Texas, we have literally failed.

We are literally failing to provide care to our rural communities -- you know, the places where your aunts and uncles might live, where my cousins are raising their family. The point is, you probably know and love someone, or ARE someone living in a rural community. This is our reality according to The Texas Observer based on findings from a study conducted by our own Texas Tech University and published in Rural Health Quarterly.

In other words, we ourselves found this to be true about our own communities:

Texas earned an “F” in the “access to care” category, including access to rural physicians, mental health professionals and dentists. Eighty Texas counties have five or fewer doctors, and 35 have no doctor at all [...] Among other factors, Texas was dinged for high rates of death from heart disease and stroke in rural areas.

Our overall grade was a still failing D- and we rank no. 36 in the U.S. (Some states were not included because they lack a statistically significant amount of rural areas.) Other states with dire rural care are clustered around us in the south: Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and all the way to Florida.

What's causing such a terrible ranking and the real world reality of our rural Texas neighbors dying of preventable diseases? Access. "Eighty Texas counties have five or fewer doctors, and 35 have no doctor at all."

Small town doctor shortages and sky-high uninsured rates are to blame. Has anyone made any effort to fix this?

Advocates have for years called on the Texas Legislature to address crumbling rural health care in the state, where in some cases residents must drive hours to the nearest hospital. Despite advocates’ efforts, small towns have been plagued by a wave of hospital closures, at least 18 since 2013. That problem likely will be exacerbated when funding — provided by a critical Medicaid waiver program — to the remaining facilities is cut in the near future.

Does this make you as angry as it makes me? Have you lost someone you love way too early, from a preventable disease, like I have? Then let your voice be heard. Find your representative. Call or write them and demand that Texans start taking care of Texans.



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