"It's not just that they can't afford any sort of insurance that might be available to them under the Affordable Care Act. It's that this is a horribly underserved region in terms of medical resources." - Henry Schuster, 60 Minutes producer (at 3:17)
Organizers of an expeditionary Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic just outside of Jonesville, Virginia expect something on the order of 600 patients today and tomorrow. This is the first of this kind of event in Lee County, set up in and around the airport that sits further west than Columbus, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, far removed from Richmond. Sadly, this constitutes primary care for many residents. When I arrived yesterday as a volunteer, 22 hours before the first patient would be seen, there were already three carloads of people lined up to ensure they could get one of the specialty services. They know the routine.
Somehow Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) avoids discerning scrutiny from his constituency. Even with all that tobacco money he is bringing home, many of those living in Virginia's poorest county rely upon the generosity of others for any health care at all. The county's only hospital closed about a year ago.
On September 30, 2013, the Lee Regional Medical Center closed its doors after serving the community for 70 years. With the loss of jobs and decreased access to medical care, the residents of Lee County have been deeply impacted by the hospital's closure. - Lee County Hospital Authority
I'm not talking about "NoVa" versus the Old Dominion, but something much older that suburban Washington: the massive schism between the state's Tidewater and Greater Appalachian sections, one that has created tensions since the days of the House of Burgesses and, certainly, the secession of West Virginia.Is there a deeper East vs. West divide within the Old Dominion, beyond the idea of an urban crescent vs. rural Virginia fight?
Let's find out.
Calling the uncertain future of Central Appalachian coal mining the "elephant in the room," industry consultant Alan Stagg said he expects mining in the high-cost region to cease in the next 10 to 20 years. Speaking at Platts Coal Marketing Days on Sept. 21, Stagg said producers in Central Appalachia need to accept that difficult physical mining conditions, combined with inescapable regulatory restrictions, will soon erase profitability.Blaming treehuggers is way easier than admitting to your investors, consumers & policy-makers that you picked all the low-hanging fruit decades ago & every remaining ton of coal (or barrel of oil) will be increasingly expensive to extract.
"This is the elephant in the room. No one wants to acknowledge that reserve depletion is profound," said Stagg, president and CEO of Stagg Resource Consultants Inc. "Mining conditions are difficult, and the cost to produce is high. That is a physical fact. It's not pleasant. Nobody wants to acknowledge it. That is a fact, and companies that ignore that fact will not do so well." [...]
"Are recent regulatory pressures a straw man in addressing problems facing the coal industry?" he asked. "Even if U.S. coal companies got all of their permits, what would they do with them? You cannot sell that coal at $40, $45 or even $50 per ton."
Meanwhile Reuters reports, "Asian economies, hungry for coal, stand to gain from a U.S. program meant to keep domestic power cheap and abundant." How much is at stake? "One analyst concludes that the federal government missed out on nearly $30 billion in revenue over the last three decades through poor management of the coal lease program." Talk about picking winners & losers! How much better off would we be right now if the government had let the free market decide our power sources & just cut $30 billion in checks directly to help Americans pay their power bills? Eliminating coal subsidies now would be a small step towards making things right - but right now, it sounds like coal companies need all the government welfare they can get.