Pete for America
For Immediate Release
August 9, 2019
Contact: Chris Meagher

Mayor Pete Announces Plan to Secure the Health of Rural America

CLEAR LAKE, IA –– Today, Mayor Pete Buttigieg introduced a forward-looking plan to deal with the urgency of the moment and secure the health of all rural Americans by guaranteeing affordable health care for rural communities, expanding telehealth, increasing the availability of providers in rural areas, and ensuring access to maternal and mental health services.

This is a make or break moment for health care in rural America. Today, the gap between urban and rural life expectancy is wider than in at least 50 years. In the 21st century, where you live should not dictate how healthy you are, how long you live, or how well you live. We can’t expect to recycle the same old policies and get better results––we need a fundamentally different approach to rural health.

“It is time to break with the politics of the past, meet the urgency of this moment, and usher in a new era for rural America,” Buttigieg said. “We need to lift rural communities up as places of opportunity, both for this generation and future ones. That work begins with securing the health of all rural residents.”

The plan will focus on several key policy areas aimed at addressing this growing health crisis for rural Americans, including the following:

  • Guarantee access to affordable health coverage for rural Americans through “Medicare For All Who Want It.”
  • Increase availability of providers in America’s rural communities, with a focus on building out primary care and mental health care workforces.
  • Ensure access to critical health care services for rural Americans by encouraging new, sustainable care models and helping rural hospitals become financially viable.
  • End the maternal health care crisis in rural America by making it easier for women to access high-quality care and support before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • Combat the mental health and addiction epidemics roiling rural America by expanding prevention and access to effective treatment, as well as a workforce to provide it.
  • Mobilize communities to address health inequity and the economic and social factors that contribute to poor health among communities of color in rural America.
  • Expand access to and increase investment in virtual care and broadband infrastructure to improve access to care for rural Americans.

A Buttigieg Administration will take aggressive and bold steps toward ensuring that rural America is empowered to be part of the solution to our country’s most pressing problems –– and that starts with securing the health and well-being of these communities.

Read the full text of the plan HERE.


What People Are Saying About Pete’s Plan to Secure a Healthy Rural America

CNN: Pete Buttigieg's health care plan for rural America aims to attract immigrant doctors, provide better technology

In a new plan aimed at improving health care access for rural America, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Friday proposed waiving visa requirements to attract immigrant doctors, increasing telehealth services by expanding high speed internet and creating a new office within the Department of Health and Human Services. [...]

Care for veterans, minorities and pregnant women in rural communities also are highlighted in the plan. Buttigieg plans to reduce maternal mortality rates by funding pre-maternity homes and offering subsidies for housing and transportation.

New Hampshire Union Leader: Buttigieg says rural plan would keep NH clinics open, fill more jobs

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said his rural health plan will help shore up New Hampshire hospitals at risk of closure, cope with the shuttering of nine maternity wards, and cope with a chronic shortage of health care workers especially needed to work in small towns. [...]

Eleanor Cochrane of Hancock is a retired registered nurse from a large family medical practice at a regional medical center.

"Mayor Buttigieg’s plan for meeting the challenges of healthcare in rural New Hampshire and across the country focuses on areas that are critically important right now," Cochrane said.

Iowa Public Radio: Buttigieg Releases Plan To Improve Rural Healthcare Access, Outcomes
The gap in life expectancies between rural and urban Americans is the widest it’s been in five decades, according to research published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Buttigieg wants to reverse that trend, by keeping rural hospitals open, recruiting and maintaining more providers in rural areas, and expanding access to critical services, particularly for primary care, maternal health, mental illness and addiction. His plan would also allow for more technology-based health options like telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

Essence: Pete Buttigieg Unveils Healthcare Plan To Help Black Women In Rural Areas

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg revealed a new healthcare plan on Friday, specifically targeting healthcare in rural America, with special focus on Black women. [...]

His plan details proposals to not only increase access to healthcare for Black women, but to end the Black maternal health crisis. [...]

Buttigieg’s plan focuses on providing workforce development grants specific to maternal health professions, reforming Medicaid coverage to cover post-delivery care, and collecting data through funding the maternal mortality review and other efforts in order to identify ways to improve access to quality health care treatment for Black women and Black mothers.

The plan highlights geographic isolation, as well as a shortage in providers, which makes it difficult for rural Americans, particularly Black Americans, to seek out preventive care and treatment. The plan seeks to increase investment, and thus access, through virtual care and broadband infrastructure.

IndyStar: Here's how Pete Buttigieg would improve rural health care

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg released a second major policy proposal this week, delving into how he would reform health care for rural Americans.

NBC News: Buttigieg unveils rural health plan as he starts Iowa swing

The plan illustrates how Buttigieg is working to cast himself as uniquely qualified in the Democratic primary field to address issues important to rural voters and those in the Midwest, including many who voted in 2016 for President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post: The Health 202: Mayor Pete proposes keeping Obamacare, with a public option

Buttigieg’s campaign will today release a plan for improving and expanding health care for Americans — primarily patients in rural areas — provided to The Health 202. [...]

Buttigieg is proposing a number of measures to combat rural provider shortages, partly by boosting programs that encourage doctors to work in remote areas. His proposal also calls for investing in telehealth, boosting treatment for mental health and addiction treatment and creating a new Office of Health Equity and Justice at Health and Human Services, all with the aim of improving care for people living in rural places. [..]

Former Maryland health secretary Joshua Sharfstein, who weighed in on the Buttigieg outline, said he appreciates its holistic approach to health care that goes beyond just treating illness.

“This would get an ‘A’ in my book for that,” Sharfstein said. “He’s thinking about health care in terms of the communities they produce. It’s not enough to say we’re going to make sure all the hospitals stay open, we actually want to improve life expectancy and quality of life in rural areas.”

Politico: How Pete Buttigieg would overhaul rural health

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Friday rolled out a sweeping plan to expand access to health services in rural communities, while addressing drug addiction and tackling rising maternal mortality rates across the country. [...]
The Hill: Buttigieg unveils plan to improve health care in rural areas

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) on Friday unveiled a plan to overhaul the nation's health care system that would implement a public insurance option while working to improve and expand health services in rural areas and on Native American reservations.

From Twitter:

Joshua Sharfstein @drJoshS: Impressed by @PeteButtigieg plan for rural *health* — with starting point that people in rural areas are dying too early from preventable causes. Time to pay for healthcare and other efforts with the clear goal in mind of a healthier nation.

Katy Backes Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA @katybkoz There's lots more good stuff here, and I've been so heartened to see Mayor Pete and other candidates seeking input from diverse perspectives and consulting evidence in developing plans to address crucial issues. 7/7

Ashwin Vasan @ashvasnyc Health is existential to the future of #ruralamerica. ⁦@PeteButtigieg⁩ understands this.

Vanessa Yurkevich @vyurkevich: I've spent a lot of time with America's farmers - many without healthcare coverage - who say they need high speed internet, more doctors, and easier access to them. Pete Buttigieg addresses those concerns in new health plan aimed at rural America

Vanessa Yurkevich @vyurkevich: In the plan Buttigieg says he will expand high speed internet and broadband across the country by the end of his first term and increase funding to the FCC Rural Health Care Program to $1 billion, allowing for more telehealth care for people in rural communities who can't travel.

CNN Politics @CNNPolitics: Pete Buttigieg's health care plan for rural America aims to attract immigrant doctors, provide better technology

POLITICO @Politico: Buttigieg released a plan to expand access to health services in rural communities, while addressing drug addiction and tackling rising maternal mortality rates across the country

DJ Judd @DJJudd: Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in Iowa today— this morning, he unveiled his plan for rural health care, which would offer visa incentives to immigrant doctors working in underserved areas of the country and expand telehealth initiatives. Via @vyurkevich:

Justin Gomez @JustinGomez: @PeteButtigieg has released a “Health Care for Rural America” plan before he makes several stops in Iowa today. The plan aims to increase provider availability in rural areas, invest in telehealth and improve access to maternal and mental health services.

Justin Gomez @JustinGomez: Buttigieg’s plan will also attempt to attract doctors and nurses to practice in rural areas and more training will be given to those already in place. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program will also expand to include employment in rural private hospitals & practice groups.

Joseph Ax @josephax: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released a health care plan aimed at rural Americans and Native American tribes… @Reuters