WASHINGTON – Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) have urged the federal government to restore Allegany County’s rural designation, which will maintain local eligibility for federal rural health care funding. The Cardin-Delaney letter was sent to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In their letter, Rep. Delaney and Senator Cardin informed Sec. Burwell that Allegany County is a largely rural community and that access to vital health programs and services should be restored.
The text of the letter is below:
February 27, 2015
The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20201-0004
Dear Secretary Burwell,
We are writing to express our concern that Allegany County, Maryland, has been designated as an urbanized area containing no rural communities, disqualifying it from receiving federal rural health funding. We request that you take action to restore the county’s rural designation to preserve our constituents’ access to vital health programs and services.
The Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA) reports that Allegany County based funding for Western Maryland health programs has received $2 million in federal funding and created four new jobs over the past five years. These programs have achieved important successes for the rural community they serve, from increasing access to critical services like direct dental care and mental health services to recruiting and supporting a much needed rural health workforce.
We understand that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) uses rural designations made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and that ORHP and OMB designated Allegany County as a Metropolitan Statistical Areas with only metropolitan Rural-Urban Commuting Area codes. However, although Allegany County as a whole may no longer be considered rural under this methodology due to the impact of the Cumberland Metropolitan Statistical Area, the county remains a largely rural community. This re-designation unfairly disqualifies it from important targeted rural health funding.
Thank you for your attention on this important matter. We look forward to working with you to ensure that Allegany County continues to receive the federal funding needed to support quality health programs in this rural community.
Benjamin L. Cardin John K. Delaney
United States Senator Member of Congress