Access to high-quality health care, including both preventive and sick care, is a crucial component of living a healthy life—and every North Carolinian deserves access to quality care, regardless of socioeconomic status, zip code, ability, or any other factor. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance that local hospitals have in rural communities, as well as the need for expanded telehealth services in underserved areas. Furthermore, virtual access to health providers does not and should not supersede the clear gap in access to a variety of healthcare providers within our rural communities. While there are clear challenges here, our state has made steady strides in the right direction. Together, we must continue to do our part to support the health of our communities
Policy Recommendations: Stabilize and Transform Rural Health
…to forge healthy rural communities, healthcare systems, workers, and local economies for generations to come.
- Close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina to ensure healthier, more economically viable communities.
- Expand funding and efforts to recruit and retain a diverse rural healthcare workforce, including specialists in underserved areas of the state.
- Advance legislation to attract and retain mid-level healthcare providers to rural areas by allowing full practice authority and increasing scope of practice.
- Address access-to-care barriers for standard, telehealth, and behavioral health care services and advance coverage parity efforts.
- Advance broad-based solutions for mental health and substance use disorders that address both prevention and treatment.
- Explore opportunities to fund and expand the establishment, operation, and evaluation of community violence intervention (CVI) programs in rural hospitals and community outreach organizations as a public health response to interrupt cycles of community violence, especially in rural areas.
- Support the Healthy North Carolina 2030 attainment goals that seek to holistically address and improve the health, safety, and well-being of North Carolinians by addressing the social determinants of health.