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CMS Administrator’s Remarks at the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Conference

June 20, 2019

The CMS administrator, Seema Verma, spoke at the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Meeting in May. Seema shared that CMS is committed to partnering with the rural health community to improve access and quality of care through the Rethinking Rural Health Initiative.

During her remarks, Seema provided several statistics speaking to the challenges that providers, hospitals and patients face.

  • 43% of heart disease deaths in rural communities are preventable compared to 30% in urban communities
  • More than 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors since 2010
  • 40% of rural hospitals are in the red

Despite the alarming statistics, she shared several stories of hope and innovation. Seema mentioned West Virginia Medicine’s use of home monitoring technology to reduce admissions. She also mentioned a Kearny County Hospital’s partnership with the University of Kansas School of Medicine to provide better care for high risk pregnancies and to create virtual support programs for pregnant women.

Seema also spoke to an initiative to improve maternal health and reduce deaths due to pregnancy complications. She discussed the role CMS plays in this issue and their commitment to improving care for women in rural communities. Another issue she addressed was the cost of prescription drugs to ensure patients in rural communities have the access to affordable, high quality medicines.

Seema spoke to the need to to advance the use of technology by expanding the use of telehealth including the infrastructure needed to support it. Part of that expansion would also include covering more services and advancing payment policies. While technology will help solve part of the issues, Seema reminded those in attendance that technology alone will not solve the rural health crisis.

The remarks were ended by emphasizing the commitment CMS has made through their Rethinking Rural Health Initiative to help improve the quality and access to care for all Americans living in rural communities.

To read Seema Verma’s full remarks, click here.

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