Reactions from around the country on the Supreme Court health reform decision • Drought spreads; corn prices rise • Living in Alabama on three newspapers a week
What does the Supreme Court ruling on the health care law mean for rural America? We’ll publish responses as they come in. Here are a few that have come in within the first hour after the ruling.
The National Rural Health Association:
Whether you support or oppose the health care bill, it is important to know that many provisions were included in the bill that benefit both the rural provider and patient. During the health reform debate, NRHA’s message was clear: Improve rural America’s access to health care providers by resolving the workforce shortage crisis in rural areas, and eliminate long-standing payment inequities for rural providers.
NRHA fought for and won key rural workforce and payment improvements in the bill. Each of these decisions will remain intact in light of today’s decision. However, complete funding for several of the provisions will likely continue to remain challenging. (Many programs “authorized” in the ACA, must actually be funded through a separate act of Congress.)
Montana Sen. Jon Tester:
After my daughter was born, our family had to give up health insurance because we couldn’t afford it–a situation too many other Montana families have faced. I’m pleased the Supreme Court has validated Congress’ work to ensure access to health care for all Montanans.
Today’s ruling doesn’t mean this responsible, constitutional law can’t be improved. But it is an important step forward in the fight to fix a broken system and hold big insurance companies accountable to Montana families.
Insurance companies will now continue to insure people who are sick or have pre-existing conditions—like being pregnant. Young people will stay on their parents’ health insurance plans. Seniors will continue paying less for prescription drugs. And 14,000 Montana veterans will now receive health insurance.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson:
Farmers, ranchers and rural residents face significant barriers to obtaining accessible, affordable health care. The ACA contains significant, necessary reforms that help all Americans, including those who are self-employed and purchasing expensive care from the individual market, afford insurance and the preventive care they need; provides resources to rural health care providers and incentives to physicians serving in rural areas; bars health care companies from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions; and closes the Medicare prescription drug coverage ‘donut hole.’
All Americans deserve health care that is comprehensive, affordable and accessible, regardless of occupation or geographic area. NFU commends the Supreme Court on its decision to uphold the ACA, and looks forward to continuing to work with the administration to ensure the law is implemented as written.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman:
We remain concerned that mandating individuals and businesses to buy insurance will impose an expense that creates economic hardship, particularly for self-employed individuals and small businesses. The plan reviewed by the Supreme Court would impose a new financial burden on our members.
Farm Bureau has always supported market-based reforms as the best way to control costs and increase options for people and small businesses that purchase insurance for themselves and their employees….Moving forward, we encourage Congress and the President to work together to address our remaining concerns on this issue that affects millions of small business owners and individuals throughout rural America.
• The Census reports that, for the first time in a century, cities are growing faster than their surrounding suburbs.
Young adults are delaying careers, marriage and children, and they are hunkering down in the cities. Some economists are saying this is temporary, but apartment builders are constructing new living spaces for the large group of 18 to 29 year olds, who make up one in six Americans.
The last time growth in big cities surpassed outlying areas was prior to 1920. City growth in 2011 surpassed or equaled growth in the suburbs in 33 of the nation’s 51 largest metro areas. Last decade, that happened in just five cities.
“City growth in recent years clearly has ramped up faster than suburban growth has declined, suggesting an increased attractiveness of cities,” said demographer William Frey. “The real question is, will cities continue to hold their own when the suburban housing market picks up? Cities that market themselves well to young people and that offer job growth, cultural amenities and access to rapid transit are likely to see continued growth.”
• This story makes us want to jump in the car and find Urbanna, Virginia, there on the Chesapeake Bay, and get to Something Different Country Store. We’ll have the Virginia Sandwich, country ham and smoked turkey.
• Drought in the Midwest is pushing up corn prices, as the percentage of the crop rated in at least good condition dwindles. The price of corn is up 27 percent in the last month and is now at $6.33.
About a quarter of the U.S. is facing at least severe drought conditions. DTN reports that soybean plants are stressed and that crop conditions are the lowest in ten years. Bean farmers are placing their hopes on El Nino.
• Vice President Joe Biden was in Iowa yesterday criticizing Mitt Romney for his reluctance to support tax credits for wind and solar.
“We are importing less oil than [at] any time in the last 16 years,” Biden said. “But we think you got to bet on it all … You had our good friend Mitt Romney saying he dismissed wind and solar by saying they’re ‘two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative energy.’ Tell that to the 7,000 workers manufacturing wind power here in Iowa.”
• Alabama newspaperman Roy Hoffman writes about what it will mean when the papers in Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville start publishing delivered editions only three days a week.
Many Alabamans don’t have regular Internet access. He begins by recounting the news that they would have missed — the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963; the march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965; Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974.
I was recently covering a story in nearby Prichard, Ala., a town of 23,000 people with 36 percent of them beneath the poverty line; it made national news last year when it was too broke to pay pensions. In casual conversation I asked the police chief, a forward-looking official who carries both a gun and an iPad, what percentage of the town has Internet access. He figured 25 percent.
How many Prichard residents read the newspaper itself? Far more than subscribe, I’d hazard to guess. I’ve written many stories about people and places in that community, and I know how papers get passed around at the barbershop, the church social, the front porch.
Countless folks I’ve profiled in my home state have been old, poor or seen as marginal; they live down rural lanes or speak English as a second language. Yet they clutch the paper when it’s in their hands. They are hungry, too, for news of their community, town, state and nation seven days a week.
Hoffman was one of 181 workers at his newspaper to be laid off.