Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg revealed a new healthcare plan on Friday, specifically targeting healthcare in rural America, with special focus on Black women.
In a release detailing his plan, the Southbend, Indiana, mayor acknowledges that Black women living in rural America are more likely to get sick and die younger than women living in urban areas. His plan details proposals to not only increase access to healthcare for Black women, but to end the Black maternal health crisis.
“Pete’s vision for health in rural America is one where a Black mother isn’t forced to drive hours to meet an OBGYN and his plan gets us closer to where a doctor can remotely monitor a diabetic patient’s blood sugar while she cooks a meal at home,” the release notes.
Buttigieg’s plan focuses on providing workforce development grants specific to maternal health professions, reforming Medicaid coverage to cover post-delivery care, and collecting data through funding the maternal mortality review and other efforts in order to identify ways to improve access to quality health care treatment for Black women and Black mothers.
The plan highlights geographic isolation, as well as a shortage in providers, which makes it difficult for rural Americans, particularly Black Americans, to seek out preventive care and treatment. The plan seeks to increase investment, and thus access, through virtual care and broadband infrastructure.
“Expanding the scope, deployment, and funding for virtual care services – including telehealth – and building out broadband infrastructure will improve access to care and reduce treatment gaps for Black Americans in rural communities,” the release notes.
Further: “Improving access to critical health care services through investments in workforce development and virtual care, expanding coverage, and addressing systemic health inequities will move the needle in addressing …health disparities between Black and white rural Americans.”
Buttigieg’s plan also addresses hospital closures and other provider shortages, guaranteeing access to affordable health coverage through Medicare “for all who want it,” with the release noting that rural Black Americans are more likely to not seek medical care due to the cost and not being insured.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate is also planning a new rural emergency medical center designation in order to allow hospitals to provide emergency and outpatient services, without having to provide inpatient services. He will also seek to expand Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation models for rural hospitals in order to boost financial security for those hospitals.
That’s not all. Buttigieg intends to expand and restructure programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and the National Health Service Corps, in order to give medical professionals an incentive to work in rural communities.