PLATTSBURGH — Republican candidate for congress Matt Doheny says finding doctors is still a vital issue for the North Country health-care community.
“Attracting and retaining medical talent in this area is critical,” he said during a recent tour of area health-care facilities in Plattsburgh.
“It can be tough, but we have a good quality of life in this area, and that is why it is so important that health care be a robust industry.”
Doheny’s stop in Plattsburgh was part of his summer 50 Businesses in 50 Days tour, during which he is visiting sites in the 12-county 21st District to learn about various issues.
Earlier this month, he spent time visiting farms and other sites to learn more about agriculture.
Doheny, a Republican from Watertown, is running to unseat incumbent Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh.
“This (health care) is fundamentally important, especially for facilities in rural areas,” he said.
“That is why we are doing a lot of listening and learning so we can be ready to help.”
Aside from recruitment and retention of doctors, Doheny said he is also learning from health-care providers that proper reimbursement is also at the top of their list.
“That’s always a big concern,” he said.
Owens has taken heat from Doheny for supporting the Affordable Healthcare Act, known as Obamacare, which was approved by Congress two years ago.
He said that recruiting and keeping doctors has been an issue for rural areas for a long time.
“Every major hospital in the region has had a physician-recruitment plan for the past 20 years,” Owens said. “It clearly has been a problem for about 20 years, and it is unrelated to the Affordable Healthcare Act.”
As for reimbursement issues, Owens, who served as counsel to CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh for several years, said a major problem is that hospitals and doctors often do not get reimbursed when they have to treat people who are uninsured.
Obamacare, which will require everyone to have health insurance, should help with that problem, Owens said.
“The remedy is make sure people are insured so hospitals and doctors can get paid,” he said.
Doheny said that in talking to people in the district about Obamacare, he hears many worries.
“There is concern that it could affect their bottom line, but I think people are still sifting through it,” he said.
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