(Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Cathy McMorris (WA-05) today supported the passage of the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Conference Report. She spoke on the House floor in support of this bill that includes additional funding for several key rural health programs that are important to Eastern Washington.
“One of my top priorities is providing access to quality and affordable health care,” said McMorris. “Much of Eastern Washington is rural, creating a challenge for those who do not live near a health center, such as Spokane. We must have legislation that strengthens Eastern Washington’s rural health infrastructure, recruits and train physicians to practice in rural areas and continues to find long-term solutions to meet rural health care needs.”
McMorris has been a leader in providing access to rural health care and sponsored legislation that establishes demonstration programs to address the shortages of health care professionals in rural areas. The program allows students to receive their training from rural clinics and provides incentives for residents to practice in rural areas where health care professionals are needed.
Rural health highlights in the Labor HHS bill include:
Area of Health Education Centers – Area Health Education centers will receive $29 million in funding. These centers provide education and training to health care professionals in community settings while encouraging them to work in rural areas.
Medical Training – The bill increases funding for programs that encourage training and expand education opportunities for current and future health care professionals. Primary Care and Dentistry will receive $41 million. Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students will receive $47 million.
Office of Rural Health Research and Policy – The bill restores $9 million in funding for the office of Rural Health Research and Policy provides information to rural communities and represents a united voice for Rural America.
Rural Health Outreach Grants– This program is one of the few that is focused on providing targeted, flexible resources to support innovative rural health solutions in communities across the country. Rural Health Outreach Grants received $40 million in funding this year.
Community Health Centers – Community Health Centers, which offer numerous health care services to patients in rural areas, received a $66 million increase in funding this year.