Dear Editor,

From a health and wellness perspective, it is time to look for new leadership in the 8th Congressional District. As we say in the Missouri Ozarks, our Representative to Congress is a “good old boy” but only when it comes to rubbing the toe of his boot in the ground while talking to farmers and sawmill operators. However, when it comes to supporting health care institutions and covering persistent health care issues in this part of the state, he is nowhere to be found. These are reasons to vote him out and replace him with someone who has a proven track record for helping people access the care they need.

Five of the top seven most dangerous jobs in the United States and Missouri are currently found in the 8th Congressional District: 1) Logging; 4) Roofing; 5) Refuse and recyclable materials workers; 6) Driver/sales workers and truck drivers; 7) Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers. Knowing these jobs are located in our district suggests a need for convenient access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals. How does the 8th Congressional District stack up when it comes to health care?

There have been several closures of hospitals in the 8th District during our current Representative’s tenure. Hospitals which have closed include Parkland Health Center in Farmington, Southeast Health Center in Ellington, Twin Rivers Regional Health Center in Kennett, Southeast Health Center of Ripley County and Black River Medical Center in Poplar Bluff. Listed at risk of closing is Iron County Medical Center in Ironton. This is unacceptable when we are in the midst of a pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans and we are home to a number of dangerous jobs.

Healthcare has not been a priority for our current Representative. He has shown a lack of empathy and concern for the health needs of his constituents. It is time to replace him with someone who understands the health care system and the needs of area residents.How financially healthy is the hospital in your community? Will area hospitals receive the support they need from our elected officials? How far do you have to travel to access medical care when you need it?

We need a Representative who will be aggressive in rebuilding the medical community in the 8th District. Who will promote loan forgiveness to medical school students and encourage them to practice in rural areas. We need a Representative who will work to increase Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for rural hospitals to ensure our working families and seniors have a hospital nearby.

When you vote November 3rd you have a choice to make. A Representative who will fight for affordable healthcare for their constituents or a Representative that has let our hospitals close.