Wednesday Roundup: Medicaid Expansion

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Is There a Doctor in the House?Are there enough doctors in rural areas of Kentucky to support the state’s new Medicaid expansion? The expansion will grant access to 308,000 residents who earn 138 percent of the federal poverty level or less, but the federal government lists 47 of the state’s counties are short on healthcare professionals. Despite this, Stephen Williams, Chief Executive Officer of Norton Healthcare, remains hopeful that the new measure will succeed. “I doubt this will turn into a huge problem — although there may be pockets.”

Plans purposed to deal with the issue include increased reliance on community health centers, and attracting more nonphysician health care providers to areas in need.

Wireless World Record – A scientific breakthrough made recently in Germany may hold good news for many still living in rural areas without access to broadband internet. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology in Freiburg have developed a machine which set a world record for wireless data transmission. The developers were able to achieve 40Gbit/sec at 240GHz over a distance of one kilometer.

Even though this could lead to faster internet for people living in urban areas as well, the goal of this new technology is to supply rural citizens with broadband.

Not Rural Enough? – Many farmers in Ohio are upset today because despite living in counties people consider rural, they have not been labeled as rural by the federal government. This reclassification will drastically affect these farmers’ chances of getting balloon mortgages, which are shot-term mortgages that are often obtained by farmers. Federal regulators finalized their list of rural counties in the U.S. for mortgage lending purposes last week, and most of Ohio’s farming counties were not granted a spot on the list. While 44 counties in the state are listed as rural for census purposes, only 20 are considered rural enough for mortgage standards.

Jeffrey Quayle, senior vice president of the Ohio Bankers League, was not impressed with the list. “It still has the same shortcomings as it did when it was in draft form, and that has a real adverse, practical effect in a lot of Ohio communities.”

Going Home Safely – Though doctors control many things when treating patients, there is one part of the recovery process in which they have no control at all: what happens to a patient after they leave the hospital. Information about the status of patients after discharge is scarce, especially in rural areas. To remedy this problem in Missoula, Montana, the St. Patrick’s Hospital received a $1.85 million grant. These funds will pay for a three-year patient study, working with hospitals in the nearby areas of Dillon, Deer Lodge, Plains and Polson.

“We want to design new components for discharge that are just as precise as any medical treatment,” Said Craig Ravesloot, director of Rural Health Research with the University of Montana’s Rural Institutes on Disabilities. The project will focus on orthopedics, pneumonia, stroke and heart failure patients.

Growing Care – Warren Buffet once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Well now, Buffet’s son Howard G. Buffet has started a charity encouraging farmers to give new meaning to that quote. Buffet is urging famers to help fight hunger in rural America by donating profits from the sale of one acre’s crop. The program, called “Invest an Acre”, will use the money to support food banks in rural communities, and has found fans among Missouri 4-H club members.

Members have been promoting the program through display booths, farmers meetings, and hosting meals. Farmers can fill out pledge cars for “Invest an Acre” any time during the growing season.

 

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