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NRHA keynote’s advice: “We don’t have to wait for Washington”

[caption id="attachment_1648" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="T.R. Reid presents at NRHA Annual Conference"][/caption] New York Times-bestselling author T.R. Reid gave the keynote address at NRHA’s 35th Annual Rural Health Conference in Denver this week. Reid, who was a Washington Post foreign correspondent, has written books and articles and created documentaries about health care systems all over the world. “Every country is struggling with getting young doctors to work out in the country,” he told 900 National Rural Health Association members. “French med students want to work in Paris… Colorado med students want to work in Denver. But Japan pays rural docs the same as if they are practicing in a big city or on a remote little island.” After his work focusing on health care overseas, Reid most recently reported on and created “U.S. Health Care: The Good News” for PBS. He showed attendees a clip featuring American communities embracing comprehensive preventative care. “We don’t have to wait for Washington to set rules to get things done; they’re doing it in communities now,” Reid said. “Doctors leave med school caring about the physical health of their patients, and then they start caring about the fiscal health of their communities too.” He shared these stats:
  • 22,000 Americans die every year “because they can’t afford a doctor. Other rich countries don’t let this happen.
  • More than 700,000 people declare bankruptcy every year because of health care bills.
“We’ve got to make the point that this is a cruel system,” he said. And America needs more primary care providers, he added. “In other countries they have much less of this problem,” Reid explained. “In Britain, primary care doctors make twice as much as cardiac surgeons.” Reid's presenation was sponsored by The Colorado Trust. The largest gathering of rural health professionals in the country ended today. The 2013 Annual Rural Health Conference will be May 7-10 in Louisville, Ky.

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