Health care at risk in rural Maine

On February 16th, Dr. Ted Sussman, Houlton internist and chair of the board of HealthCare for All Maine, gave the third of a series of six talks for state legislators, sponsored by HealthCare for All Maine. The series is focused on “Improving Health Care in Maine: What Can We Do?”

Legislators in attendance. State Representative Jane Pringle in foreground. Photo credit: K Foster

Dr Sussman outlined the health care access problems facing rural Maine residents. Twenty-eight percent of rural Maine hospitals are at risk of closing, including four at immediate risk. Fifteen out of sixteen Maine counties have health professional shortages in primary care, mental health, and dental health. “Having health insurance that pays fees for ER visits, laboratory tests, or treatments is of little value if there is no Emergency Department, laboratory or treatment capability available in the community for the resident to use,” said Dr. Sussman.

Dr. Ted Sussman discusses the problems with health care in rural Maine. Photo credit: K Foster

“We need to pay rural hospitals and providers more,” he said. “This includes funding ‘standby capacity’ so that rural hospitals and providers can cover the costs to keep necessary facilities open and providers available. By reducing administrative complexity and costs, a publicly funded, universal health care system would free up the necessary funding to keep rural healthcare available and sustainable.”

View or download the information from Dr. Sussman’s talk HERE.

Dr. Sussman and Dr. Caryl Heaton of Blue Hill will continue the discussion about rural health care issues in a later session.

The next session in the series is scheduled for Thursday, March 2, from 12-1 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber, Room 334 of the Maine State House. Dr. Bill Clark will speak about Mainers’ health care needs.

Published by HealthCare for All Maine

HealthCare for All Maine is the 501c4 political and advocacy arm of Maine AllCare

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