Rural hospitals: Our canary in a coal mine

Julie Ann Neely explores the “commonality between the financial pressures of rural hospitals and the financial pressures of urban hospitals as they treat unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 patients.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Having chest pains? Cut off a finger? Need medical care now? For anyone living in a rural area there is no guarantee the closest hospital can provide needed emergency care. 

Signs may say “Hospital” and the doors may be open, but odds are they will not have the capability or staff to care for an urgent need or life-threatening emergency.  Logic tells us in an emergency increased time and distance can be life-threatening.  One study found that rural hospital closures are associated with a 5.9 percent increase in inpatient mortality.  1, 2

Ours is a “profits above all else” economy, and rural hospitals close because they are not profitable, often operating at a loss. Those that remain open have restructured, eliminated services, and reduced staff to the point they can no longer offer basic medical care. Hospitals lose money delivering babies which has caused dozens of Iowa hospitals, rural and urban, to discontinue this service.  Iowa is 50th out of 50 states for the number of obstetricians per population. 3 , 4

Due to the nature of the population served, rural hospitals cannot compete, and rural residents are the losers.

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Kimberly Graham knows universal health care is our only choice

Elisa Hernández Pérez is an immigrant from Spain living in Iowa City. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I moved to Iowa from Spain, my mom’s main worry was not whether I would be too cold in the snowy winters, nor if I would make friends quickly, nor if I would miss the food or going to the beach. Her main worry was what could happen to me if I found myself in need of even the most basic health care.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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Thoughts on a post-Trump agenda for Democrats

Dan Piller speculates on what the federal government might attempt if the 2020 presidential and Congressional elections swing toward Democrats. -promoted by Laura Belin

Democrats have learned, the hard way, to never count on a landslide before votes are cast. But the combination of a 1930s-style economic collapse, President Donald Trump’s manic blunderings, and his dismal poll numbers no doubt generate dreams in progressive minds of a landslide election in November that sweeps them into unchallengeable control of both the White House and congress in a manner similar to the Democratic sweeps of 1932 or 1964.

So what might happen if Joe Biden and a host of happy progressives settle into power in Washington next January (probably after walking past gun-toting, camouflage-wearing Trumpers making a Last Stand)?

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Why I support Mike Franken for U.S. Senate

Nancy Bobo is a retired non-profit executive, founder of the Democratic group Women for a Stronger America, and a Democratic volunteer in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

In early March, the week before everything started shutting down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I hosted a house party for Mike Franken, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. A friend had introduced me to Mike several weeks earlier, and I was exceptionally impressed. I was pleasantly surprised when our house filled wall-to-wall that morning with the biggest crowd we’ve ever hosted for a political candidate.

Guests arrived curious to meet Mike and knowing little about him. Numerous guests had come supporting another candidate and changed their allegiance that day. Mike’s background, experience, and a certain degree of Iowa charm were compelling. He left with a pile of checks and new supporters. Today, Franken’s support is clearly growing.

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Bernie Sanders’ success in Iowa shows Democratic Party must adapt

Sami Scheetz: Democrats must speak to issues working-class people face and welcome the diverse coalition Bernie Sanders formed in Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

For more than 150 years, Iowa has served as a progressive beacon for the rest of the nation. We outlawed the death penalty nearly 60 years ago and became one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009. Contrary to the popular belief that most Midwesterners are centrists, Iowa Democrats have historically been leaders of this nation’s progressive movements.

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