Rural Designation Under Medicare Hurts Sonoma County’s Health Care System, Editorial States
The federal government should acknowledge the high cost of living in rural areas such as Sonoma County and raise the Medicare reimbursement rates for those areas, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat states in an editorial today. According to the Press Democrat, Sonoma County's status as rural results in local physicians being reimbursed by Medicare at rates lower than doctors in urban areas, despite the high cost of living in Sonoma County. The disparity in reimbursement rates "has been a driving force" in the county's health care crisis and contributed to the collapse of Health Plan of the Redwoods in 2002, the editorial states. In addition, the county's classification as a rural area by Medicare has continued to threaten funding for local hospitals and has caused physicians to leave the county or retire, according to the editorial. Although the county may benefit from legislation to increase Medicare reimbursement for rural health care providers approved last month, the "most sensible solution" would be to change the rural designations in Sonoma and other counties with high costs of living, the editorial states (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.