Rep. Diana Harshbarger Marks Successful Kickoff Event of the Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last week, the Chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus, Representative Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) and Representative Jill Tokuda (D-HI), held a kick-off event marking its formal launch. The event received wide participation, including caucus members Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV), Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-OR), Rep. Nikki Budzinski (D-IL), Rep. James C. Moylan (R-GU), and Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM).

The event also featured remarks by Carrie Cochran-McClain, Chief Policy Officer of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

“As a community pharmacist in East Tennessee for over 30 years, I understand the health care issues faced by rural communities,” said Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger. “I was proud to join my fellow co-chair, Representative Jill Tokuda, and our congressional colleagues to highlight the needs of patients and health care professionals in rural and remote areas. I look forward to working with my counterparts to address issues such as workforce shortages, medical supply scarcities, limited access to care, and other health care challenges to improve patient outcomes.”

“Republicans and Democrats from across the country came together to share health care issues impacting their districts,” said Representative Jill Tokuda (HI-02). “From increasing mental health needs to expanding broadband to support telehealth and addressing provider shortages, it’s clear that while our districts vary in location and demographic, we are united in the fight to improve health care access. We agree that Congress must do more to target resources to address the health disparities in rural and remote communities. I am proud to co-lead the Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus with my esteemed colleague, Rep. Harshbarger, and look forward to continuing this important work together.”

“The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) applauds Representatives Tokuda and Harshbarger for relaunching the Congressional Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus, and for all the participating members for their advocacy on rural health issues. The Caucus will be a great opportunity to bring critical issues facing rural providers and patients to the forefront and develop solutions. NRHA is excited to work closely with the Rural Health Caucus and advance rural health priorities in Congress,” said Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association.

“Having spent nearly 30 years in health care before coming to Congress, I am acutely aware of the many challenges facing rural communities,” Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) said. “The Rural Health Care Caucus will raise awareness about the unique issues my constituents, and others in rural America, face when accessing medical services. I will always use my voice in Congress to support policies that improve access to quality health care services, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to address these challenges.”

“I’m excited to work with my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to address barriers to accessing quality health care in rural areas across the country,” said Congresswoman Susan Wild (PA-07). “Whether it’s advocating for fair reimbursement rates for rural hospitals, or pushing to protect the 340B drug pricing program, I’ll continue pushing to make sure that everyone—no matter where they live—can access the quality, affordable care they need to stay healthy.”

“Having access to affordable health care is the difference between life and death for many rural Americans,” said Congresswoman Miller (WV-01). “It is unacceptable that all West Virginian’s don’t have quality health care available to them when they need it. I am looking forward to working with the Bipartisan Rural Health Caucus on health care policies that will provide quality care in our communities, prioritize our health care workforce, and educate members of Congress on why rural America needs better and more accessible health care.” 

"Every American deserves to have access to affordable, high-quality health care, no matter where they live," said Congresswoman Budzinski (IL-13). "I'm excited to help launch the Bipartisan Rural Health Care Caucus to focus on addressing the challenges too many of my constituents face in receiving the care they need."

“No one should have to travel for hours through treacherous terrain to see a doctor. But for so many in rural Oregon, this is simply reality,” said Rep. Andrea Salinas (OR-06). “That’s why I’m proud to be a founding member of the Rural Health Care Caucus. Together, we will find ways to increase access to quality, affordable health care – including mental health care – for our rural communities. As Oregon continues to experience an unprecedented mental health and substance use crisis, it’s even more critical that we address these issues now. I’m excited to get to work, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to unite behind this caucus and its important mission.”

The Caucus, which currently has 34 members, provides a forum for Members of Congress to advocate for legislation and policy actions that improve access to quality, affordable health care and mental health services for people living in rural and remote communities across the country.

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