Fed Pledges to Rural Providers Strike the Right Notes

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 6, 2013

So what can the rest of us in "the flyover" make of all of this outreach?

It appears to be well-intentioned and sincere. Why would it be otherwise? Sebelius and Vilsack are former governors of largely rural Midwestern states, and they know firsthand the lay of the land.

And fortunately, improving quality and access for rural healthcare appears to be one issue that Republicans and Democrats embrace enthusiastically. They understand that healthcare providers fill critical access needs, create jobs, and generate economic activity.

CMS says it wants feedback from rural providers on the proposed rules changes during the 60-day public comment period. Now is the chance for those providers to step up and help shape federal rural healthcare policy.

It's easy to get cynical about all of this and just assume that the Obama administration is just playing politics or that the federal government will ignore recommendations and screw things up. Admittedly, federal healthcare policy can be hard to defend.

It's a lot tougher, however, to weigh in with thoughtful suggestions about how we can improve healthcare delivery in rural America. The stakes in this game are too high to sit on the sidelines. Make sure that CMS hears from you.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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