Let’s talk about rural health care

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One of the most pressing issues for Minnesota is how to ensure medical care for people in rural areas.

Increasingly, that’s a difficult proposition. Rural hospitals are losing money as they try to provide health care no longer covered by the state General Assistance Medical Care program. A growing number are trying to cut their losses while still providing care for the poorest of the poor.

Faced with growing deficits, hospital officials wonder if they can afford high-tech machines to treat patients.

The problem is particularly acute in Virginia, on Minnesota’s Iron Range, where the Virginia Regional Medical Center is struggling. A big part of the problem in rural areas is the low reimbursement rates from federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

At noon today, Minnesota Public Radio News and the weekly newspaper Hometown Focus will host an online forum about the challenges facing rural health providers in Virginia and beyond.

Among the participants will be Michelle Fleming, Chief Nursing Officer for the Virginia Regional Medical Center; Al Vogt, chairman of the Minnesota Wilderness Health Care Coalition; Virginia Mayor Steve Peterson and Dr. Wendell Smith, a surgeon who is on the VRMC hospital commission.

Please join us.

David Cazares is the print and Statewide Blog editor for Minnesota Today

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