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Two little news stories, almost hidden away in the printed edition of our statewide newspaper, gathered few elected official's comments this past week. And both these two issues made even fewer headlines in the electronic media this week as Arkansas' biggest press storm came about an athletic team failing to make tackles and catch passes.

But that's to be normal in a state like Arkansas.

Alas this time, on one of these health issues, we can't really use that old "saw" of "Thank God for Mississippi."

However, in the world of perspiring arts (college athletics) -- it took back to back to back defeats by those from both major college squads in Mississippi, (Ole Miss and Miss State) both such peer institutions in Alabama (Crimson Tide and Auburn), a double-whammy of sorts from Kentucky (both the UK and a Western Kentucky squad), a thumping by those Texas Aggies of College Station and a surprise and unsuspected whuppin' by a team from of all places Division 2 in California (San Jose State) -- to open our eyes to do something about our embattled football coach.

But in our very own health care -- it seems -- no one is watching.

The Legislature has grown tired of talking health care -- because that debate grinds down to money, money, money and few if any real outcomes except counting noses on the rolls for free, government paid health care.

Now here comes the hard part of this news.

This past week, it was revealed by a report from the federal Centers for Disease Control, "Arkansas has fewer dentists per capita than any other state -- except Alaska."

So, thanks to better dental health care in the Magnolia State, Arkansas must now compare itself to Alaska, a virtual dental waste land to the far-frigid north.

There were, according to the report, only 41.7 active dentists for every 100,000 Arkansans, in 2017.

Alaska, sadly, had only 40.4 dentists per 100,000 of its citizens.

Politically it should be pointed out Arkansas has, based upon population about 3 million people -- or enough for four congressional districts.

Alaska sadly has only one Congressman.

Politically and medically, do you get the comparison?

What state held the most dentists? Washington, D.C., where there are 103.9 practicing dentists for every 100,000 citizens.

This is no surprise to me as most of the citizens in Washington, D.C., are employees of the federal government -- and thus have excellent dental care coverage.

Arkansas has no dental school -- another reason for the low number of dentists. But which comes first, we have to ask, the chicken or the egg? The dental school or the dentist from other schools enticed back to practice in Arkansas.

A conundrum if there ever was one.

Also in the negative news this past week... for the first time since 2010 -- the state has gone backwards on maternal and children's health as compiled by the March of Dimes.

Arkansas is going to receive a letter grade of "F."

Only three other states have higher rates of premature births than Arkansas.

A preterm birth of an underweight baby costs the state and its taxpayers $59,000 -- as an average. Often times the medical care of the infant is more -- much more and the death rate is rising.

Only the states of Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, West Virginia and the island republic of Puerto Rico, has the same "F" grade as Arkansas.

Yet five of these regional schools are in the Top 25 in college football this year.

Do those state's care about health care? Do you?

--MAYLON RICE IS A FORMER JOURNALIST WHO WORKED FOR SEVERAL NORTHWEST ARKANSAS PUBLICATIONS. HE CAN BE REACHED VIA EMAIL AT MAYLONTRICE@YAHOO.COM. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Editorial on 11/20/2019

Print Headline: Take Two Steps Forward, And One Step Back...

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