Thompson Announces Task Force to Enhance HHS Services in Rural Communities
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson last week announced the creation of a Rural Task Force to examine how the agency's programs can better serve rural communities, including increasing rural hospitals' access to new technology. The task force will look for ways to enhance delivery of health and social services by strengthening HHS programs and removing regulatory barriers, as well as by improving delivery systems at the state level. It will also identify programs that might require additional funding. Thompson said HHS will work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture to improve those departments' hospital financing programs, in order to increase rural hospitals' access to the capital necessary for upgrading technology, equipment and facilities. He also said HHS will develop a "tool chest" to help rural hospitals improve performance; tools could include access to the same level of technical advice and support services to which urban medical centers have access. Thompson asked the Rural Task Force to complete a report and strategic plan for change within three months (HHS release, 7/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.