Rural Health Advisory Committee Meeting Summary

Rural Health Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes Summary

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Minnesota Department of Health Snelling Office Park
1245 Energy Park Drive, St. Paul, MN

Members Participating: Darrell Carter, Ray Christensen (via video conference), Maddy Forsberg, Paul Iverson, Dianne Muckenhirn, Michael Mulder, Representative Mary Ellen Otremba, LaVonne Schlieman, Nancy Stratman, Chair, Senator Betsy Wergin, Rhonda Wiering

Members Absent:Thomas Crowley, Steve Hansberry, Representative Brad Finstad, Senator Jim Vickerman.

MDH Staff Present: Doug Benson, Jay McLaran, Linda Norlander, Janet Olstad, Tamie Rogers, Mark Schoenbaum, Kristen Tharaldson, Karen Welle, Assistant Commissioner Carol Woolverton. 

Audience: Virginia Baarson, Academy of Family Physicians; Ann Gibson, Minnesota Hospital Association; Nathan Goracke, U of M, College of Pharmacy; Dan Kwapinski, U of M, College of Pharmacy; Tom Larson, College of Pharmacy; Marnie Moore, Minnesota Rural Health Association; Liz Quam, Minnesota Rural Health Association; Chris Reisdorf, Minnesota Department of Human Services; Julie Stole, First Plan of Minnesota; Sarah Wiste, College of Pharmacy


Nancy Stratman, chair, welcomed and introduced Rural Health Advisory Committee members, presenters and participants in the audience.

Member Updates:

Issues and updates discussed by members included:


  • Shortage of primary care practitioners in rural areas. According to Dr. Carter, with 20 percent of the total population, rural areas only have 10 percent of the primary care practitioners. Dr. Christensen noted that two ways to approach the shortage are to identify and mentor students from rural/non-traditional / multi-cultural backgrounds and to work through the Legislature to find ways to encourage medical school to train more in primary care.
  • Rural communities wondering if tax incentives such as JobZ program could be used to bring in more dentists and other practitioners.
  • Discussions are beginning about how to best use the older, more experienced nurses and retain these nurses in the workforce.

Medicare and Aging Issues

  • Medicare Part D continues to cause confusion among the elderly. Rates for some products are going up and some recipients have signed up for Advantage products without understanding the restrictions until they find out their pharmacy can’t fill their prescriptions.
  • Long term care facing more complex medical needs of elderly such as obesity and the need for more skilled care. Some parts of the state are struggling with low census in nursing homes.

Mental Health

  • Availability of mental health services continues to be problematic and mental health needs of elderly are not being served.  Marshall will be opening a mental health unit.  


Assistant Commissioner Carol Woolverton reported that the legislative process has started and the Minnesota Department of Health is finalizing its legislative agenda before presenting it to the governor.


Dave Renner, Minnesota Medical Association (MMA):
MMA is addressing significant cuts in Medicare payment to physicians on a national level. On a state level MMA is supporting the “Freedom to Breathe Act” smoking ban, supporting better reimbursement for use of medical interpreters and standards regarding interpreters and supporting Health Information Technology development.  In addition MMA is part of the Healthy Minnesota Partnership, which will have recommendations on health care access ready for the 2007 legislative session.

Sue Stout, Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA):
MHA is working to preserve Medical Assistance rebasing (inflation increases), support language interpreter reimbursement and standards, maintain the integrity of the Health Care Access Fund, support the statewide smoking ban, and create a working environment where there is no manual lifting.

Adam Suomala, Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance (MHHA):
The Long Term Care Imperative (a coalition of long term care stakeholders) reports that 24 percent of nursing homes are in financial crisis.  MHHA is supporting efforts to shore up financial stability of providers, increase provider reimbursement and invest in the aging infrastructure of long term care facilities. Other issues include support for the long term care workforce.

Barbara Muesing, Minnesota Rural Health Association:
Minnesota Rural Health Association supports increased access to language interpreter services and a primary law for seatbelt enforcement.

Buck McAlpin, Minnesota Ambulance Association:
The Minnesota Ambulance Association is supporting the continued development of the statewide trauma system, maintenance of the no-fault auto insurance system, CALS funding, tort reform and repeal of the Minnesota Care tax.

Carrie Mortrud, Minnesota Nurses Association:
Legislative initiatives for Minnesota Nurses Association include supporting the Healthy Minnesota Partnership and its recommendations, working on changes to the scope of practice for advance practice nurses, smoking ban efforts and pursuing a “no lift” policy at all health care facilities.


Mark Schoenbaum, Director
Linda Norlander, Rural Health Program Development Supervisor
Discussed ORHPC projects and initiatives including 2007 Rural Health Conference, work on aging with other state level agencies, telehealth and trauma system. Thanked RHAC members who have completed their terms. 

Discussed using video conferencing for the January meeting. Also discussed content of meetings. Members noted the value of guidance from the Commissioner.

The next meeting of RHAC will be Tuesday, January 23, 2007.


Updated Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 12:28PM