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Our small ag producers need health care

The Journal’s March 8 article regarding the difficulties that small agricultural producers have in finding enough help to run their operations was enlightening. One factor that was left out of the discussion, however, is the difficulties that workers have in obtaining affordable and adequate healthcare.

Ag jobs, and many others that involve hard manual labor, generally pay low wages, and in many cases don’t provide benefits. The work is physically difficult, repetitive and, at times, risky.

Unskilled jobs that provide healthcare benefits are scarce and hard to find. Even for those with insurance, out-of-pocket costs continually escalate. Any significant illness or injury can result in massive medical bills along with a loss of employment, home and possessions.

Our own local healthcare system is currently on life support. Under the best of conditions, it struggles to maintain financial viability, recruit providers and provide care. Our Republican leaders in Washington in recent years have done everything they can to exacerbate the situation by waging war on every attempt to reform our health care system.

Meanwhile, our elected Republican leaders in the county and surrounding region, who claim to support our small agricultural producers and other small businesses, remain curiously silent on what their plan is to address the issues. A paradox indeed!

Chris Barnhouse