When a 35-year old woman from rural Michigan with chronic knee issues and chronic pain reached out to us to tell us of her inability to find a pain doctor, we were struck with two thoughts.
- Here is another victim of the opioid “crisis”
- She is from Rural America which has been disproportionately negatively affected by government health care policies.
We reached out to Terri Lewis, Ph.D. who conducted a survey on health care and pain treatment that attracted nearly 5000 responses.
That survey revealed what many in rural America know—things are not good.
Here are comments she had this weekend:
“People who live in the rural counties of this American landscape are disproportionately affected by the loss of both care for chronic disease, and expertise in treating pain and addition.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) recently released figures to indicate that more than 600 rural hospitals are closing or at risk for closing in rural America. When hospitals close, local expertise, and knowledge of patients and their families goes with it. This is increased by the loss of primary care physicians who admit to not wanting to continue to care for persons with chronic conditions including those that generate pain.
Unfriendly regulatory environments that don’t distinguish chronic care from the need for care from services directed into support for those who need help with use of other substances. State medical boards are not actively encouraging physician replacement into counties with lack of physician support, so many persons are forced to travel many miles to find care – if they can break through long waiting lists. This in turn trips red flags that mark and stigmatize these individuals.
On top of this, monkeying with the health insurance system and the threat of loss or changes creates a negative environment for both health providers and patients who share the risks associated with paying for care.
These are dark days. It’s a manipulated and politicized environment. Congress and state legislators are pointing fingers and dragging their feet. Nobody is taking care of business. Talk is cheap and leadership is simply not participating in this conversation.”
Here is the National Pain Report story we ran Sunday on the Michigan woman—Janell Ansell—struggle to find a doctor near her home.