Kansas Common Sense

Announcing Cancer Screening Resources for Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas
I was in Pittsburg this week with the University of Kansas Cancer Center and the Masonic Cancer Alliance to announce $500,000 in funding for the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC-SEK). This grant was provided under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Accelerating Cancer Screening initiative and CHC-SEK is one of only 11 health centers to receive funding. This partnership will increase access to and affordability of cancer screenings in southeast Kansas. 

In order to apply for an Accelerating Cancer Screening grant, health centers are required to be affiliated with a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. The University of Kansas Cancer Center agreed to partner with CHC-SEK, allowing the facility to apply for the grant and now, as a grant recipient, carry out its objectives, utilize KU’s outreach specialists and receive assistance in care coordination from KU in CHC-SEK’s service area. This collaboration will also allow residents of southeast Kansas to participate in clinical trials with the University of Kansas Health System increasing diversity in this research to include rural areas.

Early detection coupled with access to quality care and treatment is critical for patients who are fighting cancer, and this partnership will play a significant role in benefitting residents throughout the region. Good things are happening in southeast Kansas that are worthy of recognition, and this project provides hope to those battling cancer. Thank you to Community Health Center CEO Krista Postai, as well as Dr. Roy Jensen and Dr. Gary Doolittle of the University of Kansas Cancer Center for their efforts in the fight against cancer and for joining me for this significant announcement for southeast Kansas. I also want to thank Krista for presenting me with the Distinguished Community Health Advocate Award, which was recently announced by the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Time to Unleash Kansas Energy

The Biden Administration’s decision this week to release another 15 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will have a minimal effect on lowering prices at the pump. Draining our emergency oil supply – already at its lowest level in four decades – is a short-sighted and dangerous choice that endangers our energy security at a critical time of global uncertainty. Unfortunately, this administration has made it clear that it would rather explore easing sanctions on oppressive governments in countries like Venezuela, than support American energy production here at home.

While Kansas is well-known for ag production, our state also powers the country through energy production. From wind turbines to oil wells and nuclear plants, Kansas harnesses both natural resources and innovation to produce numerous types of energy. I believe in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that utilizes domestic sources of oil, natural gas and coal; renewable energy sources like biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal and hydropower; and the use of nuclear energy.

Our nation has the ability to be energy independent again, and Kansas has a role to play in accomplishing that mission. Rather than relying on countries controlled by dictators to supply our energy, we can utilize all sources of production to supply our energy right here at home. It is time to unleash domestic energy production in order to lower prices, support American jobs and decrease our reliance on foreign adversaries for our energy.

You can read my full op-ed on this topic in The Marysville Advocate here.

Attending Colby Community College Agriculture Building Groundbreaking
On Friday, I joined Colby Community College President Dr. Seth Carter for the groundbreaking of the new Agriculture building on campus. The Ag building, equipped with an adjoining glass walkway to the Stanley Carr Agricultural Center to the east, is a 12,400-square-foot facility that will help accommodate increasing enrollment in the current area. This initiative is part of the school’s decision to expand ag-related educational opportunities. In addition to classrooms, the new building will include an agronomy lab and will be used for the Ag Business, Ag Econ, Animal Science, Beef Production, Equine Science and other ag-related specialized training programs.

I visited Colby Community College earlier this year for the announcement of this initiative and it is great to see this project becoming a reality. Agriculture is the primary industry in western Kansas, and this investment in agricultural training and education will help prepare students for careers in much-needed and high-demand jobs in the area. Our nation is facing an agricultural workforce shortage and this new building is an investment into the future of agriculture in Kansas. I want to thank Dr. Seth Carter, Colby Community College President, for hosting me and for his work to train the next generation.

Visiting Celltron, Inc. in Galena
I was in Galena this week to tour Celltron, Inc., a veteran-owned, small business that manufactures custom cable assemblies, wiring harnesses and electro-mechanical sub-assemblies for aerospace and commercial customers. Founded in 1983, Celltron is headquartered in Galena and employs approximately 300 people, with an additional site in Chatsworth, CA. During my tour, it was great to discuss the growth they are seeing in this company with the fifth expansion to their facility just this year. We also spoke about the work they do to service a variety of industries, including many companies in the defense sector. Thank you to Mike Kim, Vice President of Corporate Development, and Chuck Baughman, Vice President of Operations, for this tour. I also want to thank Cherokee County Commissioner Myra Carlisle-Frazier for joining us.

Touring Eagle Beverage in Frontenac

This week, I also toured Eagle Beverage in Frontenac. Eagle Beverage is a local, family-owned distributor that has been in operation since 2000 and currently has 26 employees. In an industry that is rapidly expanding in the Midwest, Eagle Beverage works with retailers and consumers in the area to distribute products. I want to thank Steve Beykirch, President and General Manager of Eagle Beverage, for hosting me on this tour and for sharing insight as a small business owner here in Kansas. I also appreciated the opportunity to hear from him about how he gives back to his local community and area businesses.

Protecting Kansans' Access to Care
After years of effort on behalf of the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA) and the state, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid gave final approval to modifications to Kansas’ provider assessment plan, the Health Care Access Improvement Plan (HCAIP). The modifications will protect Kansans’ access to care and make certain providers are more sufficiently reimbursed providing financial assistance to Kansas health care facilities at a time when the industry faces numerous challenges. The timely approval of the HCAIP waiver will allow Kansas and KanCare’s participating managed care organizations enough time to implement the changes before the end of the year. Kansas patients and providers are better off because of the unwavering work of KHA as they worked with CMS to ensure the waiver’s approval happened.

Making Certain Servicemembers Have Access to Earned Benefits
This week, I joined my Senate colleagues to request answers from the Defense Health Agency on pending changes to TRICARE’s pharmacy coverage. The Department of Defense recently announced that contract changes would come as soon as this week creating a more abrupt and difficult transition than originally expected. As a result of this policy change, nearly 15,000 retail pharmacies will no longer participate in TRICARE’s pharmacy network, a move that could impact nearly 400,000 beneficiaries across the nation. Express Scripts, which partners with TRICARE to provide coverage for servicemembers, has standards in place maintaining that at least 90% of its beneficiaries must have a pharmacy within a 15-minute drive from their homes, and TRICARE representatives have stated that, despite this 15,000 pharmacy reduction across its network, this standard of access to care will still be met.

Regardless, this abrupt change in TRICARE cost-sharing policies will inevitably impact many Kansans who rely on this access to medications and care for themselves and their families. This policy change has many unintended consequences, and TRICARE must provide answers as to how they will make certain that beneficiaries continue to have reasonable access to their earned prescription benefits. I remain committed to holding the Department of Defense to account regarding this critical issue which will impact many servicemembers and their families in Kansas and across the country.

Kansas Community Visits
Pratt Rotary Club
It was great to join members of the Pratt Rotary Club for their Thursday meeting to discuss the work they are doing in the local community. Our civic organizations play a significant role in serving Kansas communities and I appreciate the dedication of these members to giving back to others in the area. I especially enjoyed the chance to hear from Ryan Miller and Canon Lauffer, seniors at Skyline High School.

During this event, Mayor Zach Deeds also signed a proclamation declaring Monday, October 24 as World Polio Day in Pratt. This day is a way to recognize efforts to fight polio and to commend those who work tirelessly to eradicate this disease. Thank you to President Suzan Patton and all other members of the Pratt Rotary Club for hosting.

Photo by the Pratt Rotary Club

Trego Community High School
I enjoyed visiting with students and faculty at Trego Community High School during my tour on Tuesday. Thank you to Principal Shea Rothchild for hosting me and to all the faculty and staff for their work to invest in young Kansans.

Cunningham - West Kingman High School
I also want to thank the students, administration and faculty at Cunningham – West Kingman High School for giving me a tour this week. It is always great to visit with young Kansans and to hear what they are learning. Special thanks to Superintendent Robert Reed for hosting me.

It was great to be in Hays this week to speak with Kansans during my visits to Auto World, Werth Truck & Alignment, Master Cleaners, Salon 1007, Couture for Men, Jeter Law Firm, Blue Cross & Blue Shield and The Press restaurant. Thank you to everyone who took the time to share their input with me during my time in town.

During my time in Colby, I also stopped for lunch at J&B Meat Market, a local spot in town where I had the chance to visit with Becky who runs this great restaurant.

I also had the opportunity to visit with residents in Greensburg this week. I appreciate everyone who spoke with me during my stops at the U.S. Post Office, Kiowa County Hospital, Greensburg State Bank, City Hall, Centera Bank, USDA Service Center, BTI-John Deere and the Kiowa County Courthouse to visit the County Clerk, Register of Deeds and County Treasurer.

Black Squirrels on Parade in Marysville
It was great to be in Marysville this weekend with Mary Jean Eisenhower and others for the Black Squirrels on Parade community event. Thank you to Paula Landoll-Smith, Kerry Smith, Kerry's son Peyton and everyone else who joined.

Kansas in the Office

Capitol Tour
Alla Bjorgaard of Atchison

Cody Campfield of Great Bend

Kayley Campfield of Great Bend

Diana Grand of Atchison

Michael Hampton of Wichita

Richard Romey of Leawood

Deborah Romey of Leawood

Sam Scofield of Overland Park

Rhonda Scofield of Overland Park

Raymond Scott of Lenexa

Cheryl Scott of Lenexa

Chad Yeager of Topeka

Sarah Yeager of Topeka

Drake Yeager of Topeka

Ayla Yeager of Topeka

Gage Yeager of Topeka

Lacy Pitts of Moundridge

Tony Weldon of Wichita

Kansas Independent  College Association
Matt Lindsey of Topeka

Catholic Diocese of Wichita
Jamie Finkeldei of Wichita

American College of Cardiology
Beth Andrews of Overland Park

Raj Sabapathy of Overland Park

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