Public option bad for rural hospitals

Once again, Michigan is poised to be a battleground state in the upcoming presidential election in 2020. So if a presidential candidate were to offer a health care plan that would put 60% of our rural hospitals “at high risk of closure,” do you think they’d do well here?

Obviously not, and yet that’s exactly the damage that a so-called “public option” could do to our state, according to a study recently released. Nationwide, a public option that pays out Medicare rates could threaten more than 1,000 — up to 55% — of rural hospitals in the same spot, not only threatening patient access to care, but also roughly 420,000 much-needed jobs.

What’s more, even if the availability of a public option didn’t shut down a rural hospital entirely, it could still jeopardize access and diminish the quality of care patients receive and many facilities would be forced to eliminate services and reduce staff. The last thing we need is a lower standard of care and longer wait times.

Surprisingly, public option is actually one of the least radical plans some candidates are throwing out there. If this is what a public option would do, just imagine what Medicare for all might throw our way. Instead of taking us down this road, candidates and national leaders need to stay focused on making incremental improvements to strengthen and stabilize our current health care system. A public option will not do that.

Veronica Horn, president & CEO

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce

Support rural America

Farmers were grateful to the Trump administration for lifting summer E15 restrictions. E15 is a fuel blend with 15% ethanol, an American-made biofuel produced from corn. Allowing E15 to be sold year-round opened a new market for farmers across the Midwest.

More options at the fuel pump means more competition and lower prices.

The move showed the president is serious about keeping his promise to the rural community and improving the agricultural economy. There is still work to do. His Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to stop handing out refinery exemptions to large oil companies.

These companies, like Exxon and Chevron, use the refinery exemptions from the EPA to bypass federal biofuel laws and push ethanol blends out of the market. They have already destroyed 2.6 billion gallons of biofuel demand, and dozens of exception requests are already on file at the EPA, one signature away from doing more damage to the rural economy.

As a farmer, I supported President Donald Trump. His action on E15 has the potential to do great things for the agriculture community, along with reducing our dependence on foreign oil and lowering gas prices. But it won’t deliver results if his regulators continue giving special treatment to big oil companies.

Dan Cable, Maybee

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