary care workforce by implementing student loan forgiveness, scholarships, or financial aid in return for practicing in a rural community. Equally important is appropriately adjusting reimbursement to adequately compensate rural providers and incentivize them to continue practicing in the communities that need them most.
Expanding the use of telemedicine through increased reimbursement has proven to be a valuable tool in reducing transportation and mobility barriers for rural residents. Physical accessibility may also be addressed through expanded in-home visits for patients with limited mobility and increased funding for programs that provide transportation to and from medical appointments for residents without vehicles.
PROTECTING CAPITAL FINANCING FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES
Defend funding programs that promote greater investment in underserved rural communities.
Programs like the New Markets Tax Credit Program and the Community Reinvestment Act create opportunities to revitalize low- and middle-income communities by providing financial assistance to expand access to primary care. These programs also encourage lending in often overlooked rural communities, whose health care systems greatly benefit from increased capital flow.
Given the transformative potential in rural communities across the country, PCDC advocates for continuously upholding and supporting these critical investment programs.
Using data, scholarly research, and qualitative information from rural health providers, PCDC compiled a comprehensive report on rural access to care in New York State. Through this report, PCDC identified and advocated for policies and strategies lawmakers can use to improve rural access to primary care.