Mission: The maryland rural health association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for the optimal health of rural communities and their residents.
Programs: Advocacy: growing presence in annapolis educating on the importance of improving the health of rural communities with a annual published legislative agenda and tracking of introduced legislation impacting rural health. Mrha has been instrumental in helping to ensure the health enterprise zone (hez) program recognized the growing disparity in health due to geographic isolation as part of the intent of the maryland health improvement and disparities reduction act of 2012, and reinstatement of funding for the rural maryland council (rmc) and maryland agriculture educational and rural development assistance fund (maerdaf) grant program in 2012 through a supplemental budget and in 2013 permanently in the governor's budget, as well as passage of telemedicine legislation 2012-2014 that will allow more readily telemedicine to be paid for and supported in rural communities. Education: mrha is the leader in educating statewide stakeholders on programs and practices important to keep rural maryland healthy and in continuing a statewide rural event through facilitation of three rural health conferences and the 2013 rural action assembly that brought together stakeholders from all rural regions of the state to understand and learn from each other on how to improve their community's health. Direct support to rural communities: mrha supported two spelling events on the eastern shore and one in western maryland to promote health careers to middle school students. Mrha retains scholarship funds for these rural students as they began to enter higher education through 2016. Mrha worked with the institute for a healthiest maryland (ihm), university of maryland nine months through this year to connect rural local health departments (lhds) and local health improvement coalitions (lhic)s to ihm. Mrha assisted rural communities with resources that might be appropriate to further the work of their identified community priorities. This technical assistance was completed mostly through outreach on resources and assistance on specific rural grant opportunities. This resulted in at least 8 grant applications submitted for over 3. 9 million dollars of requested funding for rural maryland. Partnered with the maryland citizens' health initiative (mchi) to improve rural outreach and enrollment of the uninsured. Part of this collaboration included four listening sessions with the rural connector entities to gain first-hand feedback on the implementation of the maryland health benefit exchange during the first enrollment period of the aca. The feedback from the listening sessions is aimed at improving access, quality, and affordability of health insurance in the state and to ensure that rural consumers have the necessary support to achieve equal enrollment opportunities as their urban counterparts.