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Group needs input on health-care needs
By Chance McDavid
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A group chartered by the U.S. Congress is encouraging Mississippians to respond to interim health-care recommendations during upcoming forums in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Greenville.
Congress set up the Citizens' Health Care Working Group to engage the public in a national discussion of options to improve the national health-care system.
Jackson's forum will take place at the Jackson Medical Mall from 1-5 p.m. on Aug. 22, Hattiesburg's forum will be from 1-5 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the Forest County Extension Service office and Greenville's forum will be held at the Delta Regional Medical Center Learning Pavilion from 8:30 a.m. until noon on Aug. 24.
All meetings are free, but require registration. To register, call (662) 325-6640 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
These forums follow several listening sessions held across the state this spring where more than 200 Mississippians voiced their concerns about our current health-care system.
Affordability, quality of care and accessibility were key themes that came out of the listening sessions. A lack of physicians and other health-care professionals, distances to health- care services and transportation issues were also seen as challenges to residents, especially in rural areas.
Bonnie Carew, rural health program leader with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the Mississippi listening sessions were unique.
“Mississippi provided the only rural voice in the nation. It is very important that citizens comment on these recommendations to help ensure that rural America's voice is heard about what kind of health care system is necessary to meet their needs,” she said.
The feedback forums will showcase what Mississippi and the nation says about the future of health care. They will also seek input on the interim recommendations developed by the Citizens' Health Care Working Group.
Dr. Aaron Shirley, a Mississippi physician who serves on the Citizens' Health Care Working Group, and MSU's Extension Service were instrumental in getting residents in rural areas the opportunity to be heard and their ideas considered in the interim recommendations.
Citizens can comment on the recommendations until Aug. 30. The recommendations will then be finalized and sent to Congress.
“Now is the time for Mississippians to make time in their schedules to comment on the interim recommendations and further their commitment to rural health-care concerns,” Carew said. “These recommendations will shape the future of our national health-care system.”
The Mississippi Rural Health Association, Mississippi State Department of Health's Office of Rural Health, Mississippi Area Health Education Center, Jackson Medical Mall and MSU Extension Service are sponsoring the feedback forums.
More information on the interim recommendations of the Citizens' Health Care Working Group is available at http://www.citizenshealthcare.gov.