Finkenauer Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing National Rural Health Day

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) introduced the bipartisan 2020 National Rural Health Day resolution on Thursday to ensure National Rural Health Day is recognized by Congress this year.

National Rural Health Day was established to emphasize the importance of rural America and recognize the efforts and contributions to address the unique challenges of providing affordable, accessible health care in rural places.

National Rural Health Day is celebrated annually on the third Thursday of November, which this year is November 19.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities –– families all over the country are living through an incredibly difficult and worrisome time when it comes to their health,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. “In our rural communities, the pandemic presents even greater challenges to the rural health systems that were stressed long before the arrival of COVID-19. The 2020 National Rural Health Day resolution is a chance to honor our amazing rural health care providers and affirm Congress’ commitment to working on policy that will ensure affordable and quality health care in rural Iowa and all of rural America.”

Original cosponsors of the 2020 National Rural Health Day resolution are: Bob Latta (R-OH), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Tom Cole (R-OK), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Ron Kind (D-WI), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Xochitl Torres-Small (D-NM), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), TJ Cox (D-CA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Mike Bost (R-IL), Angie Craig (D-MN), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Van Taylor (R-TX), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Don Young (R-AK), Fred Keller (R-PA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), and Collin Peterson (D-MN).

The 2020 National Rural Health Day resolution is supported by: American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Federation of American Hospitals, Genesis Health System, Gundersen Health System, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa Rural Health Association, Marshfield Clinic Health System, MercyOne, National Association of Counties, National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, National Rural Health Association, UnityPoint Health System

Support for the 2020 National Rural Health Day resolution:

“Rural hospitals must overcome many obstacles to meet the health care needs of their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a bright light on challenges facing rural hospitals and the need for additional support.  These facilities are often the sole care giver in their community and face unique issues, ranging from difficult geography and dangerous weather to an aging, at risk patient population.  We appreciate Rep. Finkenauer introducing this resolution to put an exclamation point on the need for more support for the vital role rural hospitals play in the health care of millions of Americans.”

— Chip Kahn, President and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals.

“At Gundersen Health System, we know better patient connections to our providers and services removes barriers to healthcare in rural areas. Locations closer to home, new virtual care options, and services to manage patients’ care at home are all part of our system’s focus on eliminating healthcare barriers. Congresswoman Finkenauer’s resolution inspires further awareness and work on rural health care.”

­­Patrice Kuennen, Administrator of Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital & Clinics (West Union, Iowa)

“Rural health care providers are an asset to the communities they serve, providing access to a broad spectrum of high quality, essential health care services every day. Iowans know the critical importance of these providers and IHA is proud to stand with them by recognizing National Rural Health Day.”

— Kirk Norris, President and CEO of the Iowa Hospital Association

“Rural Iowa faces significant and growing health access issues, which the COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified. In many corners of our state, patients must travel long distances for even basic medical care and the ongoing pandemic has forced many rural facilities to begin contemplating difficult decisions regarding the services they are able to continue to provide. We must do more to support rural practices and rural provider recruitment efforts. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to reflect upon the challenges facing rural America and the opportunities to address them. This includes common-sense measures like expansion of the successful Conrad 30 program to aid in physician recruitment efforts, increased support for telehealth infrastructure and services, and at long last taking action to address the Geographic Practice Cost Index that arbitrarily and unfairly reduces Medicare payment rates for practices in rural communities. We thank Congresswoman Finkenauer for her continued commitment to rural healthcare and helping to bring greater attention to this important issue.”

— Brian Privett, MD, President of the Iowa Medical Society

“The Iowa Rural Health Association is pleased to support Rep. Finkenauer’s resolution in support of National Rural Health Day.  It’s an opportunity every year to draw attention to the importance of rural health and those who care for residents of small towns and unincorporated areas.  That’s especially important right now as access is affected by declining numbers of hospitals, clinics and health care professionals in rural America.”

— Bill Menner, Executive Director of the Iowa Rural Health Association

“The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the fact that, as a country, our rural health care system is broken, and patients are the ones who suffer as a result. Despite major challenges, every day countless rural care providers go to work committed to serving those in need. These heroes make a difference in the lives of patients and families that is immeasurable. Investing in rural health care is investing in the future of rural America. I applaud Rep. Finkenauer and her colleagues for recognizing the crucial role health care plays in the vitality of rural communities across the country. Ensuring access to high-quality health care, no matter where patients live, will help rural communities and their residents grow and thrive.”

— Dr. Susan Turney, MD, CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System

“We thank Congresswoman Finkenauer and her staff for the continued work they have done on the issue of rural health. It is our hope that National Rural Health Day highlights the importance and innovation in rural health and we look forward to working alongside the Congresswoman to ensure rural health remains a priority in Congress throughout the year.”

— Teryl Eisinger, CEO of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health

“NRHA applauds Representative Finkenauer for leading the introduction of the Resolution Supporting National Rural Health Day. The COVID-19 public health emergency has underscored the need for a strong, stable health care system—especially in rural America. This resolution shines a light on the need for greater parity between urban and rural health care and for continued relief and support to be provided to rural America.”

— Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association

“UnityPoint Health is proud to support Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer’s resolution honoring National Rural Health Day. UnityPoint Health has a longstanding commitment to providing quality health care in rural communities where families trust us with their health care needs. In addition to our hospitals, rural health clinics and home health agencies, we also use technology to ensure all Iowans have access to visit a provider using telehealth or connect with a psychiatrist over the phone, regardless of where they live. This resolution expresses a commitment to advancing policy to improve health care accessibility and affordability in rural parts of the country, and UnityPoint Health shares that goal.”

— Cathy Simmons, Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs at UnityPoint Health