Statement from Secretary Xavier Becerra on National Rural Health Day
In recognition of National Rural Health Day on November 18, 2021, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra issued the following statement:
“Rural communities help to power America and represent a fifth of the U.S. population, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to improving health outcomes and promoting health equity in rural America. This year, the Administration has invested almost $16 billion to strengthen rural health, and thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the Department of Health and Human Services has provided over $1.1 billion to rural health providers to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccinations, and education. In order to help rural health providers, $8.5 billion in ARP funding will help offset some of the lost revenues and increased expenses experienced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we are also making vast investments to address maternal health needs and substance use disorder challenges disproportionately impacting our rural families.
For decades, I have fought hard to ensure quality health care is in reach for everyone across our great nation. Among my top priorities as HHS Secretary is making affordable health care more accessible and reducing our uninsured rate, including in rural America. I applaud the people of Oklahoma and Missouri for expanding access to Medicaid coverage, which will get more low-income rural Americans covered. We will continue to work with the 12 hold-out states, all of which have large rural populations, to expand Medicaid so that more residents will have access to health care and the peace of mind that coverage brings. We are also in the midst of the 2022 Open Enrollment period, where we are quadrupling our outreach efforts to reach as many uninsured Americans as possible, including rural residents, who are nearly 25 percent more likely to be uninsured than those living in urban areas.
This National Rural Health Day, I want to thank our health care providers who continue to persevere through the challenges and deliver essential care to the 61 million Americans living in rural areas. Your commitment is key to our resolve and efforts in creating a healthier rural America as we build back better.”