Rural Americans Support Health Care Reform

The media often suggests that rural people do not support congressional action to fix America's health care system. With critical votes approaching in Washington, that claim should be examined.
Rural people are farmers, ranchers, small business owners and their employees. They have first-hand experience with 20 percent annual increases in insurance premiums, and know a lack of access to health care is a barrier for small businesses, farms and ranches.

Our values tell us it is unfair that people who have paid for insurance for years are suddenly denied coverage because they get sick or lose their job. It is an affront to our conscience and responsibility to our neighbors when 18,000 Americans die each year, according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine, because they lack insurance.

Those observations are borne out by a Northwest Area Foundation poll of 4,000 Americans. They found that 74 percent of rural Americans believe that improving access to health care and making health care more affordable should be a top priority for our nation's elected officials.

A Small Business Majority poll found that 71% of rural small business owners in several Midwestern states support reform that provides a choice between a private and public health insurance plan. Support for reform is not partisan, with 66% of Republican small business owners supporting the same choice.

Rural people are counting on our elected leaders to help create a health care system that meets rural health care challenges head on and helps create genuine opportunity in our communities.

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