Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.

Fourth Anniversary of Obamacare
Sunday was the fourth anniversary of Obamacare becoming law. While the President promised this law would lower health care costs and strengthen our health care system, the reality is it increasing health insurance premiums, slowing economic recovery, hindering job growth, and has caused millions of Americans to lose their preferred health care coverage. I continue to believe that the best path forward is to totally replace this flawed law.

When more than 5 million individuals learned last year that Obamacare actually caused their health plan to be canceled, the President announced he would allow some people to keep their soon-to-be canceled plans. However, this one-year canceled plan delay set the stage for another round of cancelation notices sent to Americans in Fall 2014, around the time of midterm congressional elections. So, earlier this month the President unilaterally extended this delay again, until after the 2016 elections. Despite these political “fixes,” millions of Americans will still be forced to buy an insurance plan mandated and approved by Obamacare, regardless of what they may want or prefer. The Administration’s calculated delays and unilateral changes are designed to mask Obamacare’s harmful effects and protect endangered political allies. These moves are not about serving Americans’ best interests – they are being done for political convenience. After four years, it is long past time to scrap Obamacare and pursue practical, common sense reforms that are workable and will actually reduce health care costs.

Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Caney, Sedan, El Dorado and Minneapolis
On Tuesday, I held Kansas Listening Tour stops in in Montgomery and Chautauqua Counties. According to the Montgomery County Chronicle, my town hall meeting in Caney was the first time in almost 50 years a U.S. Senator had visited their community. Thanks to the more than 20 area residents who came out for an interesting discussion on a variety of topics including health care, EPA regulation, agriculture and banking. Thanks to the City of Caney for hosting my visit.

In Sedan, I met with a dozen area residents and we discussed the budget deficit, tax reform, immigration and access to health care. The community showed me plans for the construction of a new library, which will include a storm/emergency shelter. Thanks to Chautauqua County Farm Bureau for hosting my stop.

My next listening tour stop was Wednesday morning in Butler County at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce. More than 50 area residents stopped by to share their thoughts on a broad range of issues affecting Kansans including veterans’ issues, health care, education, border security and infrastructure needs. Thanks to Susie Carson and the chamber for hosting the event.

My final Kansas Listening Tour stop of the week was in Ottawa County. It was good to see 25 area residents who came out to discuss a number of issues impacting their community including access to health care — specifically for veterans — transportation and infrastructure, as well as maintaining their local post office.

The issues I focus on and work I do in Washington, D.C., are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans during these town hall meetings. Thanks to all the folks who came out and shared a dose of Kansas common sense. Check my website for upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops.

South Central Kansas Medical Center
I traveled to Cowley County Tuesday to tour South Central Kansas Medical Center (SCKMC) in Arkansas City. SCKMC, a 37-bed acute care hospital has been serving residents of Cowley County and the surrounding area since 1905. Just a few years ago, SCKMC opened a new facility, replacing the hospital’s aged infrastructure with a modern facility that significantly improves SCKMC’s ability to deliver quality health care to patients. As Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over most agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that impact hospitals and health care providers, meeting with Kansas hospital administrators and other providers gives me insight on the unique challenges they face caring for patients.

During my visit, we discussed concerns with federal regulations that fail take into account the realities of providing care in rural communities. Examples include flawed and onerous Medicare audit regulations, and unreasonable physician supervision rules specifically with outpatient therapeutic services, which include drug infusions, blood transfusions, wound debridement and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services. These unrealistic and overly burdensome federal regulations jeopardize Kansans’ access to important health care services. The ability of our health care providers to meet the needs of patients is greatly affected by decisions in Washington, D.C. I will continue to make certain I understand the real consequences of these decisions through conversations with Kansas health care providers. Thanks to SCKMC CEO Steve Perkins for hosting my visit.

Manhattan Rotary Club
This week, I joined the Manhattan Rotary Club for their weekly meeting. It was great to visit with Rotarians and guests during lunch and I gave remarks on the importance of health care, technology, and the value of strong Kansas communities. I’m grateful to everyone who attended and will keep their feedback in mind as I return to Washington this week. Thanks to Club Vice President Scott Emley and Manhattan Chamber President/CEO and Rotarian Lyle Butler for the warm welcome, and thanks to Manhattan Rotary Club for their continued commitment to Manhattan and the goodwill of others.

Working to Defeat Alzheimer’s Disease
This week, I had the opportunity to visit with leadership of the Alzheimer’s Association including President and CEO Harry Johns of Chicago and Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Robert Egge, as well as National Board Members about the urgent need to address Alzheimer’s disease and a national commitment to medical research. Alzheimer's disease affects more than 5 million Americans. Experts predict that with the aging of the U.S. population, the number of Alzheimer's cases may triple by the year 2050. The health and financial future of our nation are at stake and the United States cannot afford to ignore such a threat. A sustained federal commitment to research for Alzheimer's disease will lower costs and improve health outcomes for people living with the disease today and in the future. As Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the National Institutes of Health, the focal point for our nation's medical research infrastructure, I am committed to prioritizing funding for Alzheimer's research to bring hope to future generations of Americans. Thanks to the Alzheimer’s Association for their partnership in the effort to defeat Alzheimer’s disease.

Kansas City Startup Economy Receives International Attention
At South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive – a conference for startup companies and tech enthusiasts held in Austin, Texas, last week – there was ongoing chatter about Kansas City’s reputation as a growing tech hub and hotbed for startup companies. Since then, the buzz has been echoing on both sides of the Atlantic.

The rest of the world is now learning what we’ve known for some time: KC is a great place for entrepreneurship and innovation. Kansas City’s economy benefits from the innovations of our region’s fast-growing startups and a willingness among long-standing area companies to invest in the community. Companies like Sprint, Cerner and Hallmark, as well as Kansas City’s own Kauffman Foundation and a number of individual community leaders, recognize that innovation is the key to economic growth. Their efforts have helped Kansas City leverage its local resources to become America’s most entrepreneurial city. Click here to learn more.

Smoky Hills Public Television Q&A
Friday night I hosted a 60-minute, live question-and-answer forum on Smoky Hills Public Television, which was moderated by Fort Hays State University’s Chapman Rackaway and Hays Daily News’ Patrick Lowry. Thanks to the Kansans who called in, asked questions, and shared feedback with me on the critical issues facing Kansas and the nation.

World Down Syndrome Day
Friday was World Down Syndrome Day – a day to raise world-wide awareness of Down syndrome, to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how individuals with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities. As a U.S. Senator, one of my highest priorities is to enhance the independence of all  individuals so that they can live, learn, work and pursue the American Dream. I am a sponsor of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, legislation that would establish tax-exempt “ABLE” accounts to assist an individual with a disability in building an account to pay for qualified disability expenses. ABLE Accounts would be structured similar to the 529 tax-advantaged savings program that allows families to save for college education. These accounts would allow individuals with disabilities or the parents of a child with a disability to save money to cover long-term expenses such as education, housing, transportation, and employment support. The ABLE Act currently has 66 cosponsors in the Senate, and I urge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote. 

Additionally, medical research holds great potential for improving the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. During a Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee hearing last month, I asked Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about the connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease – about half of all people with Down syndrome will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease.  NIH is exploring this connection with the hope that it will lead us to a better understanding of both conditions, potentially benefitting those with Down syndrome as well as those with Alzheimer’s disease. Please click here to view my discussion with Dr. Collins.

Kansans in the Office
Ruby Brower of Manhattan
Sharmilla Hall of Elkhart
Trenton Kennedy of Frankfort
Josh Huyett of Kansas City
Laura Huyett of Kansas City
Hannah Huyett of Kansas City
Wyatt Huyett of Kansas City

Cerner Corporation
Lindsay Vogtsberger of Kansas City
Meg Marshall of Kansas City
Amanda Adams of Kansas City 

Kansas State Council of Fire Fighters
Matt Jackson of Junction City
Chris Booth of Junction City
Bob Winter of Kansas City 

Fort Leavenworth Schools — USD 207
Superintendent Keith Mispagel of Ft. Leavenworth 

National Association of Postmasters
Rex Poole of St. Marys
Dennis Gardner of Atchison
Stephen D. Jeffrey of Erie 

Geary County Schools — USD 475
Superintendent Ronald Walker of Junction City
Janet Cristian of Junction City 

Kansas Society of Radiologic Technologists
Marie Caldwell of Desoto

American Health Information Management Association
Julie Hatesohl of Manhattan
Ann Nowlin of Salina 

PEAK Leadership Summit
Angela Dailey of Topeka
KJ Langlais of Olathe
Dana Weaver of Topeka
Jean Bryant of Cimarron
Amy Hoch-Altwegg of Abilene 

Society for Human Resource Management
Mary McPheeters of Wichita
Lenora Redenbaugh of Leawood 

Close Up Foundation
Alejandra Hernandez-Castro of Lawrence
Graciela Becerra of Olathe
Katie Chenia of Deerfield
Eric Valenzuela of Liberal
Oscar De Leon of Arkansas City
Pablo Garcia of Lakin
Inn Dopheide of Leavenworth
Kristen Song of Leavenworth
Misti Stevens of Leavenworth 

Foreign Exchange Students
Glena Nicoleta Mow of Wichita
Marko Vignjevio of Sylvan Grove 

American Society of Civil Engineers
Aaron Frits of Lawrence
Ernesto Longoria of Prairie Village
Jennifer Jacka-Taylor of Overland Park 

Midwest Assistance Program (MAP)
Gary L Smith of Topeka 

American Psychological Association
Monica Kurylo of Lenexa
Mary Cain of Manhattan 

Fight Colorectal Cancer
Dan Dixon of Olathe 

Kansas Christian Church Youth Group
Steve Martin of Topeka
Katie Urban of Wellington
Susan Webb of Sedan
Julia Peck of Wellington
John Ray of Parsons
Sam Devofe of Lyons
Bridgett Kelly of Effingham
Micah Bain of Parsons
Abi Farley of Wellington
Ben Brewer of Parsons
Olivia Vega of Wellington
Bailey Ethridge of Chanute
Betsy Farley of Wellington
Nic Augustin of Wichita
Beth Peck of Wellington 

American Institute of Architects
Maresa Kemper of Topeka
Tim Clark of Manhattan
Daniel Crouch of Manhattan
Mark Fairbanks of Topeka 

US Canola Association
John Haas of Larned
Tyson Good of Montezuma
Mike Stamm of Manhattan 

Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
Connie Hobbell of Topeka 

Capitol Tour
Stephen Hendrickson of Hanover
Brenda Hendrickson of Hanover
Aaron Hendrickson of Hanover
Nicole Hendrickson of Hanover
Emily Hendrickson of Hanover
Harold Schwartz of Hanover
Mary Schwartz of Hanover
Brad Durham of Leawood
Laura Durham of Leawood
Connor Durham of Leawood
Rachel Durham of Leawood
Mark Dreitzler of Overland Park
Lindsay Dreitzler of Overland Park
Megan Dreitzler of Overland Park
Leah Dreitzler of Overland Park
John Haas of Larned
Carolyn Haas of Larned
Krista Haas of Larned
Kathryn Haas of Larned
Abigail Haas of Larned
Mary Sweet of Greensburg
John Colclazier of Greensburg
Steve O'Neal of Overland Park  
Lori O'Neal of Overland Park
Kaitlyn O'Neal of Overland Park
Sarah O'Neal of Overland Park
Mulugeta Fissha of Andover
Semhal Abbay of Andover
Aman Abbay of Andover
Matan Abbay of Andover
Micaela Foster of Lawrence
Phillip Zuspan of Leawood
Sheryl Young of Leawood
Sarah Zuspan of Leawood
Jennifer Zuspan of Leawood
John Moore of Prairie Village
Amy Moore of Prairie Village
Wilson Moore of Prairie Village
Brooks Moore of Prairie Village
Anna Jane Moore of Prairie Village
David Pierce of Wichita
Lois Pierce of Wichita
Brianne Pierce of Wichita
Drew Pierce of Wichita
Olivia Pierce of Wichita
Noah Pierce of Wichita
Jared Pierce of Wichita
Andrew Muller of Overland Park
Melinda Muller of Overland Park
Jaren Muller of Overland Park
Annabelle Muller of Overland Park
Elias Muller of Overland Park

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

Very truly yours,



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