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What is rural health?

Up to 25 percent of U.S. residents reside in rural areas.  Compared with urban populations, rural residents generally have higher poverty rates, have a larger elderly population, tend to be in poorer health, and have higher uninsured rates than urban areas. Correspondingly, rural areas often have fewer physician practices, hospitals, and other health delivery resources.  These socioeconomic and health care challenges place some rural populations at a disadvantage for receiving safe, timely, effective, equitable, and patient-centered care, resulting in efforts by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) to promote better health care delivery in rural America.

Established in August 1987, ORHP was charged with informing and advising the Department of Health and Human Services on matters affecting rural hospitals, and health care, coordinating activities within the department that relate to rural health care, and maintaining a national information clearinghouse. ORHP also works with State and local governments and with the private sector -- with associations, foundations, providers and community leaders -- to seek solutions to rural health care problems.

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