The rapid spread of the new coronavirus has awakened the nation to the dire access problems that have long plagued rural communities and has underscored the need for immediate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of the rural health care system, in which hundreds of hospitals have already closed or are in imminent risk of folding. The pandemic now threatens to heap additional financial pressures onto these hospitals, leaving millions in fear that they won’t receive care. COVID-19 prompted a flurry of legislative and regulatory action in early 2020, marking the first important steps in addressing access to care through telehealth. Some of these actions align with recommendations in this report. However, these measures were generally limited to temporary fixes, while the problems need long-term attention.
Confronting Rural America’s Health Care Crisis