Archive for April 7, 2009
Health Care Reform Update: Rural Health Care and Primary Care Physician Shortage in Iowa
by Alta L. Price, M.D.
The Commonwealth Fund, “a private foundation working toward a high performance health system,” publishes a handy Washington Health Policy Week in Review. In the March 30 issue is a summary of a hearing held by the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, chaired by Henry Waxman (D-California): “Waxman Wants Universal Coverage But More Doctors Too.”
“House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman said Tuesday that a congressional overhaul of the health care system must not only provide for universal coverage but also for more primary care doctors and nurses to ensure that an insurance card actually gives the holder access to treatment.
“When our Committee takes up health reform, we will provide coverage for the uninsured,” the California Democrat told a hearing by the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee. “However, I also want to make sure that our legislation addresses the barriers to access that insurance coverage by itself can't fix,” he said.”
The witnesses at the hearing addressed the scope of the shortage of primary care physicians, the reasons for the shortage, and possible solutions. The whole article is worth a read, partly because Iowa faces more than its share of problems in this area, due to our many rural communities. In fact, Dr. Michael Kitchell, a practicing neurologist in Ames, Iowa, and president-elect of the Iowa Medical Society, testified at the hearing at the invitation of Representative Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who is a member of the Subcommittee:
Dr. Kitchell described problems with access to care in rural areas. “Rural citizens make up over 20 percent of the nation's population, but only 9 percent of our nation's physicians reside in rural areas,” he said. Rural doctors face lower pay and longer hours and vacancies for physicians go unfilled for years, he said. Recruiting won't improve until payment changes. “Physician shortages in rural areas are largely caused by Medicare payment policies that geographically penalize rural physicians,” he said, adding that President Obama has urged “geographic equity” in payment. “I hope Congress will agree with President Obama: there should be geographic equity.”
Finally, if you want to get involved in local discussions about health care reform in rural Iowa, come to one of the forums sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs listed below.
Farm, faith, rural and labor organizations are joining forces to conduct community forums on the impact of health care reform in rural America.
The Center for Rural Affairs is co-hosting five forums across Iowa in April to discuss how health care reform will impact Iowa's small businesses, family farmers and rural communities.
Our current health care system is not working for rural America. Too often farmers and rural small business owners are forced to purchase coverage in the individual market where they pay more and receive less. Without adequate health care, rural communities suffer. On the other hand, health care reform that works for all of America will spur entrepreneurial rural development and stimulate our rural economy.
The Center for Rural Affairs is working with Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Citizen Action Network and members of Health Care for America Now Iowa to host five forums across Iowa to talk about these issues and what you can do to make a difference.
Iowa Forums for Health Care Reform
Monday, April 6th, 6-8 PM
City Council Chambers
220 Clay Street
Cedar Falls, IA
Tuesday, April 7th, 6-8 PM
22 North Georgia Street
Mason City, IA
Wednesday, April 15, 5-6 PM
Ottumwa Public Library
102 W 4th St
Thursday, April 16, 6-8 PM
1st Presbyterian Church
1025 5th Ave
Wednesday, April 22, 6-8 PM
Western Iowa Tech.
4647 Stone Avenue
Sioux City, Iowa (Parking in parking lot # 3, Enter through Entrance # 11 and we will be in room L416/417)
If you want more information, have questions or want to let us know you'll be attending one of these meetings, please contact Virginia Wolking at (402) 687-2100 or email@example.com.
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa. E-Mail Alta Price