Argus Leader editors to the editor the week of April 5:
Rural healthcare key for coronavirus treatment
With 800,000 people spread throughout the state, South Dakota’s biggest challenge with the coronavirus pandemic is not distancing high concentrations of people, but rather providing quality health care to populations in rural and remote communities. Residents in remote locations rely on Community Health Centers for medical care, dental care and mental health services because these health centers are often the only option available. Fortunately, all Community Health Centers provide care to everyone regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay.
Because of lost revenue from routine appointments and the additional resources needed to fight COVID-19, Community Health Centers across the country are laying off employees and closing primary care sites due to a shortage of operational funds. In the latest stimulus bill, Congress passed a mandatory federal funding extension for Community Health Centers until November 30 and provided $1.32 billion in emergency funding to help the situation. While this is a good start, we need Congress to go back to the table for additional emergency and long-term funding to give Community Health Centers greater financial security during this time of crisis.
Although to date South Dakota has some of the lowest number of COVID-19 cases, Horizon Health Care would still need to close as many as 12 health centers if Congress does not pass long-term funding beyond the November 30 deadline. South Dakotans living in rural and remote areas would be forced to drive up to two hours away to get routine or emergency medical care while our country is still potentially battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Far from a handout, funding Community Health Centers saves the federal health care system $24 billion annually and generates nearly six times the investment of every federal dollar in economic activity. In South Dakota, health centers create more than 500 jobs with a total economic impact of $99 million for the state. Long-term funding also allows health centers to invest in the next generation of medical professionals, emerging health care treatments, and advanced telemedicine technology to increase options for remote patient care.
To sustain operational costs for Community Health Centers nationwide, Congress must pass an additional $2 billion in immediate emergency spending as well as an additional $1 billion per year for the next 5 years. We cannot abandon residents in remote locations during this or any other health crisis. Congress must act now to keep Community Health Centers open and serving all South Dakotans now and in the future.
John Mengenhausen is the chief executive officer of Horizon Health Care, a network of 32 Community Health Centers across South Dakota.
New Noem hire a bad choice
Why Governor Noem would appoint Mr. Ian Fury, who was a policy analyst for Kansas Governor Brownback is beyond me.
Governor Brownback’s administration is well known for being a total failure. In a disastrous step he cut taxes and public school funding 50 percent. That action eventually was ruled unconstitutional and reversed by the Kansas Supreme Court, but only after ruining many public schools. Brownback also severely harmed Kansas University and Kansas State University with illy conceived budget cuts and then he helped enact concealed carry gun laws that likely put professors at risk. Finally during Mr. Fury’s time in Kansas the state experienced a much more prolonged recession than the other midwest states, probably because Corporations don’t want to relocate or expand to a state when the public schools are getting worse.
After his years in Kansas Mr. fury has been on the staff of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio. Representative Jordan is a divisive idealog whose previous background as the wrestling coach at Ohio merits further review.
Willis Sutliff, Rapid City
Stockpile should be given to states
Thursday, Jared Kushner said, “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile, it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.” Excuse me? Our elected officials need to inform this cretin that the materials in “our stockpile” do not belong to him to play with as he pleases! They need to inform Jared and his father-in-law that those materials are needed now in the states and the materials do not belong to them! The administration must save American lives, not sit on materials for whatever reason their twisted minds have conjured up.
Carol Dahlberg, Sioux Falls
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