WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reinforced his support for rural Ohio and hospitals in the region following a new report that found the Appalachian region faces unique health challenges and lack of access to care and doctors.  

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and the Foundation for Health Kentucky authored the report, Health Disparities in Appalachia. The report compares health indicators of the Appalachian Region to those of the nation as a whole, and found substantial disparities in health outcomes and other health-related factors in Ohio’s Appalachian Region.

“This study reveals what we know is true about the unique health challenges Appalachian Ohioans are facing,” said Brown. “From finding doctors in the area to increasing wages and household income, there is more work to be done to get Ohioans access to the health care they need. We must continue to invest in this region through sources like the Appalachian Regional Commission and Rural Development program, so that we can improve the livelihoods of Ohioans in the Appalachian Region.”

Key report findings for Appalachian Ohio include:

  • Higher Rate of Cancer Deaths: Appalachian Ohio’s cancer mortality rate is 15 percent higher than the national rate and five percent higher than that of non-Appalachian Ohio.
  • Lack of Primary and Specialty Physicians: The supply of primary care physicians in Appalachian Ohio is 25 percent lower than the national average, and 30 percent lower than the average in non-Appalachian Ohio. Supply of specialty physicians in Appalachian Ohio is 60 percent lower than the national average, and 65 percent lower than the average in non-Appalachian Ohio.
  • Lower Median Household Income: The median household income in Appalachian Ohio is 22 percent lower than the national median, and 15 percent less than the median income in non-Appalachian Ohio.

In July, Brown released a report outlining devastating impacts repealing the Affordable Care Act would have had on rural communities in the Appalachian Region, including health care coverage loss, hospital closures, job loss and cuts to opioid and substance abuse treatment services.

Brown has pushed to expand resources to Ohio’s Appalachian Region, and helped secure federal funds for research, infrastructure and economic development projects across the Appalachian Region. In March, Brown blasted President Trump’s proposal to eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) entirely, citing the need to stimulate local economies, provide job training, expand broadband access in rural areas, and support for local infrastructure projects.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, Brown supported a strong Rural Development title. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development grants fund everything from building hospitals, to combatting opioids, to wastewater treatment infrastructure.