Thursday, June 18, 2009

Health reform hinges on rural 'leap of faith,' says 6,000-circulation newspaper in Nebraska

Health-insurance reform is not going to be pretty for anyone, but it will require a special leap of faith from those in rural America, an editorial in the McCook Daily Gazette of Nebraska says, showing how small-circulation newspapers (in this case, 6,000) can and should weigh in on important national issues.

Among the changes discussed are plans to cut up to $300 billion from current levels of Medicare and Medicaid spending over the next decade, the adoption of new technologies and improved disease-management systems, and finding ways to address the geographic differences in Medicare spending. But, the editorial notes that federal health-insurance plans already pay doctors 20 to 40 percent less than private insurance. To make up for the difference, every family covered privately is billed an extra $1,800.

While many rural residents want health reform, they wonder how cost-cutting of already reduced prices is going to help the situation. “Expecting the mutually exclusive idea of 'government efficiency' to make up the difference in time to keep a number of rural hospitals from going out of business is beyond belief,” the paper says. Other concerns about how health care quality measures like lines, lack of specialty physicians and access, and so on would be affected by reform measures are worrisome. The editorial concludes, “Rural America will have to be on its guard to avoid being shortchanged in health care reform.” (Read more)

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