March 16. 2010 — As Congress tackles healthcare reform, the New England Rural Health RoundTable (NERHRT) urges legislators to act, but also to keep the unique nature of rural areas in mind. Marion Pawlek, NERHRT’s Executive Director says, “Our organization supports the President’s goals for reform of the healthcare system but we caution Congress that New England’s rural communities have special concerns.” Pawlek highlights these:

• Rural areas have higher rates of uninsurance and poverty
• Rural areas rely more heavily on subsidized public programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Programs)
• Many rural areas have an older population with higher healthcare needs
• Rural areas may have a limited number of both insurers and providers

Key points of NERHRT’s “message to Congress” on healthcare legislation:

• Expand insurance options so that individuals and small employers in rural areas can get coverage at reasonable cost
• Assure that insurers participating in ‘Exchange’ programs be compelled to contract with the limited pool of providers in rural communities
• Avoid provisions such as high ‘age rating’ ratios that would impact the sub-Medicare elderly in rural areas
• Include provisions to support the rural provider workforce (insurance is only part of the problem of access to care in rural areas)

For the detailed NERHRT Policy statement on healthcare reform, go to:

The New England Rural Health RoundTable is a non-profit advocacy organization with members in the six state region stretching from the Canadian border to the shores of Long Island Sound. Its headquarters are in Lebanon, NH.

Contact: Marion J. Pawlek, Executive Director
New England Rural Health RoundTable
[email protected]