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Puckrein: Changes to Medicare Part B Pose Risk to Rural Minorities

The consequences of these disparities in access to care are felt across the health care system. According to the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, rural minorities already experience marked disparities in access to flu shots and colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy screenings. And rural black women are less likely than the overall population to receive mammograms.

By targeting Medicare Part B for cuts, Congress has trained its eye on a program that delivers critical care in a cost-effective manner. Some physicians are already struggling to keep their doors open, and these cuts could have a serious unintended consequence of further hampering access to care for minority patients.

Reining in health care spending is important. But any proposal that takes doctors away from already underserved minority communities is one we can’t afford.

Congress should be working to improve minority families’ ability to access health care — not to further restrict it.

Gary Puckrein, Ph.D., is president and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. He also serves as executive director of the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations, a collaborative effort of the Asian and Pacific Physicians’ Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians and the National Medical Association.

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