Udall’s rural health amendments pass with Senate bill

Six of Senator Udall’s amendments made it into the health care bill that passed its first vote in the Senate last night—including two aimed at improving health care for rural residents.

In a press release about the amendments, Udall compared passing the bill to skiing across Alaska, perhaps a comparison elicited by the snowstorm whitewashing the skies outside the Senate chambers.

“The road to health care reform has been tough going.  It reminds me of the time I skied across Northern Alaska for 40 days, waking up in the same cold tent every day.  But today, it feels a little warmer, the skies look a little bluer, and I’m optimistic that we’re on the last leg of an important journey,” Senator Udall said.

Sen. Mark Udall

Sen. Mark Udall

Udall’s Rural Physicians Pipeline Amendment would establish a grant program to help expand rural training programs at medical schools. The program aims to train people—particularly rural citizens—in rural medicine.

In comments about the bill, Udall has noted that, of Colorado’s 47 rural counties, all but three are designated by the federal government as “health professional shortage areas.”

Speaking about the bill to The Colorado Independent, Clint Cresawn, director of the Colorado Sustainable Towns: Rural Innovation, Development, Expansion, and Success (STRIDES) program, noted that the United States education system, in general, tends to shut doors at every opportunity for people who want to go into rural health care. A rural track at a school of medicine, he said, provides students with the unique training they need and opportunities to keep them excited and passionate about rural health care.

Another Udall amendment would ensure that the Community Transformation Grants already in the Senate bill would be equally distributed between both rural and urban areas.

The grants are designed to help prevent and reduce chronic disease in communities across the country by funding programs that combat obesity, tobacco use, diabetes and other health conditions or unhealthy lifestyle choices.

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Katie Redding

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