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The Obama administration is making a health care reform pitch to rural America today. It comes in the form of a report issued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas. The report tells us that one in five Americans who are uninsured live in rural communities — which is to be expected, since one out of five Americans live in rural communities.
Sebelius said in a conference call today that the “system we have really isn’t working for the 50 million” Americans who live in rural areas, she said, according to the Grand Forks Herald. “A lot of them are self-employed or work for family businesses, including family farms,” Sebelius said, and are disadvantaged by “not many choices and extremely high prices and rules that don’t protect consumers.”
The Grand Forks paper wrote that the new report states that “millions of rural Americans have limited access to a primary health care provider,” and “with the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of these health and access disparities that are already a problem in rural communities….There were only 55 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents in rural areas in 2005, compared with 72 per 100,000 in urban areas. The rate decreases to 36 per 100,000 in isolated, small rural areas. There are nursing shortages as well, with less than half as many nurses per capita in isolated rural sareas than in urban areas.”