Lawmaker says medical and dental care lacking in rural areas
CARSON CITY – People living in Nevada’s rural areas face a serious shortage of medical services that the state has failed to address for years, a veteran legislator said Tuesday.
Assemblyman Joe Dini said there isn’t a surgeon in his Yerington-based district, and someone who needs anything more than routine medical care has to travel an hour or more to Carson City or Reno.
During a budget subcommittee hearing, Dini said the state and the University of Nevada’s medical school should be doing more to help the rural areas get adequate medical and dental care.
“After 15 years of messing around with medical schools and state agencies, you still haven’t done it,” Dini told a Division of Health Care Financing and Policy official.
“We still don’t have a surgeon in Yerington so they can’t deliver babies there. Nobody _ the medical schools, the state _ has helped us with this. There are serious deficiencies,” Dini said.
Putting patients on a helicopter to transport them to Reno or Las Vegas isn’t a good solution, Dini said, adding “that’s expensive.”
“Also, we don’t have a Medicaid provider in dental for rural areas in Nevada. It’s very serious,” Dini said.
Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, who chaired Tuesday’s budget subcommittee meeting, agreed that rural areas are suffering and “absolutely need attention.”
“It’s a geographic nightmare. But worse than that, it’s probably more about persons living in outlying areas where salaries are lower,” Giunchigliani said.
“We have to expand incentives for doctors to come into those areas. It’s time to review old, traditional plans such as mobile units, traveling doctors and nurses, as well as consider the intergovernmental transfer fund.”
State Medicaid Administrator Charles Duarte didn’t argue with the lawmakers’ assessment, saying, “Rural areas do suffer from a lack of access. Medicaid rates alone aren’t going to attract providers out to the rurals.”
“The rural areas are under-resourced. It’s difficult to maintain staff there _ for personal or professional reasons.”
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