The late summer and autumn months have been an active time for the New York State Association for Rural Health’s policy and advocacy committee. Many NYS rural communities are feeling the negative impacts from wide ranging health program cuts included in the 2017-18 NYS budget. NYSARH is leading an effort to quantify the full impact of these cuts on rural New York State and to formulate a compelling message which can be shared with state policy makers.
Over the summer months we commissioned a survey which was circulated to all NYSARH members as well as other key rural stakeholders outside of the association. With an estimated $23.47 million cut from prevention, DSRIP support, Public Health and Work Force development funding, we sought to determine how were rural communities being effected and coping with the cuts, and how can this information help inform the 2018-19 NYSARH advocacy agenda and strategy?
We were thrilled to have well over 90 surveys returned, but we were alarmed at the program cut-backs, lay-offs, reduced community engagement and anticipated economic impact these counterproductive cuts are producing. Our respondents represent a wide swath of health related program sponsors to include: Rural Health Networks, Area Health Education Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, County Public Health Agencies, Area Offices for the Aging, Universities; Rural Hospitals; Providers of Social Determinant of Health services, PPSs; and Research institutions. The respondents were distributed across upstate New York.
The preliminary findings from the survey indicate that the cuts clearly harm the health of rural populations through loss of education, outreach, access, transportation programs, workforce development, and an assortment of other programs (direct service and prevention – addiction and opioid programs mentioned in high frequency). Additionally, the cuts also harm the economies of rural communities and their ability to leverage that funding for other funding and essential resources. This fact increases risk of the presence of social determinants which worsen health in these communities.
We are now drilling down on the data we have collected and looking at the impact at the county level….and we have some wonderful new resources to help us with our analysis and with our message formulation.We are very pleases to welcome two graduate school interns to the NYSARH policy and advocacy team.
Ms. Casey Harrison is currently a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at Stony Brook University. She is in her final year with an estimated graduation date of May 2018. Her advanced practice specialty is in Midwifery, and is working on a capstone project that will improve care for victims of domestic violence. Ms. Harrison reports that her passion is improving quality of life for women in her rural community, in the southern tier foothills of Western NY.
NYSARH also welcomes Ms. Katlyn Curtin who is currently a graduate student pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration at Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, State University at Albany and is concentrating in Health Policy. Ms. Curtin has completed pertinent course work in Health Law, Community Based Public Health, Social and Behavioral Aspects of Health, and Health Economics. Ms. Curtin states that she “seeks to advance her skills to advocate, organize, research, and communicate issues that are crucial to rural populations.”
We are excited to have these two highly motivated advance degree students on our Policy and Advocacy team. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the mid-winter and early spring policy season. Welcome aboard Katlyn and Casey!