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Securing A Healthy Future For Rural America

Where you live should not determine how healthy you are or how long you live. Winning the next 40 years means making sure every American is able to thrive.

It is time to break with the politics of the past and usher in a new era for rural America.

Rural communities help sustain our country and propel our economy. Yet rural Americans are getting sicker and dying younger than people living in cities. That is wrong. Not just because where you live shouldn’t dictate how long you live, but because when we fail one part of our country, we fail our whole country.

It hasn’t always been this way. In the early 1980s, rural Americans could expect to live as long as Americans living in cities. Since then, our leaders have too often overlooked and underinvested in rural America. Today, the gap between rural and urban life expectancy is at its widest point in at least half a century.

We need to lift rural communities up as places of opportunity, both for this generation and future ones. That work begins by deploying investment and innovation to secure the health of all rural residents, whether that’s a veteran struggling with mental health challenges or a Native woman giving birth.

quotation marksWe need to lift rural communities up as places of opportunity, both for this generation and future ones.
Pete-County-Democrats

Pete’s rural health policies will:

Guarantee an affordable health insurance option through Medicare For All Who Want It.

  • Strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and protect it from Republican attacks. 
  • Implement Medicare For All Who Want It. 
  • Increase and expand access to federal subsidies for marketplace coverage.

Dramatically reduce care shortages in rural areas by training more doctors, nurses, and other medical providers—with an emphasis on primary care, maternal care, mental health, and addiction providers.

  • Expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program beyond government- and not-for-profit- based employment to include employment in rural private hospitals and practice groups. 
  • Encourage immigrant doctors to work in rural communities by expanding the Conrad 30 waiver program. 
  • Increase Medicare reimbursement rates—and encourage states to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates—for providers working in medically underserved areas. 
  • Expand funding for training models that incentivize medical students and residents to work in rural communities. 
  • Expand community paramedicine programs in rural areas. 

Assure universal access to prevention and treatment for mental illness and addiction, and invest in making communities livable, resilient, and healthy.

  • Prioritize ensuring universal access to effective treatment, such as therapy and medication to treat opioid addiction, and enforcing mental health parity. 
  • Train communities to address stigma and better support each other through a pillar of Pete’s National Service Plan, the Community Health Corps. These policies, and more, will be fully articulated in a forthcoming mental health and addiction policy plan.

Reduce maternal mortality rates by expanding access to high quality care and support before, during, and after pregnancy.

  • Ensure coverage for and access to the full range of reproductive healthcare and family planning services in rural areas. 
  • Support the Rural MOMS Act. 
  • Support the MOMMA Act, Maternal CARE Act, MOMS Act, and MOMMIES Act.
  • Address closure of obstetric units by reforming payments to providers of maternal care.

Make it easier for patients to be treated at or near their home by investing in telehealth.

  • Massively expand coverage of high-speed broadband Internet across the country.
  • Help health providers purchase and implement the technology necessary to provide telehealth services by doubling funding for the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Health Care Program to $1 billion annually.
  • Ensure that expansion of telehealth services is accompanied by investments in quality of care.
  • Expand the types of care settings that can receive reimbursement for telehealth services. 
  • Allow health professionals to get compensated for virtually treating patients at home, including for annual wellness visits, chronic care management, acute visits, and remote patient monitoring.
  • Make it easier for a doctor in one state to virtually treat a patient in another by amending licensure for virtual care programs.

Support essential health facilities and promote sustainable, tech-forward care models that ensure access to critical health services.

  • Establish a new Rural Emergency Medical Center designation for rural health facilities.
  • Help essential hospitals stay open and focused on the health needs of their communities by expanding testing of innovative models, such as the multi-payer global budget model. 
  • Support new models of care and financing that emphasize tech-forward, multi-disciplinary, team-based outpatient care settings. 

Renew our commitment to Tribal Nations and expand funding for rural health initiatives for veterans

  • Increase funding and support to redress health disparities

Mobilize communities to address the economic and social factors that contribute to poor health and health inequity.

  • Designate and invest in Health Equity Zones, which will receive financial and technical resources to help reduce or eliminate high priority local health disparities. 
  • Work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop pilots for directly reimbursing community-based social interventions to Medicare and Medicaid, such as housing support.
  • Increase funding for our nation’s public health infrastructure.
  • Address food insecurity and obesity by increasing access to healthy food and creating an infrastructure that promotes physical activity.

Expand and increase investment in accessible, sustainable rural transportation services.

  • Improve access to existing rural public transportation options and stimulate the creation of new rural transit hubs.
  • Prioritize universal design, and accessibility, in policy and programs to better accommodate people with chronic physical and/or mental health conditions.
  • Leverage new technologies, such as ridesharing services, to increase transportation access in rural communities.


We’re building a movement to meet this make-or-break moment for rural America and communities across our country. If you’re with us, text HEALTH to 25859.

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