|Rural Health Day to focus on electronic medical records, emergency medical services|
Pete Antonson, president of the North Dakota Rural Health Association (NDRHA), announces Rural Health Day Thursday, March 5, in the Capitol’s Great Hall in Bismarck. Rural Health Day is a focus on rural North Dakotans’ health and their health care, and on how rural health care is essential to the vitality of the state’s economy.
“Other health associations in the state have rural health in their mission statements; however, the North Dakota Rural Health Association is unique because its exclusive focus is on rural health and health care,” said Antonson.
The NDRHA supports legislation to address two critical issues in the 2009 ND legislative session: health information technology and rural emergency medical services. Investments in health information technology and electronic medical records for individuals are key components of President Obama’s health care plan.
“Because we know that spiraling health care costs are crushing families and businesses alike, we're taking the most meaningful steps in years towards modernizing our health care system. It's an investment that will take the long overdue step of computerizing America's medical records to reduce the duplication and waste that costs billions of health care dollars, and medical errors that cost thousands of lives each year,” said President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, at the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A critical reason the NDRHA supports health information technology legislation in the 2009 session is because “states must contribute funds to receive federal dollars. After building costs, the cost of health information software is the largest single purchase most health care organizations will make,” Antonson said.
“It may be possible for states to receive up to a 10–1 federal match for their investment to facilitate and expand electronic health information exchange. In addition, future Medicare reimbursement rates to providers will be tied to whether they have adopted a certified electronic medical record system and are able to exchange health information with other health care facilities as needed,” according to Antonson.
The North Dakota Rural Health Association also supports state legislation to maintain emergency medical services for rural North Dakotans. “North Dakota has a large geography; the challenge we face is how to maintain service to all its citizens,” said Antonson.
-- Denis F. MacLeod, Communications Specialist, Center for Rural, email@example.com, 701-777-3300