(1) The Legislature finds that (a) residents of rural Nebraska frequently encounter difficulties in obtaining medical care due to the lack of health care providers, facilities, and services, (b) many rural communities experience problems in recruiting and retaining health care providers, (c) rural residents are often required to travel long distances in order to obtain health care services, (d) elderly and uninsured persons constitute a high proportion of the population in rural Nebraska, (e) many rural hospitals are experiencing declining patient revenue and are being forced to reconsider the scope and nature of the health care services they provide, (f) the physical and economic stresses of rural living can lead to an increased need for mental health services in rural Nebraska, (g) the conditions described in this section can lead to situations in which residents of rural Nebraska receive a lower level of health care services than their urban counterparts, and (h) some of the conditions described in this subsection also exist in underserved portions of metropolitan areas within the state.
(2) The Legislature further finds that the health care industry is a vital component of the economic base of many rural communities and that the maintenance and enhancement of this industry can play a significant role in efforts to further the economic development of rural communities.
(3) The Legislature further finds that the inherent limitations imposed upon health care delivery mechanisms by the rural environment can be partially overcome through a greater emphasis on the development of health care systems that emphasize the linkage and integration of health care resources in neighboring communities as well as the development of new resources.
(4) The Legislature further finds that postsecondary education of medical, dental, and mental health professionals is important to the welfare of the state. The Legislature further recognizes and declares that the state can help alleviate the problems of maldistribution and shortages of medical, dental, and mental health personnel through programs offering financial incentives to practice in areas of shortage.