I was in Washington, D.C., recently for a meeting of the National Rural Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is my second year serving on this committee and I am starting to get a little better handle on it. I agreed to serve on this committee because it is an opportunity to work in the executive branch of the federal government. Most of my activities over the years have been in the legislative branch. It is my hope is to have some impact on how HHS views rural healthcare.
Each year we study topics important to rural America regarding health care and human services. Then we prepare a report to the Secretary of HHS in conjunction with the staff of the Federal Office of Rural Health. Each committee member serves on a task force relating to one of the topics. I am chairing the task force on Provider Integration. Our focus will be to look at payment policy and regulatory matters that are barriers to integration of care in rural communities. We will certainly also keep in mind the impact of the stimulus package and ramping up of discussions on healthcare reform as we study provider integration. It is a rather exciting time to be part of these discussions and I look forward to our work through out the year.
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