By Portia Williams
Congressman Bill Johnson of Ohio’s Sixth District made a visit to Southern Ohio Medical Center on Wednesday. Johnson said he has anticipated the visit to SOMC for quite some time, and was impressed by the facility and services provided.
“We’ve been excited about coming to visit the Southern Ohio Medical Center for some time. The have a lot of excellent, and innovative achievements here. Their nursing program has been recognized as a magnet, and they are doing some tremendous work. I visited their ICU and their Cardiac/Intensive Care Unit, and they have every reason to be proud,” Johnson said.
He said SOMC is greatly is an important part of the community.
“This medical facility is in the heart of Appalachia Ohio, providing a service to a community that desperately needs it. They are an active participate in the 340 B program that helps them provide services to some that maybe could not pay for it otherwise. There are a lot of good things going on here,” he said.
As it relates to the Affordable Care Act, and continued problems related to health care, he said he is confident that he can make a positive difference.
“I have been one of the advocates, and continue to advocate for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, because I just don’t think it is working. Every medical facility, whether its this one or any other is struggling today under the mandates of the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “On one hand here in Ohio we’ve got Medicaid expansion, but what is happening is that on the other side of the coin you’ve got the mandates for employers to provide insurance for their employees and oftentimes the co-pay that is required of the employee is so much that they can’t afford to pay it, and you wind up with a lot of bad debt being created on the hospital and that is a burden on the hospital. So, hospitals are struggling to make ends meet.”
He said he can relate with health care concerns through his own family experiences.
“I don’t know of anyone that woke up this morning and said, I think I will go and have a heart attack for lunch today, or I think I’ll go somewhere and get cancer. Nobody chooses to get those conditions. I have a brother who has had cancer, I’ve got a mother who is a cancer survivor, and I know the struggles that they’ve had, trying to get insurance companies to cover them. We’ve got to be able to health care decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors, and take it out of the hands of un-elected bureaucrats that know little to nothing about the real needs and concerns of patients,” he said.
He said understanding the problem is the precursor to problem-solving.
“To solve problems, you have to understand the problem, and to understand the problem you have to listen to the people that are experience the problem. I am not a physician, I’m not a health care provider, nor hospital administrator. I am just the voice of the people that elected me to be their representative. So, for me to understand what a facility like the Southern Ohio Medical Center is going through, I need to talk to the people that are living it, and working in it every single day. So I am leaving here with more information that will help me from a visit like this,” he said.
Johnson’s visit to Southern Ohio also included meeting with other local community members.
“I had breakfast this morning at a local restaurant with constituents, giving them a chance to talk individually about what their issues are,” he said.
Johnson said he considered his visit to SOMC as enlightening and very productive.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-370-0712 or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.