Throughout the month of November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) is recognizing National Rural Health Day, November 18, and highlighting the unique health needs of rural communities.
Despite comprising the vast majority of the land area in the U.S., rural areas only contain about 19% of the U.S. population (or approximately 60 million people). People who live in America’s rural areas face unique barriers to health care – including longer travel distances to receive care, a shortage of health care providers, lack of broadband internet access, etc. These can contribute to worse health outcomes for this population. In comparison to their people in urban communities, people who live in rural America are at a greater risk of death from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke. Black, Asian or Pacific Islander, White, and Hispanic populations that live in rural areas have also been shown to receive generally worse results for clinical care.
Existing health disparities can also be seen in COVID-19 vaccination rates between those who live in rural areas and those who live in urban areas. While 46% of adults in urban communities received their COVID-19 vaccine between December 2020 and April 2021, only 39% of adults living in rural areas were vaccinated during that same time period.
During November, we’re placing a spotlight on the work being done within CMS OMH and across all federal agencies to help address these disparities. Below are resources that you can share to help improve the health of rural Americans.
COVID-19 Vaccine Webinar for Rural Communities
On Monday, November 15, CMS OMH, along with representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will host a webinar to discuss federal COVID-19 resources, health care workforce mandates, health care coverage related to the COVID-19 vaccine, and more.
- Date: Monday, November 15
- Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET
- To register: Click here for the registration page
- Read the Rural-Urban Disparities in Health Care in Medicare Report to learn about differences in rural-urban health care experiences and clinical care received nationally. The report shows differences in quality of care provided according to race and ethnicity.
- Review the Rural Health Strategy to learn how CMS is applying a rural lens to agency activities and informing the agency’s path to achieving its rural health vision through intra-agency collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and the elevation of programs and policies that will advance the state of rural health care in America.
- Download the Rural Crosswalk: CMS Flexibilities to Fight COVID-19, which highlights COVID-19 provisions that CMS has issued by regulation or waiver. These provisions impact rural health care facilities and remain key for providers who serve rural communities.
- Read the report Trends in Racial, Ethnic, Sex, and Rural-Urban Inequities in Health Care in Medicare Advantage: November 2020.
- Download and share the Rural Health Strategy: 5 Key Objectives, which outlines five key objectives that aim to help rural health providers advance health care quality for patients.
- View the Data Highlight: Understanding Rural Hospital Bypass Among Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Beneficiaries in 2018 to learn the extent to which Medicare beneficiaries who live in rural areas bypass their nearest rural hospital, as well as what hospital services rural Medicare beneficiaries most often seek locally and at distant hospitals.
- Review the Community Health Access and Rural Health Transformation (CHART) Model, through which CMS aims to continue addressing disparities by providing a way for rural communities to transform their health care delivery systems. This can be accomplished by leveraging innovative financial arrangements, as well as through operational and regulatory flexibilities. You can also view the CHART Model overview webinar here.
- Visit the Rural Maternal Health webpage to find resources related to improving maternal health outcomes in rural communities.
CMS recognizes that more than 57 million Americans live in rural areas, and face several unique challenges. And those challenges can differ dramatically among the different kinds of rural areas across the country. Rural residents tend to be older and in poorer health than their urban counterparts, and rural communities often face challenges with access to care, financial viability, and the important link between health care and economic development.
Contact RuralHealth@cms.hhs.gov for any questions or inquiries related to rural health policies and programs.