EDITORIAL: Health care in Powell receives national spotlight

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In Wyoming, we don’t have all the answers to fix our country’s health care system, but we do have some insight to offer Washington, D.C.

In the national debate over health care, Powell recently found itself in an unexpected spotlight.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw came to town this summer, visiting with local physicians about health care in our rural community. The Today Show featured Powell on its Sunday Spotlight this week.

Brokaw described Powell as a “classic small town in can-do country.” As the camera panned the ranch rodeo at the Park County Fair, he called local residents “cowboy tough.”

“But even cowboys need health care,” Brokaw said.

Indeed. In addition to Powell Valley Healthcare, residents also can receive care through 307Health and Heritage Health Center. For a small rural community, Powell is blessed to have three models of care to meet patients’ needs.

But like the rest of America, the system here isn’t perfect. And unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Washington lawmakers are any closer with improvements.

Republicans’ attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare failed this summer; if they’re going to try again, they only have until the end of this month to pass a repeal with a simple majority.

We continue to hope that, instead of ramming flawed legislation through and further deepening the chasm between the right and left, lawmakers from both sides will work together to find lasting solutions.

Wyoming’s senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, were among the 13 men selected to serve on the Senate’s working group on health care.

We encourage them — and their fellow members of Congress — to do what Brokaw did this summer. Visit rural hospitals and clinics off the beaten path, talk with local physicians and even more importantly: Listen to them. These are the men and women caring for patients on Medicaid, limited insurance plans and those who don’t have any coverage. They know what’s working and where the system falls short.

Too often, lawmakers’ discussions on health care happen in the chambers of Congress or worse, behind closed doors. Voices of rural doctors, nurses, employers and patients often are lost among the lobbyists, media and politics in Washington.

We hope that as the national discussion about health care continues, lawmakers across the country listen to their constituents to find patient-centered solutions.

Go to: tinyurl.com/TodayShowPowell to view the NBC Today Show piece.

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