Thank you for supporting Alabama's rural health

As we conclude our 2018 Annual Conference and look forward toward later Spring and Summer, we would like to thank each of our members and partners for being a part of Alabama's rural health infrastructure.  This critical element in the state's health forms the backbone of access to care for the majority of our citizens.  

 

We will have many updates and new tools coming for members, so stay tuned as we make these updates for you!

An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the Alabama Board of Medical Scholarship Awards

The Alabama Board of Medical Scholarship Awards (BMSA) is an Alabama legislature program that was created as an incentive to increase the supply of primary care physicians (family practice, internal medicine, and pediatrics) and encourage their practice in the state's rural medically underserved communities. Application for educational loans are available to all students enrolled in medical schools in the State of Alabama. Each loan recipient enters into a contractual agreement with the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards whereby the recipient agrees to practice primary care in a medically underserved community. For default or termination of a loan the recipient is required to repay the principle of the loan plus a penalty of up to 200% of the total principle amount of the loan.

 

The failure of a loan recipient to perform his or her contractual agreement with the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards or to pay the amount he or she is liable for under this program shall constitute a ground for the revocation of his or her license to practice medicine.

143 primary care residency graduates have completed or are currently fulfilling their service obligations.

 

     The effectiveness of the BMSA educational loan program was evaluated using criteria based on stated intent as expressed in the Alabama legislature and standard metrics for measuring outcomes of educational loans, scholarships and incentives. The criteria used to evaluate the effectiveness this program were:
 

     • Increase the supply of primary care physicians in the state of Alabama

     • Encourage practice in the state's rural medically underserved communities

     • Attract young primary care physicians to rural Alabama (replace Alabama's aging rural primary care physician workforce)

     • Prudent use of state dollars

BMSA

Alabama Rural Health Talking Points - 2018

Life expectancy at birth for rural Alabamians is one-half of a year lower than that for urban Alabama residents and 3 ½ years lower than that for the nation.  Life expectancy for residents of Wilcox County is 9 years lower than that for the nation.

 

More than one in every five rural residents is eligible for Medicaid.

 

More than one half (55%) of all rural children are eligible for Medicaid.

 

14 rural counties have between 10 and 16 percent of all households with no vehicle.

 

Only two of Alabama’s 54 rural counties (Coffee and Pike) are not entirely or partially classified as primary care shortage areas.  There are 4.1 primary care physicians per 10,000 population in Alabama’s rural counties compared to 7.9 for urban residents.

 

All of Alabama’s 54 rural counties are classified as dental shortage areas for the delivery of service to the low-income population.  Only Shelby County and a portion of Madison County are not currently classified as dental care shortage areas.  There are 2.7 dentists per 10,000 population in Alabama’s rural counties compared to 5.5 for urban residents.

 

Alabama currently has three counties (Coosa, Greene, and Lowndes) with no full-time dentists in the entire county.  Coosa does not have a physician in the entire county.

 

All of Alabama’s 54 rural counties are classified as mental health care shortage areas for providing mental health care to the entire or low-income populations.  Only Madison County is not currently classified as mental health care shortage areas. 

 

In 1980, 45 of Alabama’s 54 rural counties had hospitals providing obstetrical service.  Today only 16 of the 54 counties offer this basic service.  In 1980, 10 of the 12 Black Belt Region counties had hospitals providing obstetrical service.  Today only one still offers this service.

 

More than ¼ of all births to rural Alabama women involve mothers who received less than adequate prenatal care during their pregnancy.

 

13 rural Alabama counties do not have a dialysis clinic.

 

8 rural counties (Cleburne, Coosa, Henry, Lamar, Lowndes, Macon, Perry, and Winston) do not have a hospital.

 

Having healthy population growth is a basic requirement for attracting and keeping adequate health care services.  Between 1910 and 2010, 24 of Alabama’s 54 rural counties actually lost population.  37 of the 54 rural counties and 2 of the 13 urban counties are projected to lose population between 2010 and 2040.

 

Obesity is a major risk factor for numerous serious health conditions.  There are 17 rural Alabama counties with between 40 and 49% of the adult population being obese.

 

The mortality rate for rural Alabama residents is over 12% higher than that for urban residents and nearly 35% higher than that for the nation.

 

The chronic lower respiratory diseases mortality rate for rural Alabama residents is nearly 36% higher than that for urban residents and nearly 64% higher than that for the nation.

 

The motor vehicle accident mortality rate for rural Alabama residents is over 67% higher than that for urban residents and more than 163% higher than the national rate.

ARHA Awards Our Rural Hospitals Free Membership for 2018 - Greatly Reduced Membership Fees Thereafter

In response to the financial crisis that Alabama's rural hospitals are facing, the Board of Directors of the Alabama Rural Health Association has authorized free membership for all Alabama rural hospitals in 2018.  Following 2018, rural hospital membership will be reduced from $560 to $150 per year.

 

This action is being taken to show appreciation for the excellent service that our rural hospitals are providing and to recognize the vital importance of rural hospitals to our population's health status, local area growth, and the presence of local economic opportunity.

 

Our rural hospitals have obtained hero status through their long-term and strong struggle to remain open and provide quality health care while being condemned to some of the lowest reimbursement rates in the nation.