Working in collaboration with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, 23 state legislators in Wisconsin have proposed a package of legislation to help reverse the decades-long population shift to cities and suburbs.
The package, referred to as the Rural Wisconsin Initiative, includes programs to support economic development, education, broadband expansion, workforce training and health care. In announcing the health care elements of their proposal last fall, the legislators pointed out that access to high-quality health care is a linchpin for the plan's success. Employers want to locate in communities with good health care assets; young families want to live in communities with good jobs; and both are needed to support thriving schools.
The rural health care proposal includes:
- A $250,000 annual grant program available to hospitals and schools that work together to train allied health professionals such as physical therapists and certified nursing assistants.
- A $750,000 annual grant program to create a training infrastructure for advanced practice clinicians in rural communities. This would support preceptors, tuition assistance and stipends for living expenses if a student relocates into a rural community for training.
- More funding for the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program. Created by the Legislature in 2010, this program funds residency opportunities in rural Wisconsin communities, because research shows that doctors frequently establish their practices in an area like the one they completed their residencies.
- Matching-fund grants to support the creation of wellness facilities and programs in underserved rural communities. To be eligible, a project must have a hospital or health system involved, and target a community’s health care needs.
- An annual grant of $100,000 to support quality-improvement activities by rural hospitals.