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Where you live shouldn't determine your ability to access health care

Wyoming Nurses Association representative, senators outline problems with health care delivery

January 29, 2013

Having one doctor per 3,500 people in New York City means one thing.  It has an entirely different meaning when that one doctor serves 3,500 people across more than 10,000 square miles in Wyoming.  Washington can do a better job of taking these factors into account when setting up federal health care programs, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and the Wyoming Nurses Association’s Toni Decklever.

Enzi and Decklever participated in a Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging hearing today about the delivery of health care.  Enzi said improving technology could help states like Wyoming. 

“We need to think more creatively about how to use technology services to improve telemedicine capabilities, so that where a person lives has less impact on the level of care they are able to receive. The advancement of more powerful wireless technology has substantial potential to remotely link individuals across the country to deliver health care in more accessible settings,” Enzi said.

Enzi and Decklever both said there is more that can be done to better align federal programs to meet the needs of rural and frontier states.  The criteria that determine eligibility for federal funds to support rural health programs are based on factors that make it difficult to prove the needs of the underserved in rural and frontier areas.  They both used the people per doctor ratio as an example.

“I hope this hearing will make it clear that we need to think more creatively and figure out ways in which all Americans can better access primary care services and ways to ensure health care professionals are employed where they are most needed,” Enzi said.

Video from today’s hearing can be accessed here. Written testimony from the hearing can be accessed here.