RCRC seeks to ensure adequate and appropriate health care access for its member counties' residents and the large population of visitors and tourists who recreate and vacation in our rural areas.  RCRC supports the expansion of telemedicine and teledentistry, and educational financing incentives such as student loan forgiveness or discounts to those health professionals committed to working in underserved areas.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided a large number of previously uninsured individuals with access to insurance, however, actually finding and receiving care is a different challenge, and RCRC is committed to working with state and local partners to ensure that the benefits of the ACA can be realized fully in rural areas.  Additionally, RCRC supports maintaining policy that ensures that rural counties receive sufficient funding under post-ACA realignment to continue providing care to the indigent population as required by state law.

Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA):  The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was signed into law in 1975, in an effort to limit non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.  RCRC has long supported the protection of the MICRA cap.  The cap on non-economic protects practitioners from exorbitant malpractice insurance rates.  Prior to the creation of that cap, California was losing providers, especially specialty services.  In rural and other medically underserved areas, changing the MICRA cap would increase costs associated with medical malpractice insurance, and threaten access to healthcare.  Increasing costs to providers, especially those in rural areas, could force them to reduce services or eliminate them altogether.  A change in MICRA could be devastating to rural communities where the provider pool is already limited.

Telehealth:  Access to healthcare in the most rural and remote parts of California have always been a concern.  RCRC supports increasing the availability of telehealth in rural areas as an alternative way for rural citizens to access healthcare, particularly specialty care.  Limited broadband availability, an aging workforce unused to advanced technology, and limitations on Medi-Cal and private insurance reimbursements for telehealth appointments are all barriers to making this type of care more robust and available in rural areas.  RCRC supports policies to remove these barriers and expand the reach of telemedicine and teledentistry to our rural citizens whose access to care are limited.

Staff:  Tracy Rhine