By TODD GOTTULA
KEARNEY – The Nebraska Rural Health Association has presented its annual President’s Award to Allan Jenkins, economics professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Jenkins was honored at the NeRHA’s member conference Sept. 21 in Kearney.
In addition to being recognized for policy advocacy on Medicaid expansion and independent practice for advanced practice nurses, Jenkins was noted for his role in creating internship opportunities for UNK students at rural hospitals.
“There are many hard-working, dedicated people out there who have made a major impact on health care in rural Nebraska. There is no doubt that Allan Jenkins has had a significant impact in improving the health for all Nebraskans,” said Dale Gibbs, president of the NeRHA. “He is one of the true champions of rural and public health in Nebraska.”
During his 30-year career at UNK, Jenkins has focused on policy-related courses including public finance, environmental economics and health care economics. He coordinated the 2011 and 2013 JCM Symposiums, with the 2013 event specifically focused on health care. Nine of the 14 symposium speakers represented rural hospitals or agencies.
Jenkins and colleague Ron Konecny, UNK Department of Management professor, have completed Tax Increment Financing statutory reports for more than .2 billion in investment spending in Nebraska, including a recent report for the proposed second hospital in Grand Island.
“Allan is effective at networking and bringing a fresh perspective to policy issues. His professional engagement in rural health issues, his academic advocacy on rural issues, and his support of students considering careers in rural health is unmatched in Nebraska,” said Gibbs.
Nebraska’s Unicameral had twice rejected Medicaid expansion when Jenkins and Konecny prepared a report on the costs and benefits of Medicaid expansion in Nebraska. The central argument of the report was that rural hospitals are essential to economic growth and sustainability, cornerstones of the community and comprise a critical component of local economic infrastructure.
Jenkins’ advocacy efforts include testifying at the Unicameral and in Washington D.C.
“His presence in rural health is well established, and his expertise will be essential in the coming years as rural health care continues to face proportional disparity in reimbursement cuts, participation in quality programs and significant financial stress,” Gibbs said.