Emily Rice Published

Omnibus Bill To Establish CDC Office Of Rural Health

CDC headquarters in Atlanta in April. The CDC review made some recommendations so such a failure doesn't happen again.

The Federal 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes $5 million to establish an Office of Rural Health (ORH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A. Toni Young is the Executive Director of the Community Education Group (CEG) and a long-time advocate for vulnerable and at-risk communities, including advocacy for the establishment of the rural health office. .She works alongside lawmakers to combat public health crises, including HIV/AIDS, substance use disorder and opioid addiction and more.

“If we can get this office, then there’s a continuum of care for rural communities,” Young said. “So, from the prevention to thinking about it for prevention and planning at CDC, to the implementation and response that would happen at HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) in an office on Rural Health Policy, and if we can have that level of coordination, I think we can have a more robust response to the health needs of folks in rural communities, particularly in the Appalachian region.”

While the 2023 appropriations bill is still being deliberated by Congress, the establishment of the Office of Rural Health at the CDC is not being contested.

“Our focus is certainly to say, ‘We need you to see the folks of Appalachia and we need you to respond to the folks of Appalachia,” Young said. “So again, this is like a big picture saying, if we can put this piece of the puzzle together, then we can go back and say we now need you to develop a robust and coordinated plan for the health needs of the people of the Appalachian region.”

The ORH will enhance the implementation of CDC’s rural health portfolio, coordinate efforts across programs, and develop a strategic plan for rural health. The agreement also encourages ORH to accelerate innovation, make scientific and communication resources tailored to current rural public health needs, build and improve public health functions and service delivery and provide leadership in matters of public health infrastructure.

“Rural communities have been devastated by COVID-19 and other health disparities, and this new CDC office will be critical to increasing resources and raising awareness of rural Americans’ needs,” Young said. “One of the things that I think is really important for people to understand, is the role that Senators Manchin and Capito have played in this response. They too, they’ve asked the CDC, about West Virginia being included in ending the HIV epidemic. They’ve been supportive of this request for the CDC to get this Office of Rural Health.”