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More than 600 (30%) of rural hospitals in the country are at risk of imminent closure

The recent announcement of the closure of Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital came as a surprise to the community. However, it wasn't unanticipated. Although hospital leadership had been warning residents about this possibility for years, it could have been better communicated.

This concerning trend extends to other healthcare facilities such as Cheboygan Memorial Hospital, Leelanau Memorial Health Center, and Crystal Falls hospitals and clinics. In fact, six out of the fourteen remaining hospitals in the UP are operating with negative margins, jeopardizing their continued existence. Medical centers in our district, particularly in Northern Michigan, are consolidating.

Rural America urgently needs a comprehensive plan that addresses healthcare, education, and other critical needs. We must elect leaders who have long-term visions and understand the challenges faced by rural communities. Our state and federal politicians, especially those representing rural areas, should be more knowledgeable about these issues.

To tackle this crisis, Congress should take the following actions:

  1. Support the establishment of medical care goals for rural areas, such as setting maximum response times for emergency medical services and ensuring proximity to the nearest ER or hospitals.

  2. Mandate the development of healthcare plans in each Congressional District, with the involvement of local, state, and federal partners from both the public and private sectors, to meet these goals.

  3. Allocate adequate funding to support these rural medical care plans and meet the needs of the communities.

  4. Expand telehealth services to improve access to healthcare in rural areas.

  5. Provide incentives for healthcare professionals to practice in rural communities.

  6. Support the development and improvement of rural healthcare facilities and infrastructure.

It is essential for us to work collaboratively at the county, state, and federal levels, involving both public and private entities, to establish these goals and create actionable plans. Without this collective effort, progress is impossible.

If elected, I would be honored to propose that the 1st District serve as a pilot budget to turn these plans into reality.

We must champion rural America. With decades of experience as an actively practicing family doctor in rural areas, I would be honored to tackle this problem in Congress and address the future of rural healthcare. So many lives depend on it.


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