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Standing Up for Rural Colorado


Location: Unknown

We're getting down to the wire in the debate about health insurance reform. And as we work to improve our broken health care system, I'm fighting to ensure whatever legislation we pass works for all Coloradans.

Rural communities face unique barriers that prevent people from getting the care they need. That's why I've introduced two amendments to the Senate health reform bill designed to ensure that rural communities have equal access to programs aimed at improving health and wellness.

The first amendment is similar to a bill I introduced this summer, the Rural Physicians Pipeline Act, which is designed to help address a serious shortage of doctors in rural communities. There just aren't enough doctors willing to practice outside of major metro areas, which presents a big challenge for many of our rural towns. We need to do better. My bill would make grants available to help medical schools across the country establish programs to provide special training to students who want to practice in rural communities. A 2008 study found that if all medical schools enrolled just 10 students per class in such a program, we would be able to double the number of graduating rural doctors.

My second amendment would ensure that a grant program created in the Senate's reform bill - to emphasize and promote wellness, healthy choices, and prevention - would be equally distributed in rural communities. The "Community Transformation Grants" in the bill will lay the foundation for strong community programs that emphasize and promote wellness, healthy choices, and prevention - all things that Coloradans understand. My amendment would make sure that rural America would benefit from this program too, by stating that rural communities should have equal access to these programs and ensuring that their unique needs are considered and addressed.

These efforts are critical to the health of Coloradans - and all rural Americans. I've talked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others about the importance of these amendments, and I'm going to keep fighting to get them included in the final bill so we can ensure that rural Colorado - and rural America - aren't being left behind when it comes to health care.

Mark Udall

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