South Dakota's hard-working ranchers face setbacks in recent years

Ranchers play a vital role here in South Dakota. (KEVN)

WALL, S.D. (KEVN) - Local ranchers are struggling to afford the cost of healthcare. South Dakota Senator John Thune made a stop in Wall Tuesday to speak with community members about that topic and plenty of other important issues.

The state is known for its hard-working ranchers, and in recent years, they've faced several setbacks.

Right now, that setback is healthcare costs. It's a universal issue that continues to affect many. It's another economic roadblock for local ranchers.

"A lot of farmers and ranchers in South Dakota who buy their health insurance in the individual market place. Right now, if they're doing that, they're getting crushed with premiums, deductibles and out of pocket cost," says Senator John Thune.

Josh Geigle is a local rancher who says it's been tough for several years, especially with the price of health care. For him, medical care put a financial strain on his family.

"There were some sleepless nights where you're just like this isn't sustainable. I don't know how or what we can find to make it better," says Geigle.

Sen. Thune says one of the rancher's highest cost of doing business is health care.

"Whether it's co-pays or prescriptions, it hurts, and anything you can do to lower that has to be done," says Giegle.

The issue is complicated, but Thune says there are ways to fix the problem.

"Deal with the issue of prescription drugs, give people more options create more competition, more choices it would put downward pressure on the prices they pay for health care coverage," says Thune.

Thune looks forward to this fall when Congress will try and take steps to lower the cost of prescriptions.

"Easier not harder and to lower those impediments lower those barriers for young people today to enter into the world of agriculture. We need them. Farmers and ranchers are the backbones of the South Dakotas economy," says Thune.

The senator says he can't set a date on when this issue will be fully resolved, but Congress is taking steps to hopefully give ranchers a chance to buy the insurance they need and can afford.