The focus of the past few weeks in Washington has been on health care. So, what does all this political lingo mean for rural residents?
"Rural America needs both affordable coverage and access to care. It doesn't matter if you have insurance coverage if you don't have a doctor in your community,” says Dennis Berens, President of the National Rural Health Association. "The health care bill not only will cover 95% of the uninsured, but it will go far in addressing major workforce shortages in rural America.”
Health care access for rural people will be strengthened through the establishment of health insurance exchanges for the self-employed and small businesses, he points out. Premium assistance will be provided through tax credits for small businesses and for low and moderate income individuals purchasing insurance through the exchange. The bill also provides a variety of support mechanisms for training and retaining rural health care providers.
AgWeb visitors weighed in that they do not agree with that assessment. Here are a couple of the comments we received:
(1) How anybody … can think that the health care bill is good for rural America is beyond my conception! ATT announced the new bill will cost them $4 billion a year, Caterpillar $100 million a year, John Deere $150 million a year, etc. How will they adjust? Through increased costs to the consumer and reduced health care to their employees.
How can the insurance companies take on everyone with pre-existing conditions, and still make money without dramatically raising the cost or premiums to the consumer? They can't. What will happen is that many people will pay a very small fine, if any, and not carry health insurance. Then the minute they get sick, or even the minute when they are in an accident, they will demand immediate health care coverage which the insurance company cannot deny. How can 32 more million people be put on the new health care plan, of which half of them will pay no premium because of their income level, and that will someway reduce premiums costs? Impossible!!
(2) If you consider that the government is having trouble selling its Treasury bonds (debt) and that China has already cut them off, and that this is a huge new cost for a huge expansion of government size and scope and control into every aspect of our health (which means just about everything), then if you still consider that a good thing because these liars, cheats and frauds have promised to throw the rural folks a dry old bone, then I guess it is wonderful. How does bankrupting this country make life better for anyone? Are farmers to only care that they got a bone promised to them? You are right to say that we will likely get the subsidies because our income going forward is likely to be low enough to qualify. The rising cost of our inputs alone as our currency melts down when they monetize the debt will take all profits out of the increase in product prices that will follow inflation up. So inputs will go up first, and then commodity prices (if they do go up).
(3) Congress barely knows what's in the Health Care Reform bill, so I'm sure it's too soon to make a judgment whether it is good or bad for rural America. I can guarantee you that most of your readers think the government takeover of health care is a disaster.
Keep those comments coming! --Linda H. Smith
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