Its a hard reality to swallow but health care in the US isn't universally equal. There are maybe a dozen A grade hospitals... Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, University of Houston Hospital in Texas, Scripp's in San Diego and Loma Linda, near Riverside in California. Scripp's I know specializes in Neurology and John Hopkins and Mayo Clinic cover pretty much all bases.
When it comes to risking back surgery, I'd make the trip to some place where a) you know the neurosurgeon is good based on a referral from someone on these boards or b) do some research online and find a grade A hospital near you, with reputations like the ones I have mentioned. Of course all this is based upon, if you can get the referrals. Personally, I'm lucky to have a brother that teaches at John's Hopkins.
If it ever comes down to the point where I get back surgery, I'm going to get all the possible references I can before I commit to any one neurosurgeon. My cousin lives in Minnesota, but my brother was able to get her a referral at John's Hopkins. Now after 17 years of debilitating arachnitis, she has had a clean and flawless opiate pump implant and is living a pretty normal life.
I spent a week in Minnesota with my girlfriend, while her dad had heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, though they live in south Wisconsin.
Somethings are just too risky than to roll the dice with an unknown. I recently had my first Myofascial Release therapy, but it was nothing like what others have later described as Myofascial Release. I paid for it by being laid up for 5 days which in turn led to a huge family drama. And that was just massage not surgery.