Consideration and common sense means better government

Published 12:09 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2018

One of the fascinating things that I have learned in Richmond and while watching Washington is that the biggest problems are created by those who believe they have answers to problems when they look at that problem from their position, with very little consideration or understanding of that problem from those who may better understand the issues involved. Health care is one of those.


Some believe that with “free” money from Washington, we can make everyone healthy. In the last decade, some believed that if government just got people on insurance, they could solve the health care problem. The Obama administration accomplished little other than driving many away from the private insurance market because of cost, and forcing them onto programs that often do not serve the needs of that family. This year, some in Richmond believed they could solve the problems in rural Virginia by throwing money at the problem.

They should come talk to providers in our area. Many doctors and other providers are currently serving about all the patients they can properly handle, much less more patients. Some are stressed trying to help more than possible while juggling government requirements. One that I spoke to recently said they are currently making appointments over a month out because there are too few providers in many of our communities. The greatest reason is that the amount of reimbursement a provider receives for serving Medicaid/Medicare patients is below that of private insurance providers. Higher reimbursements by insurance companies has, for some time, attracted providers away from rural communities. The expansion that the Governor signed last week will not change that dynamic and may well make our situation worse.

This is just one example of how, too often, some look at problems and do not understand that there are more perspectives and, therefore, they do not address issues properly. As with the Affordable Care Act, this will play out to the detriment of more than it serves.


In the late 70s, uranium ore was discovered, and a plan to dig it out of the ground, mill and ship it was proposed. This would have put our air and water at risk for decades to come. The health safety of our citizens would be at risk if they chose not to move from the region. It would imperil the lakes and waterways from the mining site to the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. We have fantastic natural resources, but we must do nothing to put our environment at risk.

Wisely, the Virginia General Assembly blocked this effort. That decision has been revisited several times over the last decade. Each time, the idea was rejected. However, investors, who mostly are far from Virginia, only look at this as an investment in a corporation. A corporation can easily go bankrupt if things do not go well and an expensive cleanup is required. A cleanup with which the taxpayers will be stuck, just as they are to the tune of billions near the Colorado River. Since mining was done in that region, far more is known about the dangers to health and life of innocent victims.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the stockholders’ argument. We should all be concerned. No members of the Court have family within the Roanoke River Basin and, therefore, are unlikely to understand our concerns for our families’ well-being. This is something that should concern all of us.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.