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Past Conference

hospital entrance
Tue., Oct. 6, 2020

Innovative Rural Health Funding Strategies

Welcome to the Richmond Fed’s inaugural Investing in Rural America Week, a three-day sharing of digital content that will give you insight and information on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, rural health care and agriculture, in particular in the Federal Reserve Fifth District.

Over the next three days, you can visit this page to learn more about the unique challenges and opportunities faced by communities in rural areas of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and parts of West Virginia — issues that likely reflect rural communities nationwide in some ways, allowing for the sharing of information, ideas and resources that you'll discover on this page.

  • October 5: Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Rural South
  • October 6: Innovative Rural Health Funding Strategies
  • October 7: The State of Agriculture in the Fifth District and Beyond (content co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)

The most recent information will be featured at the top of the page throughout the week. Thank you for joining us for this experience! If you find it helpful, invite your colleagues and others to visit this page as well.

Introduction for Day 2

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the health care infrastructure and highlighted disparities in health and health care access across the country. Rural communities, which are disproportionately impacted by hospital closures, health care workforce shortages, and social and economic barriers to health and health care access, will face unique challenges to economic recovery.

Stakeholders, policymakers, local organizations have developed promising rural-specific initiatives, but financial and implementation challenges remain. What will health care delivery look like in rural communities after the pandemic? How can rural hospitals remain financially viable and adequately serve their communities? What innovative public-private partnerships and cross-sector collaborations can address barriers to improving health outcomes in rural communities? How should rural communities and health care facilities leverage existing assets to improve health outcomes and financial stability?

Innovation in Health

Moderator: Mark Holmes, Director, Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


Video is temporarily unavailable.

Summary: Holmes began the panel on financing rural health by discussing the disparities and the need for alliances between rural and urban health care. He asked the panelists about the future of rural health care, the financial viability of rural hospitals, and how collaborations can break down rural health barriers.

Cain argued that a diversified rural economy is a social barometer of success. She emphasized that addressing people's individual physical and mental health needs will allow them to succeed and give back to their community. Cain explained that a cross-sector regional approach is the best way to improve the public health sector. She believes now is the time to tackle systemic issues because people want to make a difference in their communities.

Chiang praised rural communities for their resilience during the pandemic. He explained that broadband investment has led to population growth and more diverse economies in rural communities. He stated that rural hospitals have become more financially viable because of increased public and private funding of health insurance, which decreased the coverage gap and allowed hospitals to reallocate funding.

Knudson emphasized how access to broadband has created changes in how and where people live and work. She described how the pandemic highlighted flaws in public health infrastructure and explained that rural community members should be making their own health care financing decisions. She noted that one positive of the pandemic is increased participation in telehealth, which allows people to access health care despite traditional barriers like distance.

“Understanding the challenges and opportunities of the less prosperous parts of the Fifth District is a key part of fulfilling our mandate, and in our District much of those areas are rural small towns. Though our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, we’ve shown throughout history that unprecedented change can turn into opportunities. And so this is an opportunity for these parts of our District to rewrite their endings.” - Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin

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