Texas-10 is growing, but some rural parts of the district face unique issues when it comes to encouraging growth. We must find ways to improve certain conditions in rural counties and to make staying in our rural counties attractive to young people. Broadband internet, accessible medical care, and redevelopment of aging infrastructure are key to both.
Broadband internet is crucial to business development and, increasingly, to community engagement. We must continue efforts to expand broadband internet access – there’s still a long way to go, especially in Waller and Washington counties.
Rural hospitals are closing in Texas at an alarming rate. Congress must maintain special rural hospital Medicare and Medicaid payment provisions and work to reverse the cuts to these programs inflicted over the past several years. Failure to do so will result in the closure of more rural hospitals and inflict harm on thousands of rural Texans, including in Texas-10. In 2015, the North Texas Regional Extension center published a Survey of Physician Workforce in Texas. Texas ranks 47th in the nation in active primary care physicians per 100,000 population. Thirty-five Texas counties have no physicians of any kind. Eighty Texas counties have five or fewer physicians (including Waller County). One hundred forty-seven Texas counties have no obstetrician/gynecologist. One hundred fifty-eight Texas counties have no general surgeon. One hundred eighty-five counties have no general psychiatrist. There were only 8 physicians in Austin County, 15 in Colorado, 19 in Fayette, 4 in Waller, 37 in Washington and 6 in Lee. We need programs, like student loan mitigation programs to provide incentives for physicians to serve in rural Texas.
Much of the limited infrastructure spending is being done in major metropolitan areas leaving Texas’s rural counties with some of the oldest, most dilapidated infrastructure. Additionally, the President’s proposed budget includes massive cuts to crucial rural revitalization programs. Upgrading water and power distribution systems as well as roads and bridges is an essential step in making our rural counties competitive.
We must also develop incentives for our young people to stay in our agricultural communities. Federal agriculture incentives focus too much on large mono-crop farms. We need to incentivize a new generation of farmers, on smaller farms, with new ideas about sustainable agriculture.