Hawaii Representatives Attend National Rural Health Policy Institute in DC
By Robin Pilus
The National Rural Health Association recently held its annual Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, DC and May Akamine and Pam Christoffel, both Board members of the Hawaii State Rural Health Association, attended.
All of Maui County, as well as the other neighbor islands, are designated as rural areas and are therefore effected by policies and laws enacted for such areas.
The National Rural Health Association has 20,000 members. The mission of the Association is to provide leadership on rural issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.
According to the National Rural Health Association, “The obstacles faced by health care providers and patients in rural areas are vastly different than those in urban areas. Rural Americans face a unique combination of factors that create disparities in health care not found in urban areas.”
Some of the factors impeding those living in remote rural areas from obtaining adequate healthcare include economic factors, cultural and social differences, educational shortcomings, and the sheer isolation of living in remote rural areas.
The priorities established by this year’s policy institute were: 1) Improve workforce shortages in rural America; 2) Improve payment inequities for rural providers; and 3) Invest in primary care.
While in Washington, Akamine and Christoffel conducted visits to Hawai’i Congressional delegation members on Capitol Hill. One visit was with Hawai`i’s Senator Daniel Inouye who heads of the Senate’s appropriations committee and is a long time advocate of solving Rural Health Issues. Senator Inouye also spoke at the Policy Institute and received a standing ovation for his remarks.