Representatives with the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force from Washington DC made a visit to the Knoxville Hospital and Clinics Tuesday afternoon. Senior Vice President of the Bipartisan Policy Center, Bill Hoagland tells KNIA/KRLS News the task force wants to understand the challenges that face rural hospitals in terms of access, quality and care. Hoagland says he was very interested in the hospital’s telemedicine and telehealth approach the hospital is taking. He says he was also very impressed by the way the hospital was able to not have doctors on call because he has found one of the big issues with rural hospitals is the quality of life for the clinicians and he says the Knoxville Hospital and Clinics has done a wonderful job of working that balance out. Since January 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed throughout the United States, and an additional 647 are at risk of folding, including 17 hospitals in Iowa. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60 million Americans living in rural areas are at a greater risk of dying from heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease than those living in urban and suburban areas.