Fall is traditionally a time for change and I’ve noticed the cooler air in the morning and the leaves starting to turn a beautiful shade of yellow. I love the summer, but growing up in the Midwest, I gained a love for the changing seasons. Fall is one of my favorites.

Along with the leaves changing you may have noticed that CRHC launched our new website this month. Our new site reflects CRHC’s commitment to providing resources, tools, and a clearinghouse for rural health information. We redesigned the site to be easy and to allow for quick access to the information you need, and it can be accessed on computers and mobile devices.

One of the new documents available on our website is the 2014 Snapshot of Rural Health in Colorado. Each year the Snapshot of Rural Health is prepared as a resource to highlight and advance interest in rural health issues in Colorado. A strong statewide healthcare infrastructure must be inclusive of the unique needs in rural areas. The Snapshot highlights that 73 percent of Colorado’s 64 counties are rural and 18 percent of the population, or 965,106 people, live in rural counties. Five rural counties have less than one person per square mile and the median age is between 45 and 64 versus 18 and 44 in urban counties. We also know that an income gap between rural and urban counties continues with the median household income in rural counties being 26.5 percent less than in urban counties. Nearly 10 percent of families living in rural counties live below the federal poverty level and 24.5 percent of children residing in rural counties live in poverty. Rural Coloradans have a higher rate of uninsurance (20.6 percent) compared to their urban counterparts (15.1 percent) and even post-ACA implementation, rural residents do not have as many choices as urban residents in terms of premiums, plans, and plan types. The cost of health coverage per month on a silver plan for a rural 50-year-old is $532 compared to an urban resident of the same age, at $352. The good news is that 43,869 lives changed in rural Colorado due to individuals enrolled in private health coverage through Connect for Health Colorado and through the Medicaid expansion.

In addition to the Snapshot availability as a resource to highlight and advance rural health issues, we at CRHC are looking forward to the 23rd Annual Rural Health Conference. This year we will be returning to Hotel Elegante in Colorado Springs, October 16 – 17, 2014. This year we are excited to have a robust agenda including telemedicine, meaningful use, health information exchange, workforce, data, quality, finances, policy, culture change, and courageous leadership. Register today and I look forward to seeing you in October!

Much is happening in healthcare. Check out my monthly CEO update for the latest in rural healthcare.

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