New CHIR Case Study Examines Policies to Expand Primary Care Access in Rural Arkansas

By Maanasa Kona, Megan Houston, Jalisa Clark, and Emma Walsh-Alker

Primary care is a critical tool to prevent illness and death and improve equitable distribution of health care. However, many people lack primary care access, especially underserved groups such as communities of color and people living in rural areas.

In a new case study, published in collaboration with the Milbank Memorial Fund, CHIR researchers detail stakeholder efforts to expand primary care access in Columbia County, Arkansas—a county classified as a primary care health professional shortage area. Authors evaluated the effectiveness of state and local efforts to improve primary care access, such as increasing local training opportunities, bringing more outpatient clinics to the community, and expanding the scope of practice for non-physician providers.

A few of the health policy decisions studied, such as Medicaid expansion and workforce efforts, have improved access to primary care for underserved populations in Columbia County. Nevertheless, these efforts are insufficient. The state’s investment in primary care, whether focused on recruitment and retention of primary care clinicians expanding safety net clinics, has been limited and piecemeal. Many residents lack access to broadband for telehealth services or transportation to primary care appointments. And areas like Columbia County lack the financial and systemic support necessary to strategize about improving population health in the long term.

You can read the full case study here.

This work was supported by the National Institute for Health Care Reform.

1 Comment

  • DrCare247 says:

    I found the CHIR case study on expanding primary care access in rural Arkansas to be informative and inspiring. It highlights the importance of policy initiatives aimed at improving healthcare access in underserved areas. The study showcases how expanding Medicaid and implementing innovative care delivery models can make a significant difference in the lives of rural residents. It is encouraging to see efforts being made to address the healthcare disparities faced by rural communities and I hope that more such initiatives are implemented across the country.

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