Last week Roderick Campbell, Vice-Chair of NACHC’s Rural Health Committee and CEO of the Iberia Comprehensive Community Health Center in New Iberia, Louisiana, participated in a stakeholder meeting with the White House Rural Council. The Council, led by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, was established in 2011 by President Obama to “address challenges in Rural America, build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy.” The meeting focused specially on rural health and Mr. Campbell was one of approximately 40 stakeholders invited to participate.
The meeting was broken into two sessions. First, the participants met with Secretary Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, as well as HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Mary Beth Skupien, Director of the VA Office of Rural Health and Doug O’Brien, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the USDA. Participants had an opportunity to learn more about the Council’s work and the focus on improving health care and then to share their concerns with the Secretaries and staff. Mr. Campbell encouraged the Administration officials to consider access issues as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act continues, especially in 2014 as many become newly eligible for Medicaid and the Exchanges. Both Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Vilsack were aware of this issue and assured the group this is something they are working on to ensure access issues are addressed. The second session was a listening session with individuals from HHS and CMS and participants had an opportunity to address rural issues they are seeing on the ground and potential solutions. Participants raised questions concerning demonstrations from the CMS Center for Innovations, current CMS regulations, and other issues affecting rural providers.
HRSA’s Office of Rural Health is seeking feedback on the meeting and NACHC will be providing specific information on issues affecting health centers.
For more, check out Mr. Campbell’s interview with the Baton Rouge NPR station on the meeting.