5 ways to fix rural healthcare: AMA

Declining physician pay and administrative burdens are worsening the rural healthcare crisis, according to a June 6 article on the American Medical Association website.

A report by the CDC showed that residents of rural areas spend more of their lives sick and die younger than urban residents. Issues such as prior authorization, decreasing reimbursements from payers and rising levels of burnout among clinicians are making care more difficult to access in rural communities, Bruce Scott, MD, president-elect of the AMA, said at the National Rural Health Association Annual Conference in New Orleans.

"We need Congress, we need the media, to understand that rural healthcare is American healthcare and we need to fix the situation before it's too late," Dr. Scott said.

Here are five strategies that have the potential to improve rural healthcare access, according to Dr. Scott:

1. Adjust Medicare payments based on inflation.

2. Eliminate administrative burdens such as prior authorizations to lessen burnout and early retirement among physicians.

3. Create legislation to strengthen the physician workforce, such as expanding residency programs and graduate medical education programs, as well as incentivizing physicians to work in rural communities.

4. Permanently remove telehealth restrictions.

5. Invest in health outreach and education to rebuild trust in healthcare professionals and raise awareness around chronic conditions.

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