Rural America 2020 is dedicated to our rural communities and supports policies that contribute to the economic and physical health of our rural communities and rural citizens. Our state steering committees help determine our policy priorities by listening to people on the ground in rural communities across America.
Support for Rural Health Care.
Across the United States, rural health care clinics and hospitals have closed or been persistently underfunded. Twelve states (Wyoming, Texas, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas and Florida) have refused to expand Medicaid that would help fund delivery of services into rural areas. According to research conducted by the University of North Carolina, 173 rural hospitals have closed since 2005 and 700 more are currently at risk of closure. With the COVID pandemic increasingly reaching into the remotest corners of America, it is critical that we have a fully functioning health system in our rural areas. From telemedicine to rural health clinics and hospitals, America needs to invest in rural health care.
Rural America 2020 supports efforts to expand health care in our rural communities.
Support for an Effective COVID Response.
COVID-19 has killed well over 150,000 Americans. While the epicenter of this crisis began in our urban areas, it is increasingly reaching into our rural communities, overwhelming rural hospitals and senior assisted living facilities. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, rural Americans may be at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because they:
- Are older than non-rural populations;
- Having higher rates of underlying chronic disease even after adjusting for age;
- Are more likely to have a disability;
- Have limited access to rural healthcare.
Rural America 2020 supports creation of an effective, coordinated federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, deployment of widespread COVID-19 testing, and providing the financial and other resources needed for our rural communities to be safe and to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Support for the U.S. Postal Service.
For over 200 years, the U.S. Postal Service has delivered dependable and fast postal service to rural communities all across America. Enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the USPS is a lifeline to our communities and the underpinning of our Democracy.Now more than ever, this service is vital to our communities. FedEx and UPS do not deliver to many remote communities, relying instead on the USPS. Veterans rely on the USPS for appointment scheduling and fully 80% of prescriptions filled to veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs are delivered by USPS. Seniors similarly rely on USPS for their social security checks. And in election years, the USPS is critical for delivering mail in ballots – especially in remote rural communities that may not have polling locations.
Rural America 2020 supports funding for the USPS and insists that this vital institution is given the tools and resources that it needs to continue to serve our rural communities.
Support for American Agriculture.
Recent years have been devastating to U.S. agriculture with farms now facing record levels of debt and farm bankruptcies increasing by 24% in the last year alone. Many policies have contributed to this farm crisis: the trade war with China; the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory tariffs; the trade disputes and tariffs with the European Union, and the refinery waivers that have undercut ethanol markets.
Rural America 2020 supports free and fair trade that benefits U.S. agriculture and supports the rollback of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs. Rural America 2020 opposes the issuance of unnecessary refinery waivers and supports our nation’s ethanol producers.
Support for Rural Education.
For our children to thrive and have a chance in this modern world, they must have access to high quality education. That means we must invest in our schools and in our teachers. About half of all U.S. public school districts are considered rural, and they collectively enroll some 12 million students, or one-quarter of the total public school population. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, educational disparities in rural areas contribute to the large earnings gap experienced by people living in rural areas. At a time when COVID is increasing the costs of education, it is critically important that we provide our rural schools with the resources they need to protect our educators and staff and to safely provide a high quality education to our children.
Rural America 2020 supports funding for our rural schools and supports providing our schools the personal protective equipment and other resources needed to keep our teachers, staff, and students safe.
Support for Rural Broadband.
Rural communities across America suffer from having low bandwidth internet connectivity. The FCC estimates that 19 million Americans do not have a fast internet connection. While this includes many families in urban and suburban settings, rural communities are frequently lacking in high-speed connectivity. This is a significant drag on business recruitment efforts and interferes with our ability to educate our children and compete in the modern world. This is especially true in a time of COVID when rural communities increasingly rely on remote learning and telemedicine. Investments in our broadband infrastructure cannot wait.
Rural America 2020 supports efforts to finance and deploy broadband technology to all of our rural communities.