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For Immediate Release September 10, 1999


                            IN RURAL AMERICA

     Today, Vice President Al Gore launched a new Rural Hospital

Flexibility Program to improve access to health care in rural communities and develop networks to expand and improve health care services.

"For people living in rural communities rural hospitals are a lifeline, and yet today 20 million Americans in our rural communities do not have adequate access to quality health care," Vice President Al Gore said. "That is why we are taking this important step to help assure that rural hospitals can meet the health care needs of working families."

The new $125 million Rural Hospital Flexibility Program is designed to bring together local and community based organizations that provide or support health care service delivery, including hospitals, clinics, local public health agencies, emergency medical service providers, and local government to help determine how care can be delivered more effectively, what resources are needed, and what problems and barriers must be overcome to achieve better health care for all rural working families.

The new program will enable states to designate certain hospitals as "critical access hospitals", or CAHs, and assure they get the funding they need to improve care in ways that best meet the needs of each community. These grants will also be used to improve the coordination of local health care services and to help hospitals provide expanded primary care services. Isolated rural residents often go without critical primary care services that can turn into complicated and debilitating conditions because of a lack of locally-based primary care providers.

In 1997, more than 54 million Americans lived in rural areas, making up 20 percent of the U.S. population. Of those, more than 20 million have inadequate access to health care.

The list of grantees in 43 states that are receiving the first major set of awards ($13 million) today is attached.


                    Rural Hospital Flexibility Program
                       Fiscal Year 1999 Grant Awards
----------------------------------------------------------------------                                                             |
 Grantee                                                Grant Award 

 Alaska Department of Health & Social Services          $382,705

 Alabama Department of Public Health                     162,650

 Arkansas Department of Health                           478,381

 The University of Arizona                               124,379

 California Department of Health Services                220,055

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 382,705

Florida Department of Health 191,352

Georgia Department of Human Resources 411,408

Hawaii Department of Health 162,650

Iowa Department of Public Health 231,378

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare 334,867

Illinois Department of Public Health 478,381

Indiana Department of Health 287,029

Kansas Department of Health and Environment 550,138

Kentucky Department for Public Health 191,352

Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals 220,055

Massachusetts Department of Public Health 81,325

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene 83,717

Maine Department of Human Services 124,379

Michigan Department of Community Health 224,839

Minnesota Department of Health 550,138

Missouri Department of Health 81,325

Mississippi Department of Health 171,403

Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services 574,057

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services 287,029

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and 541,712 Health Sciences

Nebraska Health and Human Services System 550,138

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services 95,676

New Mexico Department of Health 153,082

University of Nevada School of Medicine 220,055

New York Department of Health 550,138

Ohio Department of Health 95,676

Oklahoma Department of Health 478,381

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental 263,110 Control

South Dakota Department of Health 287,029

Tennessee Department of Health 399,448

Texas Department of Health 478,381

Virginia Department of Health 167,433

Vermont Department of Health 167,433

Washington Department of Health 550,138

Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services 550,138

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources 358,786

Wyoming Department of Health 220,055

Total $13,114,506