Liz Urbanski-Farrell has spent a career in the U.S. and elsewhere trying to change the health outcomes of people who live in rural areas.

As the new executive director of the New York state Association for Rural Health,  she told Capital Tonight that 44 of New York state’s 63 counties are either partly or fully rural, a number that comprises 85% of the state, including enormous swaths of upstate.

“It’s a challenge for folks because even if they could go an hour-and-a-half to a facility…they have to take time off of work to get there and they have to have the money to do that,” Urbanski-Farrell explained. “They have to have the kind of job that would allow them to take up to a full day to go somewhere else for health care.”

More on this issue here.

While telehealth has made some inroads, it can be more costly than traditional care because of infrastructure and privacy requirements. Additionally, traditional health services have seen flat funding in New York for several years.

“We really would like to see the Legislature and Congress looking at those funding sources and understand that we need you to give greater support because their costs have not gone down in rural areas, and in fact, are continuing to increase,” she explained. “I know we’re going to save money down the line by investing in rural healthcare now.”