Rural Mental Health Center – Iowa

Rural mental health center draws plenty of praise, but it’s faltering for lack of money, By Tony Leys, September 8, 2017, Des Moines Register: “An innovative program that provides mental-health help in a rural area desperate for such services is on the cusp of closure, partly because state officials haven’t arranged a way for it to bill Medicaid. Numerous southern Iowans who’ve used the Oak Place center are stepping forward to explain why they want it to stay open, pushing aside fears about being identified publicly as people who were hamstrung by depression or anxiety — and who sought help…”

Rural Health Care

  • Deaths from cancer higher in rural America, CDC finds, By Lena H. Sun, July 6, 2017, Washington Post: “Despite decreases in cancer death rates nationwide, a new report shows they are higher in rural America than in urban areas of the United States. The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that rural areas had higher rates of new cases as well as of deaths from cancers related to tobacco use, such as lung and laryngeal cancers, and those that can be prevented by screening, such as colorectal and cervical cancers…”
  • Kids in pro-Trump rural areas have a lot to lose if GOP rolls back Medicaid, By Noam Levey, July 6, 2017, Los Angeles Times: “Communities like this aging West Virginia coal town along the Kanawha River were key to President Trump’s victory last year; more than two-thirds of voters in surrounding Fayette County backed the Republican nominee. Now, families in this rural county and hundreds like it that supported Trump face the loss of a critical safety net for children as congressional Republicans move to cut hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade from Medicaid, the half-century-old government health plan for the poor…”

Medicaid Enrollment in Rural Areas

  • Trump’s base in rural America could be disproportionately hurt by Medicaid cuts, By Jose A. DelReal, June 7, 2017, Washington Post: “The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion disproportionately benefited rural Americans over their urban counterparts, according to a new report, and President Trump’s proposed cuts to the program could negatively affect millions of them who have come to rely on it for coverage…”
  • GOP Medicaid cuts hit rural U.S. hardest, report finds, By Phil Galewitz, June 7, 2016, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “Rural America carried President Donald Trump to his election win in November. Trump Country it might be, but rural areas and small towns also make up Medicaid Country, those parts of the United States where low-income children and families are most dependent on the federal-state health insurance program, according to a report released Wednesday…”

Rural Food Insecurity

In some rural counties, hunger is rising, but food donations aren’t, By Pam Fessler, May 22, 2017, National Public Radio: “One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities.  Food banks that serve these areas are also feeling the squeeze, as surplus food supplies dwindle but the lines of people seeking help remain long…”

Rural Employment

  • In search of rural jobs, states weigh strategy with checkered past, By Jen Fifield, March 30, 2017, Stateline: “In rural communities across the country, jobs are disappearing and people are moving away, driving a desperation that helped elect Donald Trump president. But as state lawmakers look for ways to bring life to these long-struggling areas, many are falling prey to a complex economic development approach, pushed hard by investment firms that stand to benefit, that has failed to live up to its promises…”
  • Disabled, or just desperate?, By Terrence McCoy, March 30, 2017, Washington Post: “The lobby at the pain-management clinic had become crowded with patients, so relatives had gone outside to their trucks to wait, and here, too, sat Desmond Spencer, smoking a 9 a.m. cigarette and watching the door. He tried stretching out his right leg, knowing these waits can take hours, and winced. He couldn’t sit easily for long, not anymore, and so he took a sip of soda and again thought about what he should do.  He hadn’t had a full-time job in a year. He was skipping meals to save money. He wore jeans torn open in the front and back. His body didn’t work like it once had. He limped in the days, and in the nights, his hands would swell and go numb, a reminder of years spent hammering nails. His right shoulder felt like it was starting to go, too…”

Rural Poverty and Crime

Report: Violent crime rate is higher for rural poor, By Sophia Tareen (AP), March 15, 2017, State Journal-Register: “People living in poverty are more likely to become victims of violent crime than higher income earners whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, but the rural poor experience crime at higher rates, according to a Wednesday report by a Chicago research group…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Kansas

Rural dental networks hit hard by Kansas Medicaid cuts, By Andy Marso, December 12, 2016, KCUR: “At 59 years old, Bill Miller is starting to have neck and back problems. Thirty-two years of bending over to check patients’ teeth and gums will do that, he said. Miller is the only dentist in Hill City, a community of about 1,500 people northwest of Hays. He has treated Medicaid patients his entire career, even as reimbursements increasingly have lagged the cost of providing care.  Earlier this year the state cut those reimbursements another 4 percent as part of a host of emergency budget-balancing measures. Miller said that has him seriously considering dropping out of the Medicaid program…”

Rural Health Care – Nevada, Kentucky

  • Health-care ‘have-nots’: Nevada’s rural residents face fraying safety net, By Pashtana Usufzy, November 19, 2016, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Tears well up in the eyes of lifelong Tonopah resident Acacia Hathaway as she talks about last year’s closure of Nye Regional Medical Center, the only hospital within 100 miles of her home.  ‘It was … like the end of the world here,’ says the 24-year-old mother of three, including a daughter who suffers from Goltz syndrome, a rare illness that requires frequent care from medical specialists.  Now, instead of visiting the local hospital when 4-year-old Ella suffers one of her seemingly inevitable infections, Hathaway or her husband, Justin, drive to Las Vegas – three hours each way. That’s in addition to twice-monthly trips for regular appointments with her doctors — all eight of them…”
  • In depressed rural Kentucky, worries mount over Medicaid cutbacks, By Phi Galewitz, November 19, 2016, National Public Radio: “For Freida Lockaby, an unemployed 56-year-old woman who lives with her dog in an aging mobile home in Manchester, Ky., one of America’s poorest places, the Affordable Care Act was life altering.  The law allowed Kentucky to expand Medicaid in 2014 and made Lockaby – along with 440,000 other low-income state residents – newly eligible for free health care under the state-federal insurance program. Enrollment gave Lockaby her first insurance in 11 years…”

Rural Food Insecurity

Small Iowa town a window Into hunger problem in rural US, By Scott McFetridge (AP), October 12, 2016, ABC News: “Storm Lake, Iowa, appears the picture of economic health, a place where jobs are plentiful, the unemployment rate hovers near 3 percent, busy shops fill century-old brick buildings and children ride bikes on tree-lined sidewalks that end in the glare of its namesake lake.  But there’s a growing problem in the northwest Iowa city of 11,000, one that’s familiar to rural areas around the country: Thousands of working families and elderly residents don’t have enough money to feed themselves or their children. The issue persists even as national poverty rates have declined in the past year and prices for many food staples have dropped slightly…”

Rural Poverty – Oklahoma

Rural poverty: ‘A way of life’ for numerous Oklahomans, By Michael Overall, August 8, 2016, Tulsa World: “With no air conditioning on a brutally hot summer afternoon, 19-year-old Breeze Bunch is sitting on the front porch with a half-empty Pepsi and a bottle of sunscreen.  ‘Why don’t you go splash in the water?’ Bunch tells her 2-year-old daughter, who waddles off toward an inflatable kiddie pool under a shade tree beside the house.
Sharing a clapboard house with her boyfriend’s family, Bunch lives on a dead-end street north of downtown in one of the poorest, most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Oklahoma. This isn’t Tulsa or Oklahoma City, or even Muskogee or Lawton. A five-minute walk could put Bunch in the middle of a cow pasture…”

Rural Poverty Initiatives

  • Obama administration announces new rural poverty initiatives, By Jackie Mader, February 24, 2016, Education Week: “Rural children living in poverty will receive more attention under several new initiatives announced by the Obama administration during a Tuesday meeting of the White House Rural Council.  The programs will encourage communities to prioritize rural child poverty, offer loans to community development projects in rural areas, and provide funding for a ‘two-generation’ approach to rural poverty…”
  • Fighting poverty and opiate addiction in rural communities, By Lizzie O’Leary, February 24, 2016, Marketplace: “In America’s rural communities, poverty, health and education gaps, and a striking increase in opiate addiction are challenging social services and the budget. News of the increasing numbers of deaths among middle-aged Americans and the high rates of opiate overdoses are in the news, and since 2011, the Obama administration’s Rural Poverty Coalition has been tackling the multi-generational issues that come with providing social services to rural America…”

Rural Hospitals

To survive, rural hospitals join forces, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2015, Stateline: “Ask Sam Lindsey about the importance of Northern Cochise Community Hospital and he’ll give you a wry grin. You might as well be asking the 77-year-old city councilman to choose between playing pickup basketball—as he still does most Fridays—and being planted six feet under the Arizona dust. Lindsey believes he’s above ground, and still playing point guard down at the Mormon church, because of Northern Cochise. Last Christmas, he suffered a severe stroke in his home. He survived, he said, because his wife, Zenita, got him to the hospital within minutes. If it hadn’t been there, she would have had to drive him 85 miles to Tucson Medical Center. There are approximately 2,300 rural hospitals in the U.S., most of them concentrated in the Midwest and the South. For a variety of reasons, many of them are struggling to survive…”

Hispanic Rural Poverty

Hispanic poverty in rural areas challenges states, By Teresa Wiltz, August 14, 2015, Stateline: “Today, one in four babies born in the U.S. is Hispanic. Increasingly they are being born into immigrant families who’ve bypassed the cities—the traditional pathway for immigrants—for rural America. Hispanic babies born in rural enclaves are more likely to be impoverished than those in the city. And it’s harder for them to receive help from federal and state programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Consistent health care also is hard to come by, particularly if their parents are undocumented and are fearful of being discovered and deported—even though the children are U.S. citizens. As a result, many researchers say, many of these children may never realize their full potential and escape poverty…”

Rural Poverty and Child Health – Ohio

  • Poverty leads to health problems for rural kids, By Jessie Balmert, August 7, 2014, Zanesville Times Recorder: “Children in Ohio’s rural counties face health problems their city peers don’t, and the gap is getting worse, according to a Children’s Defense Fund report released Thursday. More than 28 percent of children in Ohio’s Appalachian counties, including Muskingum County, lived in poverty compared with the state average of 23 percent, according to the report…”
  • Report: Children falling behind in Appalachian Ohio, By Jim Ryan, August 8, 2014, Columbus Dispatch: “Few would be surprised that families in Appalachia struggle with poverty and inadequate access to health care. A new report, however, shows that children in Ohio’s Appalachian counties are even worse off than kids in inner-city neighborhoods…”

Rural Poverty

USDA says poverty increasing in rural America, By Michael Rosmann, May 28, 2014, Farm and Ranch Guide: “Rural child poverty is at its highest level since the mid-1980s, according to two recently released USDA Reports: Rural America at a Glance, 2013 Edition and Rural Poverty & Well-being. Like the overall poverty rate, child poverty in nonmetropolitan (rural) areas of the US has historically been higher than in metropolitan (urban) areas. In 2012, rural child poverty increased to 26.7 percent – its highest level in nearly three decades – while the urban rate declined slightly to 20.9 percent. Definition of poverty. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) defines poverty as less income than is necessary to purchase basic needs, which include food, shelter, clothing and other essential goods. . .”

Affordable Care Act

  • Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices for Rural Areas, By Reed Abelson, Katie Thomas, and Jo Craven McGinty, October 23, 2013, New York Times: “As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama’s health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program’s loftiest goals — to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low — is falling short for many rural Americans. While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found…”
  • Obama team to clarify health care penalties, By David Jackson, October 24, 2013, USA Today: “The Obama administration is seeking to clarify penalty rules for people who delay signing up for coverage under the new health care law. Simply put: People who wait until the end of the initial enrollment period — March 31 — will not be penalized. The Obama administration is preparing legal guidance to address a confusion of dates in the law, which says people must sign up by the 15th of one month to receive coverage on the first of the next month…”

USDA Rural Poverty Initiative – Utah

StrikeForce aims to help reduce rural poverty in Utah, By Whitney Evans, April 3, 2013, Deseret News: “Gilbert Harris, 70, and his wife manually watered their 10 acres of alfalfa and Native American corn for most of his farming career. It took them five days every two weeks. Through funding provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Harris installed gated irrigation a little more than five years ago and reduced the time he spent watering by one to two days. ‘All these people are here to help you, but you have to put it together. We found out that is the secret,’ Harris said in a video created by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Utah is one of 10 states selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to participate in the StrikeForce initiative, created in an effort to boost economic development and job creation…”

USDA Rural Poverty Initiative

USDA grows rural poverty effort, Associated Press, March 26, 2013, Washington Post: “A federal program intended to reduce poverty and improve life in rural areas through better access to federal funding is expanding to six more states, officials said Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to South Carolina to announce the expansion of the so-called StrikeForce initiative, which already operates in 10 states. The program will now also be available in the Carolinas, the Dakotas, Alabama and Virginia. The goal of StrikeForce is to help farmers, food producers and other businesses get access to money for projects such as new wells, greenhouses, community gardens, kitchen space and summer meals for low-income school children. The money is often hard to access because of complicated grant applications, requirements for matching funds and limited staffing…”

US Rural Unemployment

Rural unemployment continues down, By Bill Bishop, June 4, 2012, Daily Yonder: “Unemployment in rural America continues to drop. In April, the average unemployment rate in the more than 2,000 rural counties dipped to 7.7 percent. And the unemployment rate in exurban counties – counties near metro areas but largely rural in character – declined to 7.2 percent. Both rural and exurban counties had average unemployment rates that were below the average for metropolitan counties, which was 7.8 percent in April. The figures on county unemployment were just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics…”

Rural Poverty Rates

SD has highest rural poverty rate in Great Plains, By Marcus Traxler, May 23, 2012, Mitchell Daily Republic: “South Dakota has the highest rate of rural poverty in a 10-state region of the Great Plains, and more than one-fourth of the state’s rural children live in poverty, according to a report by the Center for Rural Affairs. According to 2010 census data used in the report, 20.6 percent of South Dakotans in rural counties live in poverty. That’s 44,973 of the state’s 218,821 rural residents. Montana was the next closest state with a rural poverty rate of 17.8 percent. A rural county is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a county with a population center less than 10,000 residents in size and is not in a metropolitan or micropolitan area…”