Thursday, January 1, 2009

Getting rural input on healthcare reform

I was heartened to read in the New York Times a few days ago that among the thousands of meetings being held around the country to discuss health care reform, some are being held in rural places. The NYT headline was "Little Town Beseeches Obama's Health Chief," and the dateline for Bob Driehaus' story Dublin, Indiana, population 697. The story reports that Tom Daschle, who is expected to become Secretary of Health and Human Services and who will direct the White House Office of Health Reform, attended the community meeting, where he was joined by local and regional health care professionals and administrators in listening to tales of residents' struggles with Medicare, as well as regarding the affordability of and denial of health insurance.

With so many indications (such as those discussed here and here) that Obama and his team are particularly oriented to urban people, places, and problems, I am relieved to see this solicitation of input from rural communities. Recent reports, like those here, here and here over at the Daily Yonder, indicate the rural Americans are more challenged than their urban counterparts when it comes to getting and keeping health insurance--and health care professionals. Indeed, a story on the front page of the Washington Post today reports on a shortage of general surgeons in rural America.

I see few signs from media coverage that the Obama administration is switched on to the issues facing rural America and how they may differ from the presumptive urban norm, but maybe health care will be an exception. And maybe, as I suggested hopefully back in November, Tom Daschle's rural roots are one of the reasons.

1 comment:

Brian Depew said...

Some of the most powerful players in the debate over health care reform are members of congress representing large rural constituencies. If rural people stand up and urge these members of congress to fight for meaningful reform, they will be playing an important role in reform for the entire country.