Letters (March 15, 2017)

Rep. Marshall and the poor among us

So the Republicans have released their replacement for the Affordable Care Act. By most analyses, the conclusion is that rural health care systems will suffer the most with the loss of health insurance subsidies and an erosion of Medicaid.

I care deeply about the future of St. Luke Hospital. My first official job was working in the kitchen and washing dishes in 1964 when I was 15 years old. In 1983 I took on the job of plant operations supervisor, a job I held for 19 years.

My middle daughter, Eliza, is a physician today in part because of the influence and exposure to the medical staff at St. Luke Hospital as role models growing up.

The future of rural health­ care looks like a rocky road without some help from the powers in Washington that distribute a majority of the funding upon which rural hospitals depend.

Marion County is represented in Congress by a medical doctor, Roger Marshall. Will he be a champion for rural health care?

Marshall raised some eyebrows after comments he made during an interview with STAT, a national publication produced by Boston Globe Media that focuses on telling compelling stories about health, medicine and scientific discovery.

Marshall was quoted as saying, “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us.”

Marshall, a member of the 16-person Doctors Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, told STAT, “There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.”

Pressed on that point, he said: “Just, like, homeless people… I think just morally, spiritually, socially (some people) just don’t want health care. The Medicaid population, which is (on) a free credit card, as a group, do probably the least preventative medicine and taking care of themselves and eating healthy and exercising.

“And I’m not judging. I’m just saying socially that’s where they are. So there’s a group of people that even with unlimited access to health care are only going to use the emergency room when their arm is chopped off or when their pneumonia is so bad they get brought (into) the ER.”

So much for that silly “Jesus stuff” about healing the sick or taking care of the least among us.

Harry Bennett,

Madison, Wis.