Legislators Introduce Bills to Improve Access and Quality in Rural Wisconsin

WHA applauds initiatives aimed at bolstering health care, wellness in rural communities

March 17, 2017

A group of bipartisan state lawmakers released four legislative proposals March 15 aimed at improving both access to and the quality of health care in rural Wisconsin. The bills seek to fund training consortia for allied health professionals, including surgical technicians, physical therapists and certified nursing assistants; clinical training programs for advanced practice clinicians, such as physician assistants and advanced practice nurses; wellness programs in rural areas affiliated with hospitals and health systems, and WHA quality improvement initiatives in rural communities.

"Rural Wisconsin needs to maintain and grow its health care workforce," said Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake). "These bills will help ensure that people in rural areas continue to receive the high-quality care for which Wisconsin is known."

More than 1.5 million people live in rural areas of Wisconsin. The initiative recognizes the importance of ensuring Wisconsin’s rural residents have access to high-quality health care and wellness programs, while addressing the need for attracting and retaining an adequate workforce to deliver care in these regions.

"There is no doubt that rural areas of our state face unique challenges as they strive to deliver high-quality, accessible health care through highly skilled professionals," according to WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding. "Health care is a key factor in economic development, but it is critically important for rural areas. This package of initiatives is a well thought out and targeted approach to help hospitals and health systems in rural areas receive the support they need to continue delivering the high-quality care that has gained us a national reputation."

Borgerding said WHA applauds the efforts of the legislators who advanced this set of proposals, which have the full support of WHA and its members across the state.

"Wisconsin is proud of its rural heritage, and it is important that we are promoting and encouraging workforce training programs that encourage health care professionals to experience rural Wisconsin," Borgerding said. "It is reassuring that our state legislators are stepping up with a set of specific proposals for rural regions of the state that will provide additional training, wellness and quality improvement options for our residents in rural Wisconsin."

For more information about the Rural Wisconsin Initiative, visit www.RuralWisconsinInitiative.com.

This story originally appeared in the March 17, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter