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Rural Health

Rural Americans face numerous health disparities compared with their urban counterparts. More than 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the U.S. population, live in rural areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Rural Americans are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than their urban counterparts. Unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas, partly due to greater risk of death from motor vehicle crashes and opioid overdoses. In general, residents of rural areas in the United States tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts. These challenges highlight the need for additional attention and resources aimed at improving health in rural America. Rural areas could benefit from improved public health programs that support healthier behaviors and neighborhoods, and better access to healthcare services.

Resources and Information

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SPARC (Specialty Physicians
Advancing Rural Care) Act

H.R. 2761 - Representative John Joyce (R-PA) 

  • Introduced on 4/20/23

  • 6 Co-Sponsors as of 8/4/23

S. 705 - Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) 

  • Introduced on 3/8/23

  • 1 Co-Sponsor as of 8/4/23

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Description

This bill would: 

  • Expand access to healthcare services by addressing the shortage of physicians in rural communities. 

  • Establish a student loan repayment program to incentivize healthcare specialists to practice in rural and underserved areas. Under this program, any health care provider participating would agree to a 6-year commitment to full-time employment in communities experiencing a shortage of such providers. 

Status

  • The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. 

Contact

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