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JOURNAL STAR MORNING LINCOLN, NE

DAILY

Circulation = 74795

05/26/2009

insurance stories online YouTube project showcasing Nebraskans' frustrations aims to prompt action from congressional delegation, organizers say.

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BY NANCY HICKS

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L~ncolnJournal Star

Beginning at 8 a.m. today, a new health insurance horror story will be posted once an hour on YouTube and sent to Nebras ka's congressional delegation. Horror stories such as: I111 some years, premiuills have risen 50 percent for one small-business owner. So every year it's an adventure looking for affordable coverage for his 30 employees. IBlue Cross Blue Shield in -Iowa and Kansas- would have covered the cost of spinal surgery a girl needed so she wouldn't be stuck in a wheelchair all her life. But not Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. The Nebraska family proceeded with the surgery anyway and then, with the help of an attor ney, fought the insurance company for several years. A farming couple paid $15,000 a year for health insur-

On the Web You can access the stories at changethatworks.net/ nebraska and YouTube.com/ Change'rhatWorksNE ance, and many people they know can't afford coverage. There will be 24 different Nebraska stories posted on the site. The two-minute videos, which capture people's frustratioil with the current health insurance system, were-collected by Nebraska orgailizations inter ested in health care reform. The first story will be posted at 8 a.m. Then one will be posted every hour to reillind the state's coilgressional delegation "that Nelxaskans are thinking about health care 24/7 and they need to take action now:' said Laura Larsen, political director for Service Enlployees International Union-Change That Works.

The videos, filmed over the past couple of weeks, show people expiaining their struggles with the health care system and the insurance industry, Larsen said. The stories include people with insurance, people who have lost their insurance and people who can't afford insurance. The project, unique to Nebraska, grew out of a brainstorllling meeting of agencies involved in health care reform. As they talked, they realized they had a common experience: that the people they met across Nebraska wanted to tell their stories and talk about their frustrations, Larseil said. This project gives a voice to individual Nebraskans, she said. Although anyone can access the stories online, they are specifically aimed at Nebraska's congressinen and senators. Toplevel staff meinbers for each of-

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See INSURANCE, Page B3

Insurance Continued from Page B l

ficial will receive e-mails with links to each new story. "When these elected leaders think about the issue, we want them to remember the stories of their constituents ... what they were going through, instead of what they hear in Washington," Larsen said. The fact that 24 stories could be found in a very short period of time reflects the scope of the problem, said Jennifer Carter of the Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest. "Everyone's got a health care story," she said. Organizations involved in the project are SEIU Change That Works; Nebraska Appleseed Center; Center.for Rural Affairs; Health Care for Americans Now, Nebraska Chapter; and American Cancer Society inNebraska. The groups are encouraging reform that includes a public-private partnership. "All the groups are saying what we have now is broken," Larsen said. "We need an open and honest debate!' Reach Nancy Hicks at 473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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Muscatine Journal Muscatine,lA Circ. 7598

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Hklth care reform a

If you want to see just how badly broken America's health care system is come to the country. Be careful during your visit, however, because rural America-where just nine percent of the nation's doctors serve 17 percent of its citizens scattered across 80 percent of its geography-is not an ideal place to find medical care. It's an even worse place to get medical insurance, accordingto April 2009 report issued by the Center for Rural Affairs (CML ~ O ~In ~fact, E if .you want to put a face on the need for Congress and the White Home to reform the nation's health care system 'look no further than the weathered ones of farmers and ranchers. The reasons for r e f o p , are evident, says Jon Bailey, director of rural research and nnalysjc at CRA.Bailey caauthored the report with colleague Julia Hudson and Dr. Joe Blankemu, a professor of politics at Wayne (NE) State University. First, he riotes, rural Americans need health care insurance more than urban counterparts because their demographic-older, poorer and less educated-means greater use of the health care system. Insurance to cover that need, though, is growing problem in rural America. "Overall, 72 percent of the urban non-elderly have

insurance through employers:' explains the CRA report. It's 61percent for rural non-elderly. Most of the fall-off can be traced to jobs. Rural America is dominated by small business and "people working for small business are twice as likely to be uninsured:' says the CRA report. Moreover, n dbusiness is usually low-wage business, the key reason why maiy locate in rural areas. And a big key to that low wage is not,providinghealth insurance. "Workers making about $7per hour are three times more likely to be uninsured" than workers in higher-wage jobs, claims the report. hen there's the biggie: self-employment. "About 33 percent of rural residents are self employed, a much higher rate than the roughly 21 percent of self-employed , urban residents!' Selfemployment, especially in rural America, is an elemental factor in "geater health insurance vulnerability!' The'sereasons, and more, meahmost rival Americans have eithyr no insurance, inadequate or less comprehensive insurance or more costly health insurance than urban Americans. In fact, notes the teport, while only eight percent of all Americans have individual policies, "33 percent of all farmers andranchers" rely on such policies. More importantly, Bailey explainsin a May 19 telephone interview, "Health insurance coverage and cost is an 'anything goes, wild west show: across rural America!' There's little regu'

lation, little competitionand fewer options for this more vulnerable group, he says. But health care reform, Congress and the Administration's key legislative goal this year, might not fix the problem, says Bdey. "Everyone agrees health care costs need to be reined in; few agree on how to do it:' he notes. The biggest issue is designing a way for the current market to contain rampant costs (up 78percent between 2001 and 2007)or establishing "a public h d t h insurance option:' Bailey explains, Ifto increase com~etition!' . He favors the latter, he says, because it will that more insurance o~tions are more compe&ivelypriced for rural Americans as well as at least maintain, and maybe even increase, health care choices , throughout W and'mch country. Bailey is right. Relying on health insurance companies to fix health h b n c e is like relying bankers to fix banks. A government backed alternative-there still will be private providers-will ensure a reform program actually reforms today's limping system. Then again we can continue to pay more for less until we qualify for better, cheap'er care under Medicaid and Medicare. Oh, that's a governmentbacked option, too, isn't it? Alan Guebertof Delevan, Il11., writesa syndicates wlumn of^ @d- . cultureissues. Contad him at ag#mm@tq@baal.net

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BURT CO. PLAINDEALER TEKAMAH, Nebraska

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Wednesday, May 13,2009 WEEKLY 1588 18.26 sq. inches $8.27 AI

Connealy oins Lyons center The jknkr for RumLAf&irs has hired Matt Connealy as its Major Gift Development Director. His official start date was May 1. Connealy will focus on large donor and endowment fund-raising. "Working for the advancement of Rural America has been a passion of mine." said Connealy. "Being able to continue that is a great thing for me." Connealy lives about 10 miles

between Lyons and Decatur. He farmed for nearly 30 years in Burt County and Thurston County, served in the Legislature for eight years, ran for Congress in 2004 and served for the last two years as Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Along With raising many dollars for political efforts in the past, Matt and his wife, Judy, led a successful drive over the past two years to raise $1.5 million for the

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Sears Center for Seniors and Wellness which is scheduled to break ground in Decatur on Saturday. Connealy's position is new at theCenterfor_ButaLaffairs,a

spokesman said. Connealy's considerable skills and experience will be focused on enlarging the Center's Granary endowment and on obtaining large gifts to secure ~ the Center's work for the f u t u of rural America.

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Times-Citizen Iowa Falls,lA Circ. 3745 From Page:

Mental health care deficit alarming ay is National Mental Health Awaren e s s Month. However, over half of the qunties in the United States have no mental health professionals, a situation that bas changed little in 45 years. Mental health andbeha;viorat health issues take from 20 to 25 percent of primary care physicians' workload taxing an already stressed rural health care system. Resewh has shown that patients who receive specialized mental health can an much more likely to receive adequate treatment â‚Źhim mxivh g general medical care. Unfortunately, the conclusion that rural.individuals irreive poorer quality mental health care is unavoidable. The lack of mental health pmfessionals affects children as well. Part of the reason so many children were dropped off at

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Nebraska hospitals under the safe haven law was due to a lack of & ' mental health sa7rices. Public policy has .done little to address major sources of this nual disparity - the need for mid-lwel professionals to provide mental health services and a marketplace for such services. Health care reform legisbtion can begin to address these disparities by providing incentives and reimbursement mechanisms for mid-level mental health providers (providers at the bachelor's and master's degne level) in rival areas and by pmiding resources fbr a specialty mental health marketplace 'similar t o what exists fw rural medical clin-

ics. In the coming weeks the Center fix Rural A f b h will release a report titled "Mental Health ib Rural

America," which will look at the issue niore'in depth. To view past. reports - and for more information visit: www.cFra.org.

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COLUMBUS,Nebraska

Tuesday, May 26,2009 DAILY 9347

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If you want to see just how badly broken America's health care system is, come to the country. Be careful during your Visit, however, because ruralAmerica where just 9 percent of the nation's doctors serve 17 percent of its citizens scattered across 80 percent of its ge-y Is net an ideal place to find me&& care. It's an even worse plece to get medical insurance, according to an April 2009 report issued by the Gmbr for R d m r s(CRA)in Lyons.In fact, if you want to put a face on the need for Congress and the White House to reform the nation's health care systemloolt no furthk than tho&of farmers and ranchers. The reasons for nefonn are evident, says Jon Bailey, director of ruralresearchand analysis at CRA. Bailey co-authored the report with colleague JuliaHudson'and Dr. Joe Blanlcenau, a professor of politics at Wayne (Nebraska)State College. He notes'mal Americans need health care insurance more than urban counterparts because their demographic older, poorer and less educated means greater use of the health care system. "Overall, 72 &pent of the urbannonelderly have insurancethrough employers," explains the CRA report. It's 61percent for ruralnon-elderly, Most of the fall-off can be traced to

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insurance coverage and cost is an 'anyjobs. Rural America is thinggoes, wild west show,' across rural dominatedby small America."There's little regulation, little business and "people competition and f+wer options for this. working h r small busimore vuluerable goup, he says. ness are twice as likely to But health care reform, Congress and be uninsured," says the the addnhtratfon's key legislativegoal CRA report. thisyear, might not fix the problem, says Moreover, ruralbusiBdey. 'Everyone agrees health care costs ness is usually low-wage need to be reined in; few agree on how to business, the key reason do it? he said. why many locate in rural The biggest h u e is designinga way for areas. And a big key to the current market to contain rampant that low wage is not providing health insurance. "Workers making about $7 per costs (up 78 percent between 2001and 2007) or establishing "a public health hour are three times more likely to be inmance option," Bailey explains, "to uninsured" than workers in higher-wage increase competition? jobs, claims the report. He favors the latter, he says, because it Then there's the biggie: self-employment. 'About 33 cent of rivalresidents willprovide more insurance options that are selt e m p l axmuch higher rate than are more competitively-priced for rural Americans as well as at least maintain, the roughly u percent of self-employed and maybe even increase, health care urban residents!' choicesin ag country. These reasons, and more, mean most rural Americans haveeither no insurance, Bailey is right. A government-backed alternative - there still will be private inadequate or less comprehensive insurance or more costly health insurancethan providers will ensure a reform program. Then again we can continue to pay more urban Americaus. In Eact ,notes the for less until we qualifyfor better, cheaper report, while only 8 percent of all care m&r Medicaid and Medicare. Oh, Americans have individual policies, "33 petcent of all farmers and ranchers" rely that's a government-backed option, too. on such policies. A h GueW canbe reachetiat 22673 More importantly, Bailey explained in a QgoDriue, mlavanII,6 2or at ~ May 19 telephone interview, "Health (64comrn@s~iobalbal net.

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Forter~berryHelps

Introduce Legislation to Encourage Wlnd Energy Development

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Washington, DC Congressman : JeffFortenberry has joined Congress- ' woman Stephanie He& Sandlin (D: South Dakota) to help introduce the :: Rural Energy Equity Act that expands :: opportunities for wind energy pmduction in ruralAmerica. Fortenbeny and : Herseth Sandlin also sponsored the :j legislation last year. "Wind energy can help create a more sustainable energy future for :. America," Fortenberry said. "Ne- ; braska, along with other states across : the Midwest, has p a t potential in . harnessing energy from the wind. . Public policy should play an important : role in encouraging wind power and : other clean energy technologies. This .: legislation makes ahstruction of wind ,: projects easier by npairing an inequity .: in the income tax code!' "Wind energy is abundant ammthe :: Great Plains and can play a critical and : increasing role in moving America :: towards energy independence," Rep. .{ Herseth Sandlin said. "This bill will make it easier - and mote financially : attractive - to invest in community ; wind and other local energy projects, serving not only to move our country toward greater energy security, but to encourage economic development in ,' rural communities in South Dakota '. and across the country." Under current law farmers can, : receive grant and loan guarantees for community wind and other locally- ; owned energy projects under the R d : Energy for America Rogram(REAP). ; They often partner with wind devel- 1 opers to finance these pro&tp. The ; developem are eligible for the federal :

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wind projects,but the credit is reduced if the project involves grants or loan guarantees f r o m U P . This legislation allows wind producers to be eligible for the full tax credit regardless of w h e t h e r W funding is involved in the project. A member of the House Agriculture Committee, Fortenberry has sponsored several initiatives for alternative energy development in rural America.

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NEMAHA CO. HERALD AUBURN, Nebraska

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Peadline to Apply for Value Added Producer Grants Approaching; Center Begins Farm Bill Helpllne i'Lyons - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently that July 6 is the deadline to apply for Value Added Producer Grants. A special reserve is set aside for beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The deadline to apply for reserved funds is June 22. "Any farmer or rancher needing planning or working capital funds to move their value-added ideas forward should check out the Value-Added Producer Grants program." commented Traci B~cknerof the Center far Rural Affairs. "Individuals interested in applying for a Value-Added Producer Grant should not hesitate as the deadline is quickly approaching and the process can be extensive." USDA Rural Development has $18 million available this funding cycle to develop value-added agriculture business ventures.Ten percent of that 'is set-aside specifically for beginning and/orsociallydisadvantaged f m e e and ranchers. According toBrucher,the program was created to help producers expand their customer base for the products or commodities they produce. This results in a greater portion of revenues derived from the value-added activity being made available lo the

producer of the product. TheCenter and how to apply, visit: http://www.

h Rural Affairsis gearing up to help nudev.uda.govlrbs/cmps/vadg.htm producers as much as possible during the application period by operating a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in and receive assistance in accessing the Value Added Producer Grants Program. Agricultural producers, businesses owned by a majority of agricultural producers, and organizations representing agricultural producers are eligible to apply for Value Added Producer Grants for business planning or working capital expenses associated with marketing a value-added agricultural product. Agricultural producers include farmers, ranchers, loggers. agricultural harvesters and fishermen that engage in the production or harvesting of an agricultural "USDA's Value Added Producer Grants help address economic decline and poverty in ~ r a areas l by helping fanners and ranchers access premium markets with new strategies like COoperative marketing of grassfed meats or processing of organic grains into specialty breads and pastas through grants for planning, marketing or feasibility studiesor working capit&" commented lhckner. For more inf~lltlati~n On the ValueAdded Producer Grants Program

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Or contact Mike Heavrin, Program CooperativeDevelopment Manager at the Center for Rural A at (402) 687-2103 ext 1008, mikeh@cfra.org or Traci Bruckner, Assistant Director for the Rural Policy Program at the Center for Rural Affairs at (402) 6872103 ext. 1016, tracib@cfra.org. " T h e u t f~ o r m A m has a long history of assisting family farmem and ranchers to access farm bill =rams." added B ~ h e r' .m g h our helpline you will get to speak to a ~ a person l who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program." Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Fann Bill Helpline. The Value Added Producer Grant is not the only program covered by the Center's Farm Bill Helpline. Assistance is also available for the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation PMnerships Initiative. the Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic lnitiative and a host of Beginning Farmer and Rancher provisions. For more information visit: www. cfra.org

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NEMAHA CO. HERALD AUBURN, Nebraska

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$1.8 Million Set Aside for Nebraska Organic Farmers Sign-up Underway; Center Offers Farm Bill Help Line Lyons - Nebraska Farmers transitioning to organic farming and those already conducting organic practices now have an opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) money to assist their organic efforts. The USDA recently announced that $50 million out of $1 billion EQIP funds will be set aside for a special three-week sign-up for farms converting to organic production or expanding their organic production. Those with existing organic farms who desire to reach even higher levels of environmental performance are also eligible. The State of Nebraska will receive $1.8 million to support organic transition through this national EQIP sign UP.

The sign-up period began May 1 I and continues through Friday, May 29. Farmers can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing. and forage harvest management) under the program. These are available on a nationwide basis. Farmers who want to apply for these funds should visit their local District County Natural Resource Conservation Service office. "We commend NRCS and USDA leadership for listening to the concerns of organic farmers and applaud their new initiative," commented Traci Bruckner. b t e r for Ruml Affairs. "lt's unfortunate though that farmers

have a very small window of only three weeks to sign up for the program and it's during the busiest time for farmers the middle of planting season ." According to Bruckner, the Center for Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during this short application window. The Center is operating a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in and receive assistance in accessing new conservation programs like the EQlP organic initiative. "The Center for Rural Affairs has a long history of assisting family farmers arid ranchers to access new conservation programs," added Bmckner. "Through our helpline you will get to speak to a real person who is knowledgeable about the program mles to help you understand how to participate in the program." Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Fann Bill Helpline. According to Bmckner, it is crucial that eligible producers move quickly because the time allowed for applicati6ns to this special EQIP sign up is only three weeks, beginning May 1 Ith and ending May 29th. The EQIP organic initiative assistance is not the only program covered by the Center's Fann Bill Helpline. Assistance is also available for the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, the Value Added Agricultural Market Development Program and a host of Beginning Farmer and Rancher provisions.

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STANDARD OXFORD, Nebraska

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Pricing next I&â‚Ź topic Pricing for Profit is the topic of the May 18th 1 & E Club meeting in Minden. Monica Braun of the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) will present the topic and engage discussion. The meeting is open to all inventors, investors and entrepreneurs whether they have an existing or startup business--or just a business idea. Starting time is 6:00 pm for the meeting which will be held at the Minden Fire Hall, 325 N Colorado Ave. For entrepreneurs, pricing takes into consideration a variety of things. It's important to know the target market, the competition and the input costs. Braun will be discussing these factors in determining the "right" price, as well as bringing examples of the pricing of products and services. Participants can input their own information if they have it available. The I & E Club is a supportive group of Inventors, Innovators and Entrepreneurs . For more information, contact Club Chairs: Lisa Kamatz Stadler, Keamey County Economic Development Agency. 308-830-3206; or Monica Boyken, Phelps County Development Corp., 308-995-4 148.

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STANDARD HUMBOLDT, Nebraska

Thursday, May 14,2009 WEEKLY 1176 28.23 sq. inches $5 2

$1.8 Million Set Aside For Nebraska Organic Farmers Sign Up For Program Begins Nebraska Farmers transitioning to organic farming and those already conducting organic practices now have an opportunity to apply for Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) money to assist their organic efforts. The USDA recently announced that $50 million out of $1billion EQIP funds will be set aside for a special three-week sign-up for farms converting to organic production or expanding their organic production. Those with existing organic farms who desire to reach even higher levels of environmental performance are also eligible. The State of Nebraska will receive $1.8 million to support organic transition through this national EQIP sign up.

The sign-up period, begins Monday, May 11 and goes through Friday, May 29. Farmers can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational

grazing, and forage harvest management) under the program. These are .available on a nationwide basis. Farmers who want to apply for these funds should visit their local District County Natural Resource Conservation Service office. "The Center for Rural Affairs has a long history of assisting family farmers and ranchers to access new conservation programs," added Bruckner. "Through our helpline you will get to speak to.a .real person .who i i knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program." Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline. The EQIP organic initiative assistance is not the only program covered by the Center's Farm Bill Helpline. Assistance is also available for the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Cooperative Conservation Partnerships Initiative, the Value Added Agricultural Market Development Program and a host of Beginning Farmer and Rancher provisions. 3

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TRIBUNE HASTINGS, Nebraska

Saturday, May 23,2009 DAlLY 11794 sq. inches 48.12 $14.89 E1

Health care system puts rural areas at risk

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f you want to see lust how badly broken America's health care system is, come to the country, Be carefulduring your visit, however, because nual America -where just 9 percent of the nation's doctors m e 17 percent of its citizens scattered across 80 percent of its geography -isnotan ideal place to find medical care!.

It's an even worse place to get medical insurance, according to April 2009 report issued by the cm niLyons, Neb. In fact, if you want to put a face on the need for Congress and the White House to reform the nation's health care system, look no further' than the weathered ones of farmers and ranchers. The reasons for refom are evident, says Jon Bailey, director of nual research and analysis at CRA. Bailey co-authored the report with colleagueJulia Hudson and Dr. Joe Blankenau, a professor of politics at Wayne State College. First, he notes, rural

Guebert: Rural America needs health care reform

Americans need health care insurance more than urban counterparts because their demographic older, poorer and less educated means greater use of the health care system. Insurance to cover that need, though, is growing problem in n d America. 'Overall, 72'@r~?1ltbffhe'' urban non-elderly have insurance through ernplayen," explains the CRA report. It's 61 percent for rural non-elderly. Most of the falldff can be traced to jobs. Rural America is dominated by small business, and "people working for small business are twice as likely to be uninsured," says the CRA report. Moreover, rural buiiess is usually low-wage business, the key reason why many locate in rural areas. And a big key to that low wage is not providing health insurance. "Workers making about $7 per hour are three times more likely to be uninsured" than workers in higher-wage jobs,claims the report. Then there's the biggie: selfemployment. "About 33 percent of rural residents are self employed, a much higher rate than the roughly 21 percent of self-employed urban residents." Self-employment, especially in rural America, is an elemental

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factor in "greater health insurance vulnerability." These reasons, and more, mean most rural Americans have either no insurance, inadequate or less comprehensive inmance or more costly health insurance than urban Americans. In fact, notes the re rt, while only eight p a n t o all Americans have individual policies, y33 ent of all h e r s a n d r a n ersUrelyon such polides. More importantly, Bailey explains in a May 19 telephone interview, "Health insurance coverage and cost is an 'anything goes, wild west showl' m s s rural America." There's little regulation, little competition and fewer options for this more vulnerable group, he

P"

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says.

Contffu8dhmpgeN health hsuqmce option," Bailey explains, "to increase competition." He hvon the l a b , he says, because it will pmvide mo-re hswagce options that are more competitively-priced for NtalAmericans as well as at least maintain, and inaybe wen increase, health 'care choices throughout h and ranch country. .Bailey is right, Relying on health Insbraice cohpanlestb fix health Insur;ince is like rely ing bankers to fix banks. A govemment-badred alternativethere still will be private providers -will ensure a

*0mp3Y' y's limping a-W system. Then again, we can continue

reforms

to pay more for leu und we qualify for better, cheaper care under Medicaid and Medicare. Oh, that's a govemmentbacked option, too, isn't it? Alan Oarban can be reached at PO. Box 648, pelavan,:lL'

But health care reform, 61734 or e-mail at, agcomm@sbc~lobal.net. Congress and the Administration's key legislative goal thisyeat, might not Bx the problem, says Bailey. "Everyone agrees health c a ~ costs need to be reined in; few agree on how to do it," he notes. The biggest issue is designing a way for the current market to contain rampant costs (up 78 percent between 2001,and 2007) or establishing "a public P w r see G U E B E R T I ~EZ4,, ~~~

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REPUBLICAN IMPERIAL, Nebraska

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Center: rural mental health overlooked, disregarded Report examines dgiciencies of mental health care system in rural Amen'ca This week, as National Mental Health Awareness Month is drawing to a close, the Center for Rwd kdkii released a report entitled, "Mental Health: Overlooked and Disregarded in Rural America." The report examines what one author, Kim Preston, calls, "the alarming deficiencies of the mental health care system in rural America." According to Preston, Rural Research Assistant for the Center far Rural Affairs, rural Americans remain under served in terms of mental health care providers and health insurance coverage for mental health services despite the fact rural Americans suffer just as much from mental illness. "This report further demonstrates that rural America's economic dependence on small business and self-employmentcalls for health care reform that includes an affordable, meaningful public health insurance option. And that any such reform should also ensure that all Americans, rural and

urban, have reasonable access to counterparts. quality mental health care," PresStress-Stress is associated with increased mental health disorders ton added. The Baler for and rural people experience stress in collaboration with Dr. Dianne with cyclical farm crises, natural Travers Gustafson, Creighton Uni- disasters and social isolation. Barriers of Availability-More versity, Omaha, Nebraska, recently undertook the task of evaluating than $5 percent of the 1,669 federrural Americans' access to mental ally designated mental health professional shortage areas are rural. health care services. This is the fourth in a series of Lack of Accessibility--Only in DWcfkRuraLBffairs reports rural America did the National Adexamining crucial health care is- visory Committee on Rural Health sues in rural America. Previous 41993)find entire counties with no reports can be found on the h n t practicing psychiatrists, psycholopage of the Center's website gists, or social workers. Social Stigma-The social stigcfhm~. ma attached to mental health A full copy of the report can be viewed and downloaded at httD:/l problems in combination with a general lackof anonymity in many Wcfralarx/pclf/Mental1Hea1& Overlooked-and-Disraiarded-h small communities le?ds some Rural-America.~df people to forego treatment. Lack of affordable, meaningful Report findings: Dc?pression-Major depression health insurance coverag&-Rural rates in some rural areas signifi- Americans are less likely than urban Americans to have health cantly exceed those in urban areas. insurance that covers mental o r Teens and older adults in rural areas have significantly higher behavioral health services. suicide rates than their urban

Universal Information Services , lnc. http://news.universaI-info.com Profile: 1II - Center for Rural Affairs Recipient: John Crabtree

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Small window big opportunity for Nebraska farmers By Ellsha Greeley Smlth, ellshasOcfra.org Centerfor Rural Affairs

The USDArecently announced that $1.8 million of EQIP funds has been set aside for a special three-week sign-up for Nebraska farms converting to organic production or expanding their organic production. Those with existing organic farms who desire to reach even higher levels of environmental performance are also eligible. The Nebraska funds are part of a nationwide effort. USDA has set aside $50 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for this opportunity. Unfortunately fanners have only three weeks to enroll in the program, and it's during the busiest time for farmers - the middle of planting season. The sign up period began Monday, May 11 and goes through Friday, May 29. Fanners can receive compensation for six core conservation practices (conservation crop rotation, cover cropping, integrated pest management, nutrient management, rotational grazing, and forage harvest management) under the program. Farmers who want to apply should visit their Natural Resource Conservation Service office. The application process can be confusing and complicated, but fortunately, help is available. The C m t d o r Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during this short application window. The Center is operating a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in and receive assistance in accessing programs like the EQIP organic initiative. Through our helpline you will speak to a real person who is knowledgeable about the program rules to help you understand how to participate in the program. Producers can call (402) 687-2100 and ask for the Farm Bill Helpline

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'%dueadded producer grants available The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that July 6 is the deadline to apply for Value Added Producer Grants. A special reserve ! is sel aside for beginning farmers and ranchers and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The deadline to apply for reserved funds is lune 23. "Any farmer or rancher needing planning or working capital funds to move their value-added ideas forward should check out the Value-Added Producer Grants program," co~ntnetltedTraci Bruckner of the Ccntci- for Rural Affairs. "Individuals interested in applying for a Value-Added Producer Grant should nut hesitate as the deadline is quickly approaching and the process can be extensive." US13.4 Rural Development has $1 8 million available this funding cycle to develop value-added agriculture business ventures. Ten per. cent of that is set-aside specifically for beginning and/or socially disadvantaged firrnlers and ranchers. According to Bruckner, the program was created to help producers expand thcir customer base for the products or commodities they produce. This results in a greater por.tion of revenues derived from the [ value-added activity being made

available to the producer of the product. The Center for Rural Affairs is gearing up to help producers as much as possible during the application period by operating a Farm Bill Helpline where producers can call in and receive assistance in accessing the Value Added Producer Grants Program. Agricultural producers, businesses owned by a majority of* agricultural producers. and organizations representing agricultural producers are eligible to apply for Value Added Producer Grants for business planning or working capital expenses associated with marketing a value-added agricultural product. Agricultural producers include farnlers, ranchers, loggers, agricultural harvesters and fishermen that engage in the production or harvesting of an agricultural commodity. For more information on the Value-Added Producer Grants Program and how to apply, visit: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/ coops/vadg.htm. Or contact Mike Heavrin, Program Cooperative Development Manager at the Center for Rural Affairs at 687-2103 ext


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The Center for K ~ ~ rAfSairs al recently hired Matt Col~neallyas the ,Major Gift Development Director. His official start clate was May 1. Conneally will focu\ on large donor and endown-len~fundraising. "Working for the advancement of Rural Ainerica has been a passion of mine," said Conneally. "Being able to continue that is a great thing for me!" Matt resides ;ibout 10 miles east of Lyons. at rural Decatur. He farmed for nearly 30 years in Hurt and Thurston County. served in the

Lcgislature for eight years, ran for Congress in 2004 and served for the last two years as Executive Director of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Along with raising many dollars for political efforts in the past, Matt and his wife Judy led a successful drive over the past two years to raise $1.5 million for the Dzcatur Seniors and Wellness Center. This is a brand new position at the Center for Rural Affairs. I t brings Matt's considerable skills and experience together to focus

on enlarging the Center's Granary endowment and on securing large gifts to secure the future of the Center's work for rural America. The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 50 1 (c)3. The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and works to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.


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In Nebraska, report says, even those with full-time jobs are finding it difficult to meet basic needs.

and the parent could get by working just two full-time, minimumwage johs. NOMImove the same family to York, and Il/2 full-time jobs should cover food, housing, child care, health care, transportation costs and taxes. Bottom line: Many hardworkBY ERIN ANDERSEN Lincoln Journal Star ing families cannot survive oil In Lincoln, a single parent rais- Nebraska's wages, according to Fainily Rottorn Linc ing two kids ages 4 and 8 needs to the issued today by work 21/2 full-time, n ~ i n i n ~ u m - report wage jobs to meet a family's basic Opportunity @Work Coalition. "Many Nebraskans are playing needs. Move that family to Coluinbus, by the rules but still are not ahle to

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gain financial stability," said Anneinarie Bailey Fowler, research and Opportunity@Work coordinatnr at V(~icesfor Children in Nebraska, which collaborated with the University of NebraskaLincoln, Coinmunity Action of Nebraska and the Center for Rural Affairs to produce the Feport. "These families are doing all the right things - working hard,

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IUrban dwellers: 32 ~ercent for both adults in a two-parent home; 48 percent for a single parent. R Rural dwellers: 29 percent for both adults in a two-parent home; 42 percent for a single parent. Child care is the largest expense for most families in Nebraska. It can req~~ire: 22 to 28 percent of the family budget in two-adult households. 5 27 to 32 percent of the budget in one-adult households. Nebraska often is ranked high for the number of people working, but the state's child and family poverty rates have been on the rise since 2000. From 2000 to 2007, child poverty in Nebraska increased from 1 0 to 15 percent. Family poverty increased from 6.5 to more than 8 percent.

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holding down full -time jobs, of ten more than one job, and doing all they can to take care of their children's (and) farilily's needs and they are not gettingby." This is not just a family problem but a community, business and statewide issue that will require a collaborative approach, the Opportunity@Work Coalition said. "Thc consequence of not recognizing this is a weak 11nkin Nebraska," Fowler said during an online news confer~ncc.lh7ednsday. "This is not a family issue - but

trhe Fami b b m Line report

Thc Family Bottom Line R $24.135 in rural counties. report published by the 5 $27,320 In urban counties. 0p:~ortunity@Work Coalition $32,411 in metropolitan uscd data from all 9 3 Nebrasha counties and10 different counties. fa; (lily types, inciud!ng one- . 'Thestandard-full-time-jobis ar10two-parent househqlds ':;4(~ hoij!~ p@i&ek,-?<be $;if. 311dvi~ryingages of children sufficientwith a minimum. from infant to teenager. It di- wage job, a single parent with vided counties into rnetropoli- a preschooler and school-age tan, urban and rural catechild must work: gories. 95 houis a week in a metTo meet basic family needs, a ropolitan area, hp~~schold with two adults, a preschooler and a school-age B 80.2 hours a week in an urban area such a s Grand Ischild needs a minimum inland, Beatrice or Hastings. come of: 7 1 hours a week in a rural $32.817 in such rural counties a s Cheyenne, Kear- area such a s Fairbury or York. ney. Po14 and Hamilton. The standard work week is $36.897 in such urban equal to about 24 percent of counties a s Buffalo, Hall and the time in a seven-day week. Scotts Bluff. For mlnimum-wage-earning R $40,597 in such metropoli families, a greater percentage of tlnie must be spent worktan counties a s Lancaster. ing. Douglas and Washington. 8 Metropolitan dwellers: 3 5 A single parent with a prepercent for both adults in a schooler and a school-age two-parent home; 56 percent child needs a minimum infor a single-parenthome. , come of:

JOIII<NAI. STAR Thursday, May 21,2009

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a work force issue that impacts the state and the community!' The coalition, which presented its Fainily Hottoin 1,irlc report to r s leaders on state I ~ g i s l ~ ~ t oand Wednesday, is calling for a collaborative government, hu\iness and community response. Unlike other reports that use federal incoint guidelines for determining poverty, The Family Rottom 1,ine report puts real cost -of-living nuinhers to raising a family in Nebraska. "lt shows that the minimum See FAMILIES, Page B2

aicn The I 'i~nllyR o t tom Line u\cc thc Famil, btoi~omic Self-Sufficiency Standard to deterniine actual market costs. Gcilerally speaking, it's inore expensive to live in a lnetropolitan area and have younger children. The coalition report calls for better-paying jobs, inore educational opportunities, more affordable child care and health care and expanded safety nets to hclp struggling families get on their feet before losing all of their public financial assistance. "By working together and recognizing the family bot tom line as a current reality for families, we know the vision for Nebraska can be f~~lfilled - a stronger Nebraska with broad financial stability, cost-cffective government and mutual responsibility," Fowler said.

inco~neiiecessarv for a family to get by is niuch higher than what is commonly recognized," Fowler said. Federal guidelines define poverty for a family of four as less t h i i $21,200 a year. That ineans a fanlily with adults working full-time, minimum -wage jobs and bringing home $27,484 a year should be self-sufficient. But in reality, that family falls thousands of dollars short of wllat it actually needs to cover basic costs of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, such miscellaneous expenses as diapers, clotl~ingand cleaning supplies and taxes, Fowler said. The gap can be as high as $13,521, depending on the ages of the childre11 and whether the family lives in a Reach Erin Andersen at 473-7217 metropolitan, urban or rural or eandersen@journalstar.com.


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plans to be back in Decatur in three weeks with a crew of workers from his church in Somerset, Ky. They will help him with electrical and plumbing hookups and get the building operational. Betsy, maybe you can offer him a mealldeal for his crew, and Decatur Express may be in for a run on the pop cooler.

Speaking of a meal deal, the opening of the Lantern is getting closer. John Hightree says it is a day-by-day thing as construction By Alta Wolf winds down. Hopefully, we will ?'his week I want to pay spebe seeing out-of-town cars hovcial tribute to a group of hard. .{ i t . : :lji,'II ~ L I I I I \ ~ 0 1 1 1 ( ? i l \lrhO ering aiound the building soon and happy diners coming and i r l l I r r ! i c ~jobs. ye[ fi~ldthe tinle to going. answer our calls For help during Iic,iiltl!. a c ~ ~ i ~;tncl l c ~fire ~ rcrisis. I see Matt Conncal y has a new i a i l ! i~ivilcgcclto sit in on job. According to a local paper, thci~.n~cctings,and o n Wednes- Matt has been named to the post clay evening I was especially of Major Gift Developlnent p~.o~itl of this group of men and Director for the Center for Rural wor~ic~l as they discussed the Affairs. cc)il~in:~~lity LISC ot' the fire hall. Apparently the former Ne'I'11r:y piit the gc.)od of the com- braska legislator will help the milnit) or; lop of thcir priorities group focus on large donor and :rl:tl ;t;~li~~cllly re('uscc1 to let local endowment fund-raising. 111 the biiis p~t~ss~ir.c thcln i n t o a deci- article, he is credited for raising sion t11i.y could~l'tlivc with. $1.5 million dollars for the FI'hcy \:otcLi unnnimously to Decatur Seniors and Wellness crS!-:,~- tiic II;III lo all churches arid Center. ~tcv~lxol'itor-ganintions for a Construction of that building ,I:11::t: !;:c I if thry do their own will begin on May 16. 10:30 cle,ti!!:i:I . I'!-ivale partics ivill pay a.m., with a grounclbreakrng cer:i it^ C'or~g~.;~tulatio~ls, guys and emony. I haven't received any talc, for proi-i>oti~~g real commu- information on the program yet, nity spirit. but you will find it on the pages of the Plaindealer when I do. I Ti~~rotliy Van Hook. who will do know that following the ceresoon bc scrling up t l (iospel ~ mony, the existing senior center Missiori in the f'c>rmcr Ilccatur will join the Connealy family. school, spctlt I;isr week working and I imagine the Sears family, at rhc school prcjxiri~tgan apart- in offering a refreshment time rnc;nt for hi.; farnily. Van Hook for their guests to celebrate.

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