As reported in our Top 10 of 2013 story, this past year was highlighted by signficant developments at the federal level as well as in Crook County.

The advent of health insurance exchanges made national headlines while news of a new hospital and elementary school generated interest among local residents.

2013 was certainly a year of major changes, and with those changes came some challenges.

Health insurance exchange rollouts struggled nationwide as did Cover Oregon. Due to technical problems with its website, Oregon’s exchange failed to enroll anywhere near the number of people intended. Speedy electronic enrollment gave way to paper applications that demanded an increase in state resources.

Going forward, we hope that federal healthcare will be given a hard look. Given the current struggles facing exchanges and the penalties associated with not carrying health insurance, we believe federal lawmakers should rethink the coverage mandate.

Congress should be willing to make whatever changes are needed to ensure they meet the stated goal of providing health care to all citizens. If this means changing course and focusing more on premium costs, so be it.

Locally, we applaud community leaders for bringing a new school and hospital to town.

As the projects move forward, we ask that those spearheading the projects continue to keep public input involved in the process and keep an eye on important details so the facilities serve the community in the best way possible.

Perhaps, 2014 will be highlighted by major events the same way 2013 was. If it is, we hope that our leaders from the local to the federal level handle any challenges in ways that best benefit the people.

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