It’s time to build a healthier America, especially in the rural parts of our nation.

For too long, leaders at all levels of government have undervalued and under supported rural communities and the health of their citizens. It’s time to address those many disparities, the lack of quality support and the lack of equity.

It’s time for policy-makers to listen to rural voices and act on the issues they identify. Ask candidates and office-holders what they will do to address the lack of equity for rural people and their communities. Ask how they will work to restructure the digital ecosystem to allow all Americans access to education, business and health care expertise. Ask how they will address the lack of healthcare workers in rural America.

Urban and rural people, Democrats and Republicans share many common needs, desires, values and resources. In this election year we need to focus on the “sense of the common” that still exists in our nation. We must realize that the challenge is not about power, money and dominance. It is about the need of an entire nation to address what we share if we are to advance as a society and people.

The nonprofit Healthier Rural America has created strategies and action plans. It lays out the issues and suggests ways to address those issues at

We must open our minds to the many values we share. We must listen to each other’s ideas. When rural America grows and benefits, all America grows and benefits.

Dennis Berens, Lincoln, past Nebraska Office of Rural Health director, Chief Rural Strategist, A Healthier WE and Phil Polakoff, MD, San Francisco, CEO, A Healthier WE, Consulting Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine

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  • Phil Polakoff

    MD, MPH, MEnvSc

    A Healthier WE

    He is a consulting professor, Stanford University School of Medicine and affiliated scholar, Stanford University Bill Lane Center for the American West. Dr. Polakoff’s career in health and health care spans forty-five years and includes clinical services, product innovation, network development, care management, organizational and business enhancement, policy formulation, communications and financing. Dr. Polakoff holds degrees from Cornell, Rutgers ,Wayne State University UC Berkeley and Oxford.