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Dale Quinney, Executive Director of the Alabama Rural Health Association, sent me the following assorted random facts that point to just how dire the needs are (or just how great the opportunities are) in rural Alabama.

51 of Alabama’s 55 rural counties are currently classified as having a shortage of primary care physicians.  Only Coffee, Dallas, Marion, and Pike counties are not currently considered shortage areas.  (This classification measures the provision of MINIMAL rather than OPTIMAL care.) 

 

To eliminate all shortage designations, Alabama needs an additional 128 primary care physicians.  402 additional primary care physicians are needed to provide optimal care. 

 

All 55 rural counties are currently classified as having a shortage of dental care providers.    To eliminate all shortage designations, Alabama needs an additional 288 dentists.  348 additional dentists are needed to provide optimal care.  Alabama’s only dental school currently admits only 55 students each year. 

 

All 55 rural counties are currently classified as having a shortage of mental health care providers.    To eliminate all shortage designations, Alabama needs an additional 44 psychiatrists.  185 additional psychiatrists are needed to provide optimal care. 

 

More than one half of all actively practicing primary care physicians in Alabama are aged 50 years or more. 

 

It is estimated that the number of annual office visits to primary care physicians in Alabama will increase by more than 1,785,000 by the year 2025 – primarily due to the aging of Alabama’s population.  Over 904,000 of these additional office visits will involve rural physicians.  This increase does not consider such adverse factors as obesity with nearly one third of all adult Alabamians currently being obese, not simply overweight. 

 

Only 20 of Alabama’s 55 rural counties have hospitals that perform obstetrics.  In 1980, 46 of these counties had hospitals performing obstetrics. 

 

More than one in every five (22.1 percent) rural Alabamians are eligible for Medicaid services.  This is nearly one half ((44.5 percent) for rural Alabama’s children. 

 

The per capita personal income for rural Alabama residents is $29,170 which is over 21 percent lower than the per capita income of $37,109 for urban residents and over 27 percent below the figure of $40,166 for the nation.  Five rural Alabama counties (Wilcox, Bullock, Barbour, Sumter, and Bibb) are among the 250 poorest counties in the nation. 

 

The motor vehicle accident death rate in Alabama’s rural counties is 25.1 deaths per 100,000 population.  This rate is only 14.6 for the nation.  30 rural counties have motor vehicle accident death rates that are more than double the national rate with eight having rates that are more than triple the national rate.  While there are a number of reasons for this disparity, the great variation in  emergency medical service among the counties must be recognized as a contributing factor. 

 

Nearly one in every ten (8.5 percent in 2000) rural Alabama households have no vehicle for transportation.  This percentage is in double digits for 22 rural counties.

Dr Robert Bentley has won the Republican nomination for governor for the state of Alabama. Congratulations to him and his staff for running an outstanding race. As I am a one issue voter and you may be also, I will post the information regarding healthcare for Dr Bentley and Mr Sparks from their websites: First Mr Sparks:

Medicaid is the nation’s largest payer of long-term care services, funding approximately 50% of all long-term care spending and nearly two-thirds of all nursing home residents.

The next Governor of Alabama must deal with a horrific impending financial crisis that will have a major effect on our seniors, children, and other at-risk populations.  Our Medicaid program is designed to meet the needs of our people but a very real Medicaid disaster lurks in the very near future.

This essential program is currently being propped up by federal stimulus funds.  When those funds run out, Alabama will be left with an unimaginable hole in one of its most critical programs.

Today, more than 817,000 Alabamians are enrolled in Medicaid – that’s 17% of the state’s population. Medicaid enrollment increased by nearly 50,000 people in the past two years.  This jump in enrollment comes at a time when state revenue collections in support of Medicaid are falling drastically.

I am the only candidate running for Governor with any plan to deal with the looming financial disaster facing our state and our most vulnerable citizens.

The 2010 Alabama state Medicaid budget is $4.9 billion.  Of that total amount, Alabama is responsible for approximately $1.1 billion. The General Fund allocates only $308 million of that $1.1 billion, leaving a $700 million hole to be filled by federal stimulus money.

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