IRHA Carlinville ForumrRaymond – The Illinois Rural Health Association recently hosted a Legislative Forum at the Magnuson Grand Hotel which was very well attended by over 50 area medical provider including doctors, nurses, hospital CEOs, Rural Health Clinic administrators, dentists, public health departments and medical students.  The Forum provided an opportunity for state legislators to gain a better understanding of local healthcare needs.  Items at the top of the discussion list were the need for expansion of Telehealth, the lack of dental care in rural areas, reinstatement of Medicaid reimbursement for adult dental, fear of a federal proposal to widen the geographic distance between hospitals to qualify as Critical Access Hospitals, physician recruitment problems in rural areas and how the expansion of Medicaid will impact an already backlogged system.

“Because it is often difficult for medical providers to break away from their patient load to come up to the Statehouse , IRHA coordinated the Forum as a to bring legislators to their  local medical community, in order to gain a better understanding of local rural health needs,” Margaret Vaughn, IRHA Executive Director explained.

"There is a critical need to make affordable health care more accessible in rural areas,” State Senator Andy (D-Bunker Hill) said. “We have to create incentives for physicians to practice in areas that have been labeled as ‘doctor deserts’. I look forward to working with stakeholders to address this important issue.” 

“It is absolutely essential for rural areas in our state to have close, affordable, quality health care,” said Senator Sam McCann (R-Carlinville.) “I hope my colleagues in the General Assembly will join us in our goal.” State Representative CD Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville) added, "In the ever-changing world of rural healthcare, we have to find new ways to provide services, attract new providers, and ensure that we can do it all more efficiently than ever.  This forum was a great discussion towards that goal.”

"The Illinois Rural Health Forum offered a wonderful opportunity for healthcare providers through-out central Illinois to talk to their State Senators and Representatives about the multitude of challenges they face in trying to provide quality healthcare services to their patients and the State’s impact upon those challenges,” said Sue Campbell the CEO of Community Memorial Hospital in Staunton.

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