Recognizing National Rural Health Day

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) celebrates National Rural Health Day. Leaders are recognized across the country working to ensure access to high quality care for over 60 million Americans living in rural communities. National Rural Health Day is the third Thursday of every November. It recognizes the efforts of rural providers, communities, organizations, state offices of rural health, as well as others dedicated to addressing the unique health care needs of rural America. 

“Rural Americans face unique and persistent challenges in accessing high-quality health care.  Nobody should have to drive hours to see a doctor for maternal care or have to go without necessary treatment for opioid addiction,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today, on National Rural Health Day, it is important to recommit ourselves to addressing these issues. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to meaningfully invest in the health care workforce, mental health care services, substance use disorder treatment, and maternal health care that rural Americans deserve. HHS has taken major strides in supporting rural health care, but there is still more work to do as we work to lower health care costs, increase access to care and keep rural Americans healthy.”

“Everyone deserves access to safe, quality health care no matter where they live,” HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson also said. “Today, on National Rural Health Day, we at the Health Resources and Services Administration affirm our commitment to promoting the health of rural residents, including through our continued investments in programs that support providing primary care and behavioral health services, growing and sustaining the workforce, and enhancing maternal and infant health in rural communities across the country.”

Many of HRSA’s programs play an essential role in supporting rural health:

  • Nearly 10 million rural residents rely on a health center as their source of care;
  • The Home Visiting Program serves more than 600 rural counties; and
  • 7,400 National Health Service Corps providers who provide care to rural patients.

HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) provided approximately $335 million to increase health care access, strengthen health networks, and also focus on quality improvements for Critical Access Hospitals and small rural hospitals. This includes, $173 million in Fiscal Year 2023 awarded to:  

  • Beat the opioid epidemic in rural communities: HRSA awarded $90 million to support rural behavioral health care services, including substance use disorder prevention as well as recovery activities through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. These investments build on HRSA’s steadfast commitment to expand access to treatment and create recovery pathways to prevent overdose, which to date have served over 4 million people in 1,900 rural counties.
  • Respond to the persistent rural workforce shortages: FORHP invested almost $65 million to increase the rural workforce in critical areas of need.  FORHP awarded over $9 million to create new rural residency programs to place more medical school graduates in rural areas, building a pipeline of qualified doctors who stay to practice in rural communities. To date, 38 programs have achieved accreditation and are projected to create over 500 residency positions. Lastly,  recognizing the critical role nurses play in providing primary care, mental health and maternal health care services, particularly in rural areas, HRSA announced more than $100 million in awards to address the increasing demand for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and nurse faculty.
  • Reduce disparities in maternal and birth outcomes: FORHP invested almost $9 million to continue building networks in rural communities in order to strengthen pre-natal, delivery and post-pregnancy support services, in which nearly 5,000 rural moms have benefitted.