Iroqouis

The newly established Rural Health Council means good things for health care in New York, advocates say.

The Iroquois Healthcare Association initiative was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Nov. 30.

The Rural Health Council will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2018, however, this statutory establishment in law is important because it “creates a platform for rural health issues to be discusses and examined,” IHA President Gary J. Fitzgerald said in a press release.

The council is made up of local rural area health care providers in New York state, including Central New York, who will advise the state Health Commissioner on all aspects of rural health care and delivery. The council will also contribute biennial reports to the governor, Legislature, and regional economic councils on the status of health-care workforce supply in their regions.

Rural areas of upstate New York present unique health-care challenges as needed care ranges from primary to emergency care, sometimes to the most vulnerable populations, state Sen. Kemp Hannon said in a press release. Some families in rural communities don’t even have the necessary transportation to access quality health care, and “this law will help change that by ensuring the council’s work is thorough and truly takes into account our needs,” Assemblyman Billy Jones said in a press release.

Officially establishing this council into law affirms the importance of health care providers in rural areas, and strengthens their ability to voice the unique challenges of their geographic locations and influence new policy development, regulations, and best practices, the council said.

Staff Writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at 315-282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net or on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.