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With rural communities facing a crisis in accessible healthcare, lawmakers in North Carolina have committed funds for an independent, statewide analysis of more sustainable delivery models. Read about RHI’s historic opportunity in the press release below.

Raleigh, NC, September 22, 2023 – North Carolina’s new budget was approved today by the General Assembly, and Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement that he would allow it to become law without his signature. The budget makes strong investments in healthcare, including a $2.5 million appropriation for creating “effective models of sustainable healthcare for North Carolina rural communities.”

The Rural Healthcare Initiative (RHI), a North Carolina nonprofit corporation, was selected to lead the work.

“The future of rural healthcare in our country is threatened, and we applaud the General Assembly for its leadership to take action in North Carolina,” said RHI co-founder Bob Wilson. “We’re grateful to the State Legislature for entrusting us with this important mission, which sums up our reason for existence. As independent experts with over 150 years of combined experience, we formed RHI with the explicit mission of making rural healthcare more accessible and sustainable, both in North Carolina and across the country.”

RHI believes that healthcare should be accessible and effective for everyone – not just for people who live in cities and suburbs, but also in rural communities, where hospitals and physician practices are closing their doors at an alarming rate. Reversing that trend will require a combination of strategies encompassing workforce, infrastructure, payment models, transportation, technology, and more.

Wilson said there are four key reasons why RHI is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge:

  • Listening. RHI partners have conducted hundreds of community forums, listening sessions, and quantitative surveys throughout every corner of the healthcare industry. Wilson said listening to rural stakeholders will be foundational to the work.
  • Independence. RHI members bring an unbiased, third-party perspective that is not tied to a particular segment of the provider industry. As independent advisors, RHI can truly put individual community interests first, Wilson said.
  • Breadth. RHI brings together deep expertise in rural healthcare strategy, regulation, workforce, facilities, operations, and communications. Wilson said RHI’s unique collaborative structure was designed to offer comprehensive solutions to multifaceted problems.
  • Focus. RHI is made up of practitioners focused on real-world, actionable solutions for rural healthcare. Wilson said RHI’s practical approach can offer an important perspective with tailored approaches to rural healthcare problem-solving.

Wilson said RHI will immediately begin planning the initial steps in the process: soliciting input from rural communities and conducting comprehensive data and research analyses.

“We’re not here to swoop in with a one-size-fits-all solution,” he said. “Looking at the data and listening to stakeholders – that’s where it all has to start. I feel like this might have been overlooked in the past, and I’m grateful that North Carolina was willing to make the investment to really make a difference in rural healthcare.”