HHS releases Rural Action Plan

Sept. 8, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released its Rural Action Plan, which the department said it is the first HHS-wide assessment of rural healthcare efforts in more than 18 years, according to a press release.

The plan is the product of the department's Rural Task Force, a group of experts and leaders across the department first put together by Secretary Alex Azar in 2019.

The Rural Action Plan examines the key challenges facing rural communities related to issues such as emerging health disparities, chronic disease burden, high rates of maternal mortality and limited access to mental health services. The plan lays out a four-point strategy to transform rural health and human services, with a number of actions that can be launched within weeks or months. The four points of the strategy are:

·        Building a sustainable health and human services model for rural communities

·         Leveraging technology and innovation

·         Focusing on preventing disease and mortality

·         Increasing rural access to care

This action plan provides a roadmap for HHS to strengthen departmental coordination to better serve the millions of Americans who live in rural communities across the United States. Eighteen HHS agencies and offices took part in developing the plan, which includes 71 new or expanded activities for FY 2020 and beyond. Efforts that will be undertaken in FY 2020 include nine new rural-focused administrative or regulatory actions, three new rural-focused technical assistance efforts, 14 new rural research efforts, and five new rural program efforts. These efforts build on 94 new rural-focused projects the HHS Rural Task Force identified as having launched over the past three years.

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