RUPRI’s Richgels discusses summertime experiences of rural children

Jocelyn Richgels, director of national policy programs for the Rural Policy Research Institute, was an invited panelist at a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine information gathering session held Sept. 19 in Washington, D.C.

The session was convened by the Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety. Richgels contributed perspectives on the summertime experiences of children and adolescents in rural communities.

The committee, chaired by Martín Sepúlveda, IBM Fellow, CEO of CLARALUZ, LLC., and long-time member of the College of Public Health Board of Advisors, is studying how summertime experiences affect children across four areas of well-being: 1) academic learning and opportunities for enrichment; 2) social and emotional development; 3) physical and mental health and health-promoting behaviors; and 4) safety, risk-taking, and anti-and pro-social behavior.

Additional information is available at

‘Assessing Rural Futures’ takes place Oct. 8

Assessing Rural Futures Using the Comprehensive Wealth Framework

Join a conversation about rural economies and sustainability! This seminar will define rural wealth and will share a framework to assess rural development. Lunch is provided!

Monday, Oct. 8
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Ellig Classroom (N120 CPHB)

Guest speakers:

Visiting Scholar Matt Fannin, PhD
William H. Alexander Professor and J. Nelson Fairbanks Professor of Rural and Community Development Economics Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at Louisiana State University and the LSU AgCenter

Visiting Scholar Thomas G. Johnson, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and Public Affairs at the University of Missouri

This spotlight is hosted by the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) and the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy (IIPHRP).

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the College of Public Health in advance at (319) 384-1500.

RUPRI examines causes and effects of rural pharmacy closings

A new research brief from the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis outlines the trends and issues surrounding the high rate of closures among independently owned rural pharmacies.

Researchers found that since 2002, more than 1,200 independently owned rural pharmacies in the United States have closed, with the most drastic decline occurring between 2007 and 2009. The report states that 630 rural communities that had at least one retail (independent, chain, or franchise) pharmacy in March 2003 had no retail pharmacy in March 2018. This decline has continued through 2018, although at a slower rate.

Keith Mueller, professor and head of health management and policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and director of the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, is the lead author on the report.

According to Mueller, the spike in rural pharmacy closures can be attributed to the financial challenges posed to these pharmacies by the implementation of Medicare Part D.

“The biggest challenge for these pharmacies is the delayed maximum allowable cost adjustment and remuneration fees that drive up the cost of providing medications when the payments from Medicare Part D and others do not keep pace,” he says.

The report also states that the closing of so many rural pharmacies can pose significant obstacles to residents living in these communities.

“Local pharmacists are part of the health care system who provide essential services such as counseling residents as prescriptions are filled, attending to residents with mild illnesses that can be treated with over-the-counter medications, providing immunizations, and supporting other local providers,” Mueller says. “Their departure creates a big gap in these communities.”

The report was co-authored by program director Fred Ullrich and doctoral student Abiodun Salako, both in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa.

The full brief is available at and was recently highlighted in The Washington Post’s “The Health: 202” newsletter.

Mueller testifies at Senate hearing on rural health care

On May 24, Keith Mueller, interim dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health and director and chair of RUPRI’s Rural Health Initiatives, testified at a United States Senate Finance Committee Public Hearing on rural health. The hearing focused on challenges and opportunities in rural health care delivery.

Paper looks at rural health policy initiatives, future opportunities

A recent paper from the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Health Panel examines the progress of national health policy initiatives and the gaps that remain as they affect rural people, places, and providers.

Professor and Interim Dean Keith Mueller.
Keith Mueller

According to Keith Mueller, RUPRI Health Panel Chair, professor of health management and policy, and interim dean at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the paper lays out clear policy trajectories in seven major subject areas that can enhance access and affordability of high quality services in rural America into the future. The subject areas included are Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, Insurance Coverage and Affordability, Quality, Health Care Finance and System Transformation, Workforce, and Population Health.

Each chapter begins with a summary of policy opportunities, followed by a background section on rural trends and challenges that summarizes rural-related policy advances and continued gaps. Each chapter concludes with a “Looking Ahead” section that highlights the most pressing issues in today’s rural health care system environment and suggests future policy directions related to each issue.

“We wanted to take a look at national policy initiatives such as Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance reform to take stock of progress made for rural communities and to develop clear statements of remaining challenges,” says Mueller. “Ultimately our goal is to help build a roadmap to achieve a high performance health system in all of rural America.”

A PDF of the paper is available at

Co-authors are Charles Alfero, Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS); Dr. Andrew F. Coburn, University of Southern Maine; Dr. Jennifer P. Lundblad, Stratis Health; Dr. A. Clinton MacKinney, University of Iowa; Dr. Timothy D. McBride, Washington University in St. Louis; and Dr. Paula Weigel, University of Iowa.

This report was funded by the by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, grant number 2017PG-RHC006.