Sending Office: Honorable Cheri Bustos
Cosponsors: Reps. Cheri Bustos, Doug LaMalfa, Tom O’Halleran, Jacky Rosen, and John Garamendi
Endorsements: The National Rural Health Association and the National Farmers Union
We urge you to join us in cosponsoring the Rural Health Liaison Act, legislation intended to streamline federal investment in rural health care and improve coordination between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and health care stakeholders.
Health care is projected to create 4 million jobs by 2026, nearly one-third of all new jobs in the next decade. Already, hospitals and health care facilities are emerging as the top employers in rural communities. Despite provider shortages and population
loss, rural health care employment grew 9% from 2001 to 2015. Health care has the promise to drive economic development in rural communities, and our federal investments should support that.
The USDA plays an outsized role in federal rural development efforts. Though often only considered in the context of agriculture, the agency has the capability to finance the construction of hospitals, the implementation of telehealth programs and health
education initiatives. The Rural Health Liaison promotes the awareness and availability of these resources at the USDA. This legislation centralizes expertise within the agency and establishes one point of contact for health-related projects and stakeholders.
The liaison will also support USDA field offices, providing guidance and technical assistance to USDA staff on the frontlines in rural America.
This bill will help formalize coordination between the USDA and other federal agencies on issues related to rural health, namely the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), which supports research centers across
the country and invests millions in rural health policy analysis. A lack of coordination between the USDA and the FORHP is a lost opportunity. As we continue to battle a national opioid epidemic, the relationship between HHS and USDA is especially critical;
programs should complement—not conflict or duplicate—one another.
The Rural Health Liaison is a step towards a “user-friendly” USDA, one that accounts for the modern needs of rural America. If you have any questions or would like to become a cosponsor, please contact Steffanie Bezruki at Steffanie.Bezruki@mail.house.gov or
Member of Congress
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