rural issues

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

At the beginning of November, hundreds of new laws took effect in Oklahoma, including a big change to short-term health policies. 

CHRISTINA STELLA / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA

Between late planting, floods, and trade turmoil, many families in agriculture are operating under an extra layer of stress this year. But, addressing mental health in rural communities is more complicated than increasing resources.

It is the 8 a.m. assembly at Cactus Elementary School, located on the bleak plains of the Texas Panhandle. Kids with colorful backpacks and sleepy eyes sit cross-legged on the gym floor while their principal kick-starts the day: "Good morning, Cactus Elementary!" The students crow in response.

Many of them come from poor villages in faraway lands — Central America, Somalia, Myanmar, Congo, Haiti — and they're clearly thrilled to be in school.

People on Medicaid who work rural seasonal jobs in Montana are wondering about the future of their access to health coverage. Montana recently passed a law that, if it gains federal approval and goes into effect as planned in January, would require many Medicaid recipients to prove they work a set number of hours each month.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

In between studying for medical school tests, Ashton Gores walks around the Gathering Place Park in Tulsa, asking people to sign a petition to put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot.

“When I first came out here I was like ‘nobody’s going to want to sign this, I’ll just be sunburning for an hour’ but it was actually really receptive, and people are very nice,” she said.

Rural communities around the country often lack broadband connectivity.

But in Wyoming, the Eastern Shoshone and the Northern Arapaho Tribes have been working to bring high speed internet to their reservation. They’ve started their own telecommunications business to make it happen.

In the fall, livestock veterinarian Dr. Bailey Lammers is often busy with vaccinating calves and helping wean them from their mothers.

A herd of auburn cattle greeted her at the barn gate during one of her house calls in northeastern Nebraska, peering from behind the dirt-caked bars. Lammers and her technician Sadie Kalin pulled equipment from tackleboxes in the back of Lammers’ truck.  

Coasting along the rolling plains leading up to the Iowa caucus, Democratic candidates know they must answer to flyover state voters.

However, not all candidates agree on an approach. Some White House hopefuls double-down on rural outreach by knocking on doors and stopping by the Iowa Steak Fry.

Other candidates may shift focus to city voters, especially women of color, forgetting about rural voters in favor of making up the numbers elsewhere. If that demographic is truly lost, why spend the precious campaign capital on Kentucky coal country?

Heidi de Marco / KHN

At some rural hospitals in Oklahoma, a pattern of controversial businesses practices lead to big profits for the management companies – but high risks for vulnerable hospitals.

The Collapse Of A Hospital Empire — And Towns Left In The Wreckage

Sep 25, 2019
Heidi de Marco / KHN

SWEET SPRINGS, Mo. — The money was so good in the beginning, and it seemed it might gush forever, right through tiny country hospitals in Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and into the coffers of companies controlled by Jorge A. Perez, his family and business partners.

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