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For Immediate Release September 10, 1999
                      VICE PRESIDENT GORE LAUNCHES 
                           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
Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Alabama Department of Public Health
Arkansas Department of Health
The University of Arizona
California Department of Health Services Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Florida Department of Health
Georgia Department of Human Resources Hawaii Department of Health
Iowa Department of Public Health
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Illinois Department of Public Health
Indiana Department of Health
Kansas Department of Health and Environment Kentucky Department for Public Health
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Massachusetts Department of Public Health Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Maine Department of Human Services
Michigan Department of Community Health Minnesota Department of Health
Missouri Department of Health
Mississippi Department of Health
Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Nebraska Health and Human Services System New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services New Mexico Department of Health
University of Nevada School of Medicine New York Department of Health
Ohio Department of Health
Oklahoma Department of Health
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
South Dakota Department of Health
Tennessee Department of Health
Texas Department of Health
Virginia Department of Health
Vermont Department of Health
Washington Department of Health
Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Wyoming Department of Health