Patients First Act helps make medical care more affordable for rural Georgians

Patients First Act gets signed into law

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Governor Brian Kemp recently signed the Patients First Act into law.

Some rural Georgia physicians say this makes healthcare more affordable, but what about access to healthcare in rural areas?

Doctors say the Patients First Act isn’t the “end all” to the state’s healthcare problems. However, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Dr. Keisha Callins is an OBGYN and the only physician on record in Twiggs County.

She says that out of 159 counties, 79 don’t have an OBGYN. Around 64 are without a pediatrician, and nine counties don’t have a doctor at all.

“It would be nice for a regular working person to be able to go to the doctor to get an annual exam to get her pap smear and not show up and me with not having a Pap smear for 10 years. That happens a lot,” Dr. Callins said.

She says the Patients First Act makes a difference for the uninsured and the underinsured patients.

The bill focuses on a Medicaid waiver and the state funds a million dollar study committee to find out what the waiver will look like.

”However, it doesn’t directly do anything about the availability of healthcare providers in our rural area,” Health Policy and Operations Director at Georgia Rural Innovation Center for Mercer School of Medicine Chris Scoggins said.

Patients First Act makes healthcare access more affordable to more people. However, access to medical facilities in rural areas is not on the bill’s agenda.

”It’s got to be a collaborative effort. The state will do a certain amount. Private institutions of higher learning will do their share. The hospital’s systems and the citizens of the state, we’re all going to have to come together to fix this problem,” Scoggins said.

Categories: Bibb County, Local News

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