Ryan Urgo of Avalere: “Addressing Rural Care Is a Health Equity Issue”

Addressing rural care is a way of addressing health inequities, and the Biden administration’s recent investment in rural care reflects its commitment to addressing health equity, said Ryan Urgo, MPAP, managing director, health policy, Avalere.

Addressing rural care is a way of addressing health inequities, and the Biden administration’s recent investment in rural care reflects its commitment to addressing health equity, said Ryan Urgo, MPAP, managing director, health policy, Avalere.

Transcript

There is a rural health care push from the Biden administration. What is the commitment from the administration and what problems is it hoping to address?

Well, without a doubt, I would say that addressing rural health care is a health equity issue. You often see unequal outcomes in rural communities, disproportionately poor access to care and access to providers, and I think the Biden [administration’s] emphasis on rural health care is a reflection of their commitment to addressing health equity. I think the two are inextricably linked.

I also think that telehealth and a lot of the telehealth improvements you've seen over the course of the pandemic is a way to improve health care in rural communities, because you can bring health care to places where the bricks and mortar presence is just not what it is in more urban centers.

Does the Medicare waiver for telehealth that was enacted as part of the public health emergency (PHE) need to be extended beyond the PHE by regulatory or legislative action?

Telehealth is such a broad and umbrella term that it could be a little bit of both. But certainly there are regulatory means through which some of the expiring telehealth flexibilities could be extended. And that's going to be a hot topic for supporters of telehealth, is to assess: what's set to expire and what isn’t? And how can how can some of those expiring flexibilities be preserved through ongoing regulation?