Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Health: October 2009

COLBY, Kan. - Lucy Belnora, KFP journalist, offered a well-researched analysis of the House bill, H.R. 3961, that was unveiled and posted on the Internet today.

The new House bill is likely to be viewed more favorably by more voters than the Senate bills because of its inclusion of an all-states (not opt-out) public option plan.

That prediction is largely based on national polls that indicate the majority of Americans are in favor of a national public option health care plan.

Already, advocacy groups on the right and left are reacting to the bill.

SALINA, Kan. - Allow me to share this exciting news with you - today, the U.S. House has unveiled its plan. This bill will reform our broken health insurance system and includes a strong public option. But first, I'd like to begin by reviewing what's happened in Washington the last few weeks.

The History

All eyes had been on the U.S. Senate as its two health care reform bills emerged from committee. Those who favor public option haven't expected much to come from the Senate in the way of real reform in the way that health care is financed or in its costs.

Senator Baucus (D) heralded the first of the two Senate bills - the one without the option of a public plan. Although Baucus worked hard to tailor his bill in such a way that Olympia Snowe (R) could vote in favor of it, that first senate bill encountered noticeable and expected backlash from other Democratic senators and from the grassroots because of the lack of public option (examples here, here and here).

Strangely, the powerful insurance lobbies that had backed the bill from the start, ended up coming out against it, too. Why?

HAYS, Kan. - The month of October is the "National Domestic Violence Awareness Month." President Obama's proclamation expressed its importance, "A family's home becomes a place of fear, hopelessness, and desperation when a woman is battered by her partner, a child witnesses the abuse of a loved one, or a senior is victimized by family members. ... During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. ... we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation's victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis."

Here in Kansas, Jana's Campaign is dedicating its efforts to doing exactly what the president has called for. Its goal is to move the issues of domestic violence to the top of the political agenda in Topeka in this next legislative session. The organization is advocating for more comprehensive legislation in Kansas that will enhance victims' services, prevention and treatment programs, while providing real accountability for offenders.

27,000 Newly Uninsured Kansans

WICHITA, Kan. - According to a report released on Tuesday by Families USA, a national nonprofit focusing on the achievement of high quality health care for all Americans, 27,000 Kansans lost their health insurance in 2009.

According to the Families USA press release...

Approximately 27,000 people in Kansas lost health insurance coverage in 2009 due to a rise in unemployment, according to a report issued today by the health consumer organization Families USA. According to the report, the state's average unemployment rate in 2008 was 4.4 percent, while the average rate this year was 6.6 percent, thereby resulting in losses of health coverage.

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Today is a day that students all across the Nation will come together for one common goal which is to work for health care reform and call our representatives about it.

Students for Health Care Reform: KSU (Time to Deliver: Students)

Come join us on October, 20th as we organize for health insurance reform! As students we are being called upon to help pass real health care reform THIS YEAR! Gather with other KSU students as we talk with other students asking them to commit to call our members of congress and let them know we want health reform now! NO experience is necessary and training will be provided. We can't wait to see you on October 20th as we work to realize the change we voted for. Yes We Can!

Today at Kansas State University we will be just outside of the Union in Bosco plaza with a table, so stop by between your classes or on your way across campus!

TOPEKA, Kan. - In one of her last acts before heading to Washington, DC, former Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an Executive Order establishing the Kansas Coalition for Children in Nature (KCCN). The KCCN will work to promote outdoor learning experiences and environmental education for young people, and will identify barriers and suggest solutions to getting kids outside. And you're invited to take part.

Don't Get Raped in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. - My eyes are being opened to the problem of sexual assault in Kansas. The more information that I seek, the more alarmed and outraged I become. The fact that one rape occurs every seven hours in Kansas is a fact that I find unacceptable. The fact that the ordeal of many victims is often intensified by current post assault procedures currently practiced by hospitals throughout the state... well, that is a fact that I find inhuman.

A recent sexual assault on the campus of Wichita State University is what began my education in this area. Initially, it was the "tips" for lowering the risk of rape that prompted me to contact WSU campus police. The "tips" that obviously indicate that women should shoulder the responsibility to protect themselves from potential attackers, rather than counseling drunk frat boys on how NOT TO RAPE WOMEN. Well, every journey must have a starting point and that was mine.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Health care reform in the U.S. is difficult because we have assembled the most complicated, convoluted, inefficient, un-systemic health care "non-system" of the industrialized nations.

The two biggest cost drivers are the American lifestyle of too much food and not enough exercise, and, the payer "system." Changing these two factors are "extremely difficult" and "difficult."

Health care reform in the U.S. is difficult because the elected officials who are to change or reform the non-system seldom get the opportunity to truly learn and understand the vagaries of Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, the Veterans Admin health system, ERISA, federal regulations, state regulations, and more.

TREECE, Kan. - Reading about the problems of the residents of Treece, Kansas, takes me back to a day when Carol, my office mate, told me about her bus trip from Wichita through Missouri, a trip that took her through my home town of Baxter Springs, Kansas, a Southeast Kansas town five miles or so from both the Missouri and Oklahoma border.

As Carol talked about the sights she saw on the trip, she asked about some hills she'd seen near Baxter Springs. "Are those the foothills of the Ozarks?"

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - I love Business Week magazine. I read it dutifully every week, and have done so for years. It has, in my estimation, the best balance of Capitalism and Corporate Responsibility. Unlike so many other business mags, BW has always looked at all sides of issues, not just the side that will generate the most money.

In the October 12 issue, an article entitled "Why Business Fears the Public Option,"the magazine lays out a few points about the issue of "Cost Shifting," one of the attacks that the insurance industry has mounted.

HAYS, Kan. - My first chance to see Kansas Corps in action was in Chapman last April, when more than 50 students from six colleges across the state of Kansas pitched in to provide tornado disaster relief. These students performed a wide-range of services; from removing metal from a creek bed to insulating, framing and dry-walling a home.

The Chapman project was the second pilot project of Kansas Corps. Its first project took place in Melvern in 2008, and saw students from across the state create a hiking and biking trail for that city. Working with the local "Friends of the Trail" committee and their partners, Westar Electric's Green Team, the Kansas Trails Council and the PRIDE organization, these students helped a small community convert a landfill into a health and fitness trail.

Now the real work begins...

TOPEKA, Kan. - Last week, Sarah Tidwell, BSN, MS, RN, the legislative chairperson for the Kansas State Nurses Association met with Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Lynn Jenkins while in Washington, DC to share with them what nurses in Kansas want to see contained in health care reform legislation. The following is a summary of what Mrs. Tidwell shared with them while she was in DC and is the body of written correspondence sent to Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Todd Tiahrt and Rep. Dennis Moore on behalf of Kansas nurses and the patients we care for.

The Kansas State Nurses Association supports a health care system that is patient-centered, comprehensive, accessible, and delivers quality care for all. To achieve this, we must have a workforce policy that fully recognizes the vital role of nurses and other health care providers. Healthcare reform should include the following points...

WASHINGTON - Number crunchers are having a political heyday over health-care reform. Yet, one in particular, is having a field day in shaping the debate. A consulting firm known as the Lewin Group, aka United Health, whose research is making the rounds by opponents of the hotly debated public insurance option.

Respectively stated, by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, Lewin Group is an "independent research firm." Rep. Eric Cantor of Va., House Republican whip, says it is "the nonpartisan Lewin Group."

Also, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the key Finance Committee, refers to Lewin Group as "well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country."

What these prominent members of the Republican Party fail to mention is that the Lewin Group is owned entirely by United Health Group, one of this countries mega health insurance providers.

Letter to Jerry Moran

Throughout the health care debate, I have stressed that more Americans will gain access ... once costs are controlled and reduced. I continue to advocate for... medical liability reform, an increased emphasis on wellness and disease prevention, providing tax incentives to low-income families to retain or purchase private health insurance, implementation of health information technology, and training more medical professionals and encouraging them to practice in underserved areas. I also support finding responsible ways to address the problems caused by pre-existing conditions and to increase the size of the pool of insured. - U.S. Representative Jerry Moran (R-Kansas)
Dear Representative Moran:

In your special edition of "This Week in Congress" you listed several ways that you believe will fix health care.

TOPEKA, Kan. - The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently received a grant of $576,000 from the Centers for Disease Control to work toward eliminating infections patients receive while being cared for in our hospitals and other facilities such as doctors' offices and nursing homes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allotted a total of $40 Million to help states combat this growing problem.

This grant is particularly valuable as many infections acquired in this manner are increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotic therapy. Examples of these pathogens are vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficlile (C-diff). These problematic infections can occur while patients have long-term indwelling urinary catheters, and may also affect surgical incisions post-operatively. These super bugs are particularly dangerous when the infection advances and enters the blood stream, potentially causing septic shock and death if prompt, aggressive action isn't taken. Appropriate isolation practices regarding infected patients and scrupulous hand hygiene are key in mitigating risks in health care settings.

GREENSBURG, Kan. - In May of 2007, Greensburg was struck with tragedy. A colossal tornado ripped through the town of 900, killing 11 people and destroying 95 percent of the community.

Left with nothing, the town made the decision to rebuild as the "greenest town in rural America." But now, as reported in the New York Times, Greensburg's efforts are setting them apart as one of the most environmentally-advanced towns in the country.

Mike Estes owns a John Deere dealership in Greensburg that has received the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification, the highest level possible and a goal that has yet to reached by some of the country's biggest cities. Greensburg is also home to a LEED platinum certified arts center and six other buildings anticipate to reach this level.

TOPEKA, Kan. - Nurses in Kansas and across the nation have joined President Obama in pushing for health insurance reform. One of the longstanding purposes of the Kansas State Nurses Association is working for the "improvement of health standards and the availability of health care services for all people." One of the chief roles a nurse has is to be a staunch patient advocate, so it's no surprise we stand boldly for reform.

Recently, I had a discussion with a colleague who practices in the Kansas City, KS area about the current health insurance reform debate and our first-hand observations as nurses. She underscored the need for urgent reform from not only a practical perspective, but also touched on the political ramifications that command we take action now: "We see the reality of the need for health care insurance reform everyday in the lack of suitable coverage for our patients, decisions on how our long our patients can be hospitalized, in how carefully we must nurse our documentation to qualify for reimbursement, the cost of our own health care policies, and the unsustainable costs to the state and federal government. For those who insist on obstructive negativity in even talking about how to deal with the health care insurance problem, beware, the likelihood of approaching this problem again in the future will be low with such a high political cost being evident," she said.

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