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Michigan becomes the first state in decades to repeal a "right to work" law, death penalty opponents say President Biden is not keeping campaign promises to halt federal executions, and more states move to weaken child labor protection laws.

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Finding childcare is a struggle everywhere, prompting North Carolina's Transylvania County to try a new approach. Maine is slowly building-out broadband access, but disagreements remain over whether local versus national companies should get the contracts, and specialty apps like "Farmers Dating" help those in small communities connect online.

Rural OR Could Benefit from Health Care Reform

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010   

PORTLAND, Ore. - About one in three Oregonians lives in a rural area, where access to medical care is limited, and the issue is also part of the health care reform debate in Congress. As the U.S. House and Senate try to hammer out a compromise, advocates for rural communities say parts of the legislation that would benefit small towns are likely to be approved. For instance, both bills include plans to encourage more physicians to leave the big city.

With only 10 percent of doctors practicing in small towns, Virginia Wolking, rural organizer for the Center for Rural Affairs, says it would be an important step to remedy that shortage.

"That's one of the big issues. Even if somebody wanted to practice in rural area for their residency, there just aren't enough slots for them. And research shows that, when someone comes to a rural area to do their residency, they end up staying there. That's a really positive thing."

Both bills would also allow doctors and nurses to work off some of their medical school debt by teaching, which Wolking says will be critical with the growing national shortage of medical personnel. The American Medical Association says new doctors graduate with an average of $155,000 in medical school debt.

Wolking says she's heard the complaints that Congress isn't doing enough to rein-in drug manufacturers and insurance companies, but says, if the proposal ultimately gets more people insured, it will benefit rural America.

"More rural people are uninsured than people in urban areas, and people who are uninsured receive fewer preventative services. That's part of why having 95 percent of people covered by insurance is so important; that people can get the preventative care they need."

Both the House and Senate bills also would provide more funding for community health centers. Oregon has 24 centers with about 180 clinics statewide, mostly in rural areas, which serve as the health care safety net system for the poor and uninsured.

Community health center data from the National Association of Community Health Centers, at www.nachc.org.








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