Jackson, Mississippi, Jul 30, 2013 -- The deputy administrator for USDA's Rural Utilities Service, Jessica Zufolo, joined Mississippi health care leaders and stakeholders today at a workshop to discuss funding opportunities to improve patient care and reduce costs through Information Technology (IT) infrastructure in rural Mississippi hospitals.
"This workshop is an example of how the Obama Administration is leveraging resources across the federal government to meet the health care needs of rural Americans," Zufolo said. "USDA is collaborating with the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a pilot effort here in Mississippi to expand access to broadband to support health information exchanges between hospitals."
The workshop at the Mississippi Hospital Association is a part of an ongoing series of regional funding workshops and stakeholder roundtables supported through USDA Rural Development's Smart Rural Communities Initiative. The workshops have included discussions on rural outreach, how rural hospitals can leverage funding from state and federal governmental programs – including those from USDA – and how to link the needs of rural hospitals with information technology to improve health care delivery in rural America.
USDA works closely with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to address the broadband and IT infrastructure costs and challenges facing rural communities.
According to Deputy Administrator Zufolo, today's meeting is also yet another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. Zufolo said that a comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, and added that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).