Just one-sixth of the Minnesota's doctors practice in rural areas. Services are further apart than in urban areas and often more difficult to access.
“We need sustainable, long-term, affordable, solutions in rural communities,” said Steve Gottwalt, executive director of the Minnesota Rural Health Association.
Severe workforce shortages are compounded by the fact that rural Minnesotans are, on average, older, less healthy, and have lower incomes than their urban counterparts, Gottwalt told the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee Thursday during a presentation of the “2017 State of Minnesota Rural Health.” No action was taken.
Older people often require more health care and depend more heavily on Medicare coverage, while those with low incomes rely on Medicaid. Since public health care programs don’t always fully reimburse providers for the cost of care, it strains rural health care facilities, Gottwalt said.
“We have big gaps in our service,” said Todd Lemke, director of pharmacy for CentraCare Health System. “People are paying large deductibles (and) choosing not to pay for products that they really need, services that they really need. We see that every day.”
Opioid abuse is a particular problem in rural areas as treatment programs are few and far between, Gottwalt said.
“It is an epidemic with too many people dying, too many people winding up at hospital with opioid abuse problems,” he said.
Legislation passed in 2015 allows more opportunities for the use of telemedicine, which circumvents the struggle to find highly qualified people willing to live in rural areas and can be used in treatment, monitoring, education and crises response, Gottwalt said.
However, limited broadband access and “the caps on tele-health visits and the limits of the providers who can use it are barriers to getting these resources up to rural areas,” he said.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton to use mediation to resolve a funding dispute. In an opinion issued Friday, the court also ruled that Dayton’s use of the line-item veto to strip biennial funding for the Legislature was constitutional.
A Ramsey County judge on Wednesday ruled that Gov. Mark Dayton’s line-item veto of legislative funding violated the state’s constitution.
House and Senate leadership OK a resolution to seek outside legal representation in an effort to restore funding for the Legislature that Gov. Mark Dayton line-item vetoed earlier this week.
Day three of the 2017 special session saw lawmakers pass final omnibus bills to be sent to Gov. Mark Dayton, with weary House members wrapping up their work at 2:42 a.m. Friday following a week of long days — and nights — at the State Capitol.
Lawmakers on conference committees must sort through competing bills before finalizing a product to send to the governor.
The budget process explained — and why it matters
$45 billion plan is about a 10 percent increase over current biennium
Governor urges lawmakers to pass a big capital investment bill during budget-setting year; House Speaker has expressed doubt over bonding this session
It was a day of selfies, swearings-in and standing ovations as the House opened the 2017-18 biennial session Tuesday.