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DOCTOR SHORTAGE STILL AILS RURAL MINNESOTA

 DOCTOR SHORTAGE STILL AILS RURAL MINNESOTA
 MINNEAPOLIS, April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The physician shortage in rural


Minnesota is showing signs of worsening, and it's taking small hospitals an average of more than two years to recruit a physician, according to a new survey released today by the Minnesota Hospital Association.
 The survey of 114 hospitals in Greater Minnesota found that more than 200 doctors, primarily family physicians, are needed in communities outside the seven-county metropolitan area. The survey was conducted in January.
 Stephen Rogness, president of the Minnesota Hospital Association, said the shortage of rural physicians poses a great threat to access to care and to the viability of many small hospitals. He noted that three small, community hospitals in Parkers Prairie, Trimont and Heron Lake closed last year because they could not recruit a doctor. "Events of the past year clearly demonstrate that without a doctor, there is no access to care," Rogness said.
 Rogness said the hospital industry is opposed to several provisions in the HealthRight legislation because they would discourage physicians from choosing to locate in Minnesota. The HealthRight bill, which would provide access to health insurance to some of the state's uninsured, would be funded by a 2 percent tax on health providers, including doctors and hospitals. It also would restrict what physicians may earn from treating Medicare patients.
 "The rural physician shortage is not unique to Minnesota," Rogness said. "Certain provisions of the HealthRight bill are very troubling because our rural communities are in competition with Wisconsin, the Dakotas and many other states for doctors."
 The survey found that 65 percent of the rural hospitals with less than 25 beds are trying to recruit physicians and have been searching for an average of 28 months. The length of search has increased by nearly a year from a similar survey conducted two years ago, which then found an average search of 17 months. In addition, the survey identified at least 12 communities, which currently have no hospital and no doctor that are trying to recruit a doctor: Silver Bay, Belview, Mountain Lake, Heron Lake, Hector, Bird Island, Trimont, Longville, Clara City, Sherburn, Kenyon and Cottonwood.
 Rogness noted that the HealthRight authors appear to have acknowledged the severity of the physician shortage by providing technical recruitment assistance to communities, and some loan forgiveness programs to doctors who choose a rural practice. He called these efforts "well-intentioned, but they won't offset HealthRight's deterrents to physician recruitment."
 -0- 4/8/92
 /CONTACT: Patti Anderson of Minnesota Hospital Association, 612-331-5571 or 800-462-5393/ CO: Minnesota Hospital Association ST: Minnesota IN: MTC SU:


AL -- MN007 -- 6419 04/08/92 16:29 EDT
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Date:Apr 8, 1992
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