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Rebecca Mueller wants to remind her fellow Democrats that there’s a true need for affordable healthcare in rural communities.
Dr. MuellerRebecca Mueller, MD’s love of serving small communities blossomed in Pennsylvania. And it is in the Keystone State this week that she will make sure others in the Democratic Party don’t forget those struggling to afford healthcare in rural America.
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Mueller was born in Des Moines, Iowa, graduated from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in 2008, and then completed her pediatric residency at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. It was at the community-oriented residency where she discovered her ideal practice location.
She has spent the last five years in a small practice in Muscatine, Iowa, where 80% of the population is on Medicaid and children have little to no resources.
“What I see every day are moms and dads working so hard just to make ends meet and … even if they worked full-time and did a second job in addition, they’d still make poverty wages and still qualify for Medicaid,” Mueller told Medical Economics. “Bernie Sanders says this should not be the case and I agree with that.”
So this week, Mueller will serve as a delegate for the Vermont senator at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, making sure that healthcare and the needs of these families are not forgotten.
“As a pediatrician, I interact on a daily basis with families and understand the stress they face,” she says. “I’ve seen children with terrible asthma and parents without enough [medical] coverage and time off because they’ve only worked somewhere six months. All of these things impact the health of these children and the whole family.”
While Mueller says Republicans often paint those on welfare as unwilling to work, Democrats are more supportive of those the most in need. She still has misgivings about presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, hence her unwavering support for Sanders.
Mueller says she hopes her attendance in Philadelphia-along with other Sanders’ supporters and delegates-dispels the notion of this group as “really naïve, unknowledgeable, and driven by emotion.”
“Going as a physician, I bring that different perspective and may surprise some that we are people with experience and not just brand new college graduates who support Sanders,” she says. “We are part of his movement as well.”
She also hopes to encourage her party to continue to focus on healthcare in rural communities like Muscatine, and in Eagle Point, Oregon, another small town to which she’ll bring her skills next month when she joins a new small practice there.
“So many things are broken [in healthcare], but one of them is that small-town, community physicians are a dying breed and if you talk to [physician] recruiters, they will tell you that,” Mueller says. “[Medical school] graduates aren’t interested in going, but you have families who need services and the closest may be 30 minutes away. While that doesn’t seem like very far, when you have a mom going into labor who is in trouble, that could mean the life of that mother or that baby. The lack of community physicians doesn’t get talked about enough … and that’s a big problem.”
Mueller will be keeping a “DNC Diary” for Medical Economics throughout the convention, sharing her daily experiences from Philadelphia.