There is no place like Nebraska, and my family has been fortunate to call it home for six generations. The experience of living in a rural area is something not found anywhere else. The wide open spaces, unmatched work ethic, and life-long friendships make our small towns unique. This isn’t to say we do not face struggles living in a rural area. My goal since coming to Congress is to provide solutions to these challenges and strengthen rural America for the future.
One issue facing rural Nebraska is gaining access to the same quality health care more urban communities receive. There are 111 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in the Third District. RHCs provide essential primary care and preventative services in rural and underserved areas, either independently or affiliated with a hospital with fewer than 50 beds. Due to outdated regulations and other obstacles, there has been a nationwide trend of these clinics closing. To many in rural areas, this is the only form of primary care.
To counter this trend, I have introduced, with bipartisan support, the Rural Health Clinic Modernization Act (H.R. 2788). This legislation would remove outdated requirements for onsite laboratory equipment which is no longer used, expand the ability of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to provide care in RHCs, and improve access to telehealth in rural areas by allowing clinics to function as a distant site to provide telehealth services.
Another bill I have sponsored, along with my colleague Representative Terri Sewell, is the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act (H.R. 2147). The RURAL Act would expand tax-exempt rural electric co-ops access to assistance, while continuing to ensure rural electric co-ops are largely funded by their membership as a condition of their tax-exempt status. Strong foundations for our nation’s infrastructure are important for rural Americans to also benefit from our growing nationwide economy.
With the majority in Congress coming heavily from urban districts, it is more important than ever to keep rural issues at the forefront. To do so, I am continuing to serve as co-chair of the Congressional Rural Caucus. The Rural Caucus is a bipartisan group of members from rural areas committed to developing the economy and quality of life in rural America.
Rural interests need to have a united voice in Congress to help deliver workable solutions to strengthen our way of life. I am proud to call rural Nebraska home, and am committed to ensuring future generations are able to experience an even greater rural Nebraska.