Farmer plants seeds of change at health care round table

Rand Paul hosts health care roundtable

SHELBY COUNTY, Ky. (WHAS11) – They help make it possible that food gets to your table but a young farm family says the current health care system is creating problems for rural America.

“We're hard workers and we're willing to pay for what is right but it's really tough to have to pay just exuberant costs”, said Mary Courtney, a Shelby County farmer and mother of 4 young children.

Mrs. Courtney spoke to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul during a health care roundtable Monday.

The Kentucky Republican said he is hopeful he can reach an agreement with his own party's leadership to revive plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act also known as “Obamacare”.

Some in his own party are declaring the legislation “dead”.

There were no protests at the morning health care roundtable, the event at the Shelby County Farm Bureau was closed to the public.

The event served as a chance for the agriculture and business community to share their stories with the Senator before he rushed back to DC as lawmakers got back to work.

Senator Paul has been the most vocal opponent of his own party's health care reform bill but he told the group that he remains optimistic that leadership will take his suggestions of association health care plans.

In theory, those plans would allow farmers and other groups of self-employed Americans to pool their resources and risks in order to find affordable healthcare.

Mary Courtney and her husband have about 250 acres Shelby County where they grow a lot of produce that you might find on your table if you eat a restaurant in Louisville or Cincinnati. She was trying to plant the seeds of change with Senator Paul because she and her husband also have 4 children and skyrocketing health care bills.

While the government does not require the Courtneys offer health insurance to their seasonal employees, they say they represent a large group of Americans who need health care reform, young farmers.

"We budget around $50,000 a year (on health care) and the reason for that is because we have a very high monthly premium, then we have a high deductible and it seems like, with a family of six, if somebody doesn't have a health issue it seems like somebody else does,” Mary said.

She described being grandfathered into an insurance plan when the Affordable Care Act took effect.

That plan allowed one of their children to have required care from a specialist out of state. But as time wore on, the insurance company took away that option leaving them in search of a new plan.

"We did some digging”, Mary explained. “As much as it went against my core, to go on the state funded programs. But then we couldn't get coverage for him if we needed it, out of state."

Instead, they keep a tight budget and hope that someone is listening to the story of rural America and willing to set aside their differences to make a difference.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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