Many of Colorado’s rural counties suffer from a shortage of doctors, hospitals and access to medical treatment, but health providers in those areas will soon receive some much needed help. Today Gov. Bill Ritter announced an executive order creating the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Council, which will oversee and distribute $7.5 million in grants over the next six years. The money was donated last year by UnitedHealth Group, one of the state’s largest health care providers. Rural areas often have a difficult time attracting new doctors as older providers retire or move away. Rural counties tend to have a high percentage of Medicaid and Medicare patients, and low government reimbursement rates are unattractive to young doctors who are often in debt and looking to set up practices. In the future, providers will be able to apply for grants from the Rural Health Care Grant Council.
“As Colorado continues to examine major health-care reform, we must strengthen our delivery systems in rural Colorado to ensure that all Coloradans have access to high quality, affordable health care – whether they live in Denver or Durango,” Gov. Ritter said in a statement.