Written by David Weatherspoon (Democratic Candidate for State Senate District 31)
Health matters. Making sure our community has access to quality and affordable health care should be a high priority for all of our residents and particularly those in office representing the best interests of we the people.
People who have good health care are able to be productive at their places of work. Chronic issues are more easily treated by regular visits to a primary care physician. Preventative care through check-ups and annual physical examinations help provide people with the best opportunity for continued healthy living. Treatment of minor to serious conditions is best diagnosed by the regular visits to the primary care physician and then working in tandem with the patient to determine the best course of care.
Children also need access to quality and affordable health care so they can get the treatment they need and focus on being kids as they discover, learn, and play. Our children are our future, and we need to nurture them with the best opportunity to grow and flourish. Quality health care is one important part of our responsibility to them.
Unfortunately, some of our elected officials have failed in their responsibility to provide access to affordable and quality health care to the people in our county and state. Sen. Kelsey, whom I am hoping to challenge following the Democratic primary, cosponsored a bill to prevent Gov. Haslam from signing Insure Tennessee into law.
This has resulted in the loss of over $4 billion in tax dollars Tennesseans are already paying out of pocket. Tennessee has now had ten rural hospital closures. That’s the second most nationally, and it is the most per capita. According to an NPR story earlier this year, states that did not choose to bring home the dollars they are already paying are six times more likely to close a rural hospital than states that brought home those dollars.
Furthermore, the Tennessee Hospital Association estimates that each rural hospital accounts for approximately 20% of a community’s economy between jobs and services rendered. The ripple effect of losing a hospital is devastating. Some people now have to drive upwards of an hour and a half to two hours to get to a hospital because the local one that could meet their needs in half an hour or less is gone. The difference in minutes and hours to receive health care can be catastrophic.
Sarah, my spouse, and I have two wonderful little girls. Even if we did not work in the health care field, we would likely not move to a place without a hospital. On top of that, how can a community attract new business to a place where the rural hospital just closed? In a time when we want to increase skilled jobs and opportunities for our communities, the decision to prevent the tax dollars we are paying from coming home is adversely affecting not only the economy but the livelihoods of many Tennesseans.
Those dollars would have insured nearly 300,000 residents in Tennessee, and 80,000 of those are here in Shelby County. When people are uninsured and get sick, they usually turn to the emergency room because that is often the only option they believe they have. The cost of paying for those emergency room visits either are felt in higher health care costs for those with insurance or are absorbed by the hospital. If the hospital continues to absorb those costs and cannot stay solvent, it will close.
We need to make sure we bring home our health care dollars. Too much damage has already been done by a cohort of legislators putting their political agendas ahead of the needs of the residents of Tennessee. Their terrible decision tells us we need new representation. We need people in office who have compassion and integrity and who advocate for the needs of all Tennesseans. Let’s get out and vote so that we can have the access to quality and affordable health care we all deserve. Also, to make sure you are registered to vote, please check out our link on our website because your vote matters: https://www.weatherspoon2018.com/voting_info.
Democratic Candidate for State Senate District 31