Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.
Other ways we can stay connected – and you can make sure your voice is heard – are through my Facebook Page and Twitter Profile. On Facebook and Twitter, I share my thoughts on bills and current events. I also use social media as a way to get timely feedback from you. What I hear from Kansans helps guide my work in Washington. You can follow me on Facebook by clicking here and you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here. Please note that if you have a casework request, or would like to receive a response to your concerns, please continue to e-mail me directly through my website by clicking here.
- Easter Visit to Afghanistan Provides Opportunity to Thank Kansas Service Members\
- Achieving Energy Security
- Introducing Legislation to Preserve Rural Health Care Access
- Honoring President Eisenhower’s Legacy
- Upcoming Listening Tour Stops
- “Coffee with Kansans”
- In the Office
I traveled to Afghanistan this week with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and three other members of the U.S. Senate to visit with Kansas service members and meet with U.S. military and Afghanistan government leaders. After a briefing with U.S. Army General David Petraeus, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan; U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry; and other top government and military leaders, I visited the Kabul Military Training Center (KMTC) outside the capital, where I met with U.S. soldiers, including Kansans. I also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzi to discuss the timeline for drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops. This was my third trip to Afghanistan since our military began fighting the Taliban there in 2001 and the reports I heard from Kansans and our military commanders is that the situation continues to improve, though it is clear to me progress is very, very difficult to achieve. There is a clear understanding by Afghan leaders that American forces will be significantly reduced by 2014 and American leadership is working to have the best security and economic conditions by that time.
While in Afghanistan, I also received an update on the work of the about 60 Kansas Army and Air National Guard members serving on an Agribusiness Development Team in Lagham Province who are helping farmers in Afghanistan increase agricultural production. I am thankful for the sacrifice and hard work of these Kansans serving abroad and all members of our Armed Forces. Their service is helping build a better life for Afghanis and protecting the United States. It was an honor to spend time with Americans serving our country, especially during this Easter season. I left Afghanistan with great respect for their sacrifice and commitment. Click here to view photos of my visit to Afghanistan.
Rising gas prices and recent events in the Middle East have demonstrated once again the importance of having access to an ample domestic energy supply which is both affordable and reliable. Higher fuel prices increase operating costs for Kansas businesses and are particularly challenging for those living in rural Kansas, who drive long distances each day to work and school. For the United States to remain competitive in the global market and to meet our country’s energy needs, Congress must develop a comprehensive national energy policy. No single form of energy can provide the answer.
President Obama recently announced the U.S. Export-Import Bank approved a loan to help Petrobras – Brazil’s national oil company – explore for oil off its coast. While this decision will help the Brazilian economy develop its domestic energy industry and bring new oil supplies to the world market, we are left to wonder why the president refuses to allow development of our own domestic oil supplies. A recent report from the Congressional Research Service found that our country’s resources are far greater than those of Saudi Arabia, China and Canada combined – in fact, our recoverable oil, natural gas and coal supplies are the largest on the planet.
This is an important moment and an important opportunity. To reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, we must develop domestic resources of oil, natural gas and coal; encourage the development of renewable energy sources; and promote conservation. From fossil fuels to renewable resources, I remain committed to developing a comprehensive energy policy that builds on the Kansan spirit of self-reliance, innovation and creativity. To read more about my thoughts on this important issue, click here to read an editorial I wrote about this topic this week.
I recently introduced S. 778, the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services (PARTS) Act, to preserve Kansans’ access to important health care services. This bill would make sure that rural populations have access to a full range of outpatient therapeutic services in hospitals in their own communities. “Outpatient therapeutic services” include services like drug infusions, blood transfusions, outpatient psychiatric services, wound debridement, and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.
These services have always been administered by licensed, skilled medical professionals under the overall direction of a physician. However, in its attempt clarify existing regulations, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2009 retroactively interpreted the policy to require that a physician provide supervision and be physically present in the same outpatient department at all times when these services, the majority of which are low risk, are furnished.
In response to concerns raised by me, other lawmakers from rural states, and hospitals, CMS delayed enforcement of these direct supervision regulations in 2010 and 2011, but they are scheduled to go into effect next year. My primary concern is that, if hospitals are required to have more physicians and non-physician providers on hand to directly supervise low risk services without a clear clinical need, then rural hospitals, which face difficulty hiring and retaining providers, will be forced to discontinue or limit the hours these services are provided.
CMS’ policy does not take into account the realities of rural health care. Many Kansas hospitals, and other rural hospitals across the country, will find these supervision requirements impossible to meet, which will jeopardize continued access to these important health care services. Small and rural hospitals, where medical workforce shortages are most severe, need reasonable flexibility to appropriately staff their facilities so they can continue to provide a full range of services to their communities. The PARTS Act is a commonsense solution that would preserve patient safety while easing unreasonable regulations on hospitals.
President Eisenhower’s legacy of protecting our country and the American people is most deserving of a national memorial. It is an honor to have been recently appointed to serve on the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, whose mission is to establish a permanent memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor one of Kansas’ most famous sons. I was first appointed to serve on the Memorial Commission in 2000 while I represented Kansans in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am honored to once again serve on the Commission so future generations can learn of President Eisenhower’s contributions to our country. You can learn more about the proposed memorial design and see where it will be located by visiting www.eisenhowermemorial.org.
This month, I am continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by to share your thoughts.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Mitchell County Listening Tour Stop, Beloit
Location: Beloit Municipal Building, Trail Room
Address: 119 N. Hersey Avenue
Time: 3:30-4:30 PM
Wednesday, April 27,
Wabaunsee County Listening Tour Stop, Alma
Location: Grandma Hoerner’s Foods
Address: 31862 Thompson Road
Time: 9:45-10:45 AM
Nemaha County Listening
Tour Stop, Centralia
Location: Centralia Community Building
Address: 106 John Riggins Avenue
Time: 2:30-3:30 PM
Brown County Listening
Tour Stop, Horton
Location: Horton Blue Building
Address: 716 1st Avenue West
Time: 4:30-5:30 PM
Monday, May 16, 2011
Wyandotte County Listening Tour, Kansas City
Location: West Wyandotte Library
Address: 1737 N. 82nd Street, 66112
Time: 9:00-10:00 AM
Monday, May 30, 2011
Allen County Listening Tour Stop, Iola
Location: American Legion
Address: 712 West Patterson Avenue
Time: 1:30-2:30 PM
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sedgwick County Listening Tour Stop, Wichita
Location: Hyatt Regency Hotel
Address: 400 W. Waterman
Time: 12:00-1:00 PM
June 1, 2011
Butler County Listening Tour Stop, El Dorado
Location: El Dorado Civic Center
Address: 201 East Central Avenue
Time: 12:30-1:00 PM
Chase County Listening Tour Stop, Cottonwood
Location: Prairie Pastimes
Address: 220 1/2 Broadway
Time: 2:15-3:15 PM
County Listening Tour Stop, Florence
Location: Doyle Creek Mercantile
Address: 510 Main Street
Time: 4:00-5:00 PM
I am back in Kansas while the Senate is not in session this week, so my next “Coffee with Kansans” event will be held on May 4th, 2011. I am excited to host the next coffee in my new official office location, Russell Senate Office Building, Room 354, at 9:30 a.m. If you plan on being in Washington during the first week of May, I would encourage you to RSVP by clicking here. I look forward to visiting with you.
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C. office from across the state, including:
Steve and Janice Wiens of Liberal
of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas
Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon of Kansas City
Ed Condon of Kansas City
Tom Willis of Liberal
Many Kansans also stopped by for a tour of the United States Capitol including Ann Maxwell and Abby New of Ottawa; Aaron Bolch and Kim Shafer of Roeland Park; Jo Ann Day of Hutchinson; Vickie Matney of Andover; Martin, Debra, Kelsey and Jack Ryan of Overland Park; Sarah Fraser of McPherson; and Joe, Carrie, Luke and Lance Meyer of Wellsville.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
- PARTS ACT - Full Bill Text - (179.2 KBs)
- PARTS Act Summary - (197.9 KBs)
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