Health care in Maine is a conundrum—especially for rural communities. On the one hand, the health care sector is the state’s largest source of jobs, and in many rural counties, health care makes up a disproportionally higher share of overall employment. The health care sector provides many meaningful opportunities for employment for rural community members. On the other hand, issues like the lack of access to affordable care, the shortages of health care providers, the rapid changes in health care payment and delivery, can take their toll on the quality of life in rural communities.
This health care conundrum is driving rural businesses, educators, providers, municipalities, payers, and other stakeholders to consider how the current system might evolve. That’s why the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) has begun an effort to assist rural communities to assess and promote ideas and strategies for improving rural health systems. Toward that end, MeHAF hosted a conference on Advancing Rural Health System Transformation on November 10, 2016 at the Cross Center in Bangor with over 100 people in attendance.