Will Trump and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin reinstate Obamacare to help people in the Bluegrass State fight cancer?
In 2016, Matt Bevin repealed the Kynect healthcare system in the state of Kentucky and replaced it with HealthCare.gov, and now Trump plans to repeal HealthCare.gov nationwide with the help of Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
Now, a new report from Associated Press confirms that, despite a 20 percent decline in cancer deaths from 1980 to 2014 nationwide, Eastern Kentucky has some of the highest rates of cancer and cancer deaths in America.
In fact, these Eastern Kentucky counties saw an increase of cancer deaths that rose by a whopping 45 percent.
The most mentioned Kentucky county in the report was Owsley County, and they were noted for having the highest rates of certain types of cancer such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer; colon and rectum cancer; pancreatic cancer; and prostate cancer.
Sadly, Booneville, the county seat of Owsley County, is one of the poorest of Kentucky’s 120 counties, and Kentucky is one of the poorest states in America. It was also quoted in a 2017 January report in JAMA as having the largest increase in cancer rates nationwide from 1980 to 2014.
Although Eastern Kentucky heavily voted for Matt Bevin, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump, all of these government leaders have repealed Affordable Healthcare Act AKA Obamacare measures that would help them fight or prevent cancer.
For example, Paul Ryan recently heard from a former Republican and cancer patient at a CNN Town Hall Meeting that said, despite having money to pay the bills, they could not get treatment for cancer without an insurance card — and Obamacare provided that through the Healthcare.gov website.
The research that places Kentucky at the top of the cancer deaths list was published on January 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and is titled “Trends and Patterns of Disparities in Cancer Mortality Among US Counties, 1980-2014.” The research is authored by Ali H. Mokdad, PhD; Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, MPH; and Christina Fitzmaurice, MD, MPH.
Among the findings of researchers was that, of the counties with the highest cancer deaths in 2014, six were in Eastern Kentucky. Furthermore, the five counties with the highest lung cancer deaths were in four Eastern Kentucky counties.
Worse, the rates of cancer in Eastern Kentucky in 2014 were 80 percent higher than in 1980.
While the researchers claimed that “smoking, obesity, physical activity and income explain many of the disparities,” there were no comments made about whether this was related to Black Lung Disease or other the toxic effects of the coal-mining industries that were once prevalent in the area.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “on June 9, 2016, a radiologist contacted NIOSH to report a sharp increase during the past 2 years in the number of PMG [progressive massive fibrosis] cases among patients who were coal miners seen at his practice serving the easternmost counties of Kentucky.”
Insurance Journal clarifies on this report and stated there were “31 cases identified nationwide from 1990-1999,” and yet, in 2015, 60 cases were reported by a single radiologist in a single year. All 60 diagnoses were current or former miners currently living in Eastern Kentucky.
Most of these cancer patients with Black Lung Disease/PMG are from a cluster of Eastern Kentucky counties that are near Owsley County such as Pike, Floyd, Letcher, and Knott.
The researchers also did not indicate if the rise in cancer by 80 percent in Eastern Kentucky was related to environmental issues such as mountaintop removal practices to extract coal.
This process of filling valleys with waste material from strip or surface mining is called valley fills or holler fills, and has only been in practice since around 1985 in Kentucky.
For example, Daily Independent notes that Owsley County only ceased coal mining in 2013. The same article also quoted research from the University of Kentucky and University of West Virginia that shows Owsley County and Appalachia has a higher rate of birth defects as well as cancer deaths.
In another example of reasons that Owsley County could have an increase in cancer rates, according to Kentucky watchdog group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), Booneville is subject to “valley fills” by coal extractors doing mountaintop removal.
In 2009, KFTC reported that “more than 1,400 miles of Kentucky streams already are directly impacted from valley fills.” In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did in fact find that valley fills from mountaintop removal was deleterious to aquatic life, like the kind done in Owsley County where cancer rates are highest, but the studies were not conducted on humans.
Ben Chandler, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, stated to Associated Press that they were concerned about cancer patients being able to fight and use preventative medicine to detect cancer without healthcare.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, in addition to repealing the Kynect healthcare system the minute he got into office in 2016 — without having an immediate replacement until almost a year later — Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin also fired the Environmental Quality Commission director, Arnita Gadson.
Like Matt Bevin, the first thing Donald Trump did when he got into office was start supporting Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s idea to repeal Obamacare as soon as possible.
Also like Connecticut-born Matt Bevin, New Yorker Donald Trump came into office and immediately started interfering with the environmental agencies that protect Americans against cancer-causing toxins.
On January 24, Donald Trump “instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch,” according to Associated Press.
Despite the obvious need for coal companies and officials like Trump, Bevin, or McConnell to make good on the increase in cancer rates in Eastern Kentucky, many locals do not trust the coal companies to keep the area safe.
For example, in November 2014, Fortune interviewed Eric Mathis about his experiences with Don Blankenship and Massey Energy in West Virginia, and stated the following about the toxicity of valley fills in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.
“They started dumping slurry into underground mines, pulling out the particulates and putting them in there. It was just a toxic soup that they dumped into the drinking water in Mingo County. They’d warned Blankenship it was happening and he didn’t give a ****. At the same time he built a pipeline to his house, knowing all his neighbors were drinking poison, to ensure that he had clean water. That’s who he is.”
Despite the environmental and health damage done by the coal industry that may or may not be increasing cancer rates to the highest in America, Senator Mitch McConnell railed against Obama for eight years because Obama had a “War on Coal.”
Nevertheless, according to a 2016 report from the Lexington Herald Leader, “Most of the inexpensive-to-reach coal in Eastern Kentucky has already been mined.”
In 2015, NY Times stated that Mitch McConnell’s War on Coal accusation is largely a fantasy that he alone has devised. They quoted McConnell at the time stating the following about Obama’s clean energy plans and it’s objections to coal.
“The E.P.A. is bypassing Congress and the American people by unilaterally proposing these crippling regulations that would wreak havoc on our economy and are clearly unprecedented. I have used and will continue to use all of the tools available to protect families and jobs, whether that be in Congress, or outside of the legislative process.”
An Obama White House spokesperson, Frank Benenati, stated the following about McConnell’s allegations that Obama had a war on coal.
“Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges that we face, and instead of offering solutions, Senator McConnell’s alternative is an inappropriate and unfounded attempt to dictate state decisions.”
When Mitch McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, was the Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, one of her biggest moves was to help deregulate the coal industry.
[Featured Image by the American Cancer Society/Getty Images]