On National Rural Health Day, we recommit to providing quality, affordable health care to every zip code in America by making insurance and prescription drugs more affordable, expanding mental health and substance use disorder services , and by keeping rural facilities open and staffed by specialist doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
We have made progress, but challenges remain. For too long, rural hospitals and clinics have been closed, resulting in trauma patients in rural areas often having to travel twice as far for care and having higher mortality rates than Americans living in urban areas. These closings also hurt rural economies, where hospitals are often the city’s biggest employers. Hunger and diet-related diseases are also more common in rural areas, exacerbating health inequalities. And the COVID-19 pandemic has further strained an already strained system.
My administration is fighting to change that. America’s rescue plan directs $8.5 billion to help rural providers cover rising costs related to COVID-19 — keeping rural hospitals and clinics open and helping nearly 700,000 previously uninsured get health coverage rural Americans. To continue this progress, we created a new rural emergency hospital with additional Medicare reimbursement to help improve access to emergency and outpatient care. We provided $1.5 billion in scholarships and student loan assistance to rural clinicians and nurses, including more than 20,000 National Health Service Corps members working in underserved areas. We also launched an innovative program to train rural providers through the Department of Veterans Affairs to better serve the nearly five million veterans who live in rural areas. We’re also helping to build and renovate rural facilities while increasing access to telehealth—a lifeline in remote areas—with historic investments in rural broadband and expanding the services that can be delivered through provider telehealth , serving Medicare beneficiaries. Meanwhile, the Inflation Reduction Act cuts health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act and caps Medicare drug costs for seniors at $2,000 per year and insulin at $35 per prescription per month.
At the same time, we are expanding services for mental health and substance use disorders by supporting community health centers, training professionals and sponsoring initiatives that reduce the stigma often associated with these conditions. Addressing the mental health crisis and defeating the drug overdose epidemic that cuts short so many lives in rural America are urgent priorities for the nation and key pillars of my administration’s Agenda for Unity.
Finally, we’re also improving rural health by ensuring that no child in America goes to bed hungry and no family has to question the safety of the water they drink. In September, I convened the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in more than 50 years and released a national strategy to fight hunger and improve nutrition for every American. As part of the strategy, we are paving the way for all children to receive free and healthy school meals and expanding efforts to increase access to local food. This will benefit rural families as well as local farmers. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, we’re working with state, local and tribal partners to replace lead pipes, get rid of lead paint, and bring clean water to every home across the country.
We all benefit from the work that rural Americans do to feed and fuel the nation. Rural families deserve to pursue their dreams without worrying that the nearest hospital is too far or that their children and jobs will have to move because health care is too hard to find at home. Health care is a right, not a privilege, and I will never stop fighting for rural Americans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 17, 2022, as National Rural Health Day. I urge the people of the United States to reaffirm our commitment to the health and well-being of rural America.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR