Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some rural consequences of the pared down California budget

I am happy to see Jennifer Steinhauer's report on the just-agreed California budget also mention its consequences for rural places. Here's the excerpt from her story, "In Budget Deal, California Dream Meets Grim Reality."

The fallout is already evident. ... In Eureka, near the Oregon border, the Old Town Dental Center is about to close. Its patient base is 90 percent Medicaid, and the state’s program will no longer pay for anything beyond tooth extractions.

“There are a lot of people that are just not showing up,” said Nicole Eleck, the receptionist there. “Half our patients are saying, ‘If something bothers me, I will wait until it needs to get pulled.’ ”

Herrmann Spetzler, the chief executive of Open Door Community Health Centers, which operates 10 clinics in rural northern California, said clinics that are the only providers for miles around might close.

“If you sit in our waiting room, you will see the faces of everyone who lives in our region,” he said. “There is the local judge, the policeman, the mom with kids and the homeless person. In my health centers, we’ve had $5 million in cut since July, and we don’t know what the future will bring.”

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