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AAMC Responds to Congressional RFI on Rural Health

December 12, 2019

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Len Marquez, Senior Director, Government Relations
Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

The AAMC Dec. 6 responded to a request for information (RFI) issued by the Rural and Underserved Communities Task Force. The RFI was issued by Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and task force co-chairs Reps. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas). The purpose of the RFI was to solicit input “on priority topics that affect health status and outcomes for consideration and discussion in future Member sessions of the Task Force.”

The AAMC letter highlighted a desire to continue to be a part of the ongoing dialogue around improving the health of rural and underserved communities. The letter noted, “Inequities in health result from causes across various levels and systems: Genetics, biology, individual behavior, the built environment, and social and economic factors all contribute to the health gaps endemic in the United States. These disparities are particularly persistent in certain underserved populations such as racial/ethnic subgroups, the elderly, veterans, individuals from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, and rural populations.” The letter also discussed the impacts of the physician shortage on these communities, and the importance of increasing the number of physicians who can practice in rural areas by “ending the 20-plus year freeze on Medicare support for graduate medical education (GME).”

The AAMC response answered all 10 questions proposed by the RFI, covering a broad range of services, programs, and initiatives that academic medicine is involved in to improve rural health. In particular, the AAMC emphasized that many “academic health centers partner with community-based organizations to address social determinants of health such as transportation, housing stability, and food insecurity.” The AAMC also highlighted the importance of private and federal pipeline programs in addressing workforce challenges because they are able to recruit individuals who are more likely to practice in rural settings.

The task force indicated that they will use the RFI responses to “support our members’ work identifying the causes of health care disparities and developing strategies to close gaps in care that exist between certain communities.”

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