Kansas Common Sense
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Celebrating Independence Day
Independence Day is a special holiday – a time when we come together as Americans to celebrate our nation’s founding with parades, fireworks and barbecues. While celebrating this year with your family and community, I hope you took a moment to remember the sacrifices our veterans and current members of the Armed Forces have made to defend the freedoms enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is because of these sacrifices that America is still the land of opportunity and the greatest nation on Earth.
Sundown Salute Parade and 143rd Annual Wamego Independence Day Parade
I had the pleasure of kicking off my Independence Day by participating in the Sundown Salute Parade in Junction City. The Sundown Salute is the largest, free Independence Day celebration in Kansas thanks to the generosity of Kansans. It was great to visit with Kansans and veterans that came out to enjoy the festivities.
I also stopped in Wamego for their 143rd Annual Independence Day Parade – one of the largest in the state. The theme this year was “Long May She Wave – Beautiful & Brave.” I appreciated the opportunity to see so many patriotic Kansans come out to celebrate our nation’s independence and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
Troubling Problems with Obamacare Exchanges
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Inspector General (IG) released two reports on verification systems for the Obamacare health insurance Exchanges. One report reviews the effectiveness of the procedures and safeguards for preventing fraudulent or inaccurate information by applicants enrolling in health plans through these Exchanges. This report finds that the Obamacare system lacks internal controls to verify information provided by individuals enrolling through Obamacare. The second report details the inconsistencies that arose as part of the haphazard enrollment process. The IG finds that most exchanges were unable to resolve the majority of inconsistencies, most often relating to the income and citizenship of enrollees. In particular, the federal Exchange was unable to resolve 2.6 million out of 2.9 million inconsistencies as of February 2014.
The Administration has unilaterally changed Obamacare to bend every rule it can – delayed regulations, changed the enrollment period, and given select individual and employer exemptions – to try and make the law work. Once again, we are provided further evidence that Obamacare is not working. In fact, the Administration is relying on nothing more than the honor system to run a billion dollar program. Without adequate safeguards or the ability to reconcile inconsistencies in income and citizenship, the Administration is wasting millions in American taxpayers’ dollars to provide subsidies to individuals who do not actually qualify.
Without a process in place to verify an enrollee’s income or citizenship, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the HHS agency responsible for implementing Obamacare, will continue to process applications based on nothing more than the honor system. As a result, the Administration will hand out inaccurate subsidies while relying on an unproven, incomplete back-end system to recoup incorrect subsidies during the tax filing process. This disorganization will result in massive uncertainty with the Administration having to dedicate more taxpayer dollars to reclaim the incorrect subsidies from enrollees who may not have the money to pay them back. In addition, many Americans who based their insurance choice off inaccurate subsidy information may now see their premiums increase as their subsidy is reduced by the Administration. In May, I demanded a response from HHS about press reports stating the federal government may be paying incorrect Obamacare subsidies to more than one million individuals. HHS has yet to respond to my letter, which you can read here. Click here to read more about this issue.
McConnell Air Force Base KC-46A Groundbreaking
It was an honor to take part in McConnell Air Force Base’s KC-46A Groundbreaking on Monday in the Air Capital of the World. The event was to prepare for the arrival of the new refueling tankers at McConnell, and was a reminder that a strong national defense is critical to the security of the United States.
The upcoming arrival of the new KC-46A tanker fleet at McConnell will also translate into an economic boost for the community as each phase of preparation is completed. I am grateful the Air Force understands the value of air mobility assets in Kansas. I will continue to work with Air Force leadership to make certain the KC-46A delivery process runs as smoothly as possible. Thanks to Commander of Air Mobility Command Gen. Darren McDew for taking part in the ceremony.
Commitment from Acting VA Secretary on Future of ARCH Program
On Wednesday, I wrote to Acting Secretary Gibson following our phone conversation on June 27, 2014, to reaffirm his verbal commitment that veterans will continue to receive their medical services through the successful program – Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH). The correspondence this week is one of several recent efforts interacting with the VA to make certain veterans receiving care through ARCH will not experience a lapse in access to that care.
Last week, I was alerted to plans by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to send letters to veterans notifying them that their medical services through ARCH would be ending this fall. Thankfully, these letters were put on hold by VHA Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Administrative Operations Philip Matkovsky after I requested these notifications be halted. At a time when the VA says it is looking for ways to “accelerate access to care” for veterans, the VHA should be supporting the continuation of ARCH rather than trying to dismantle this effective program.
In light of VHA’s repeated and unpredictable decisions about the future of ARCH, I spoke with Acting Secretary Gibson to make sure he was personally involved in assuring that veterans currently receiving medical services through ARCH will continue to receive those medical services. It was an informative conversation and I believe codifying VA’s commitment through correspondence will further demonstrate Acting Secretary Gibson’s support for veterans who deserve access to quality care. Click here to read my letter to Sec. Gibson.
Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
I joined Topeka community and business leaders and Senator Roberts this week at a luncheon at the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. We had a productive conversation about a number of issues facing Topeka, our state and the country including Iraq, overregulation, education, immigration, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, pensions and flood control. Thanks to Payless ShoeSource's Curtis Sneden for helping to coordinate the event.
Investiture Ceremony for Dan Crabtree
It was an honor to be in Kansas City this week at the investiture of Daniel Crabtree as Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. He has represented a number of businesses in complex civil litigation in both state and federal courts. Dan is a man of integrity, humility and compassion, and based on those characteristics I supported his Senate confirmation this spring. Thank you to Judge Crabtree and his wife Maureen Mahoney for the invitation to participate in this special day.
Clay County Medical Center
On Wednesday, I traveled to Clay Center to visit and tour the Clay County Medical Center (CCMC). CCMC is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) that provides a broad range of health care services to patients in Clay County and the surrounding area. CCMC also sponsors a Medicare-licensed hospice program called Meadowlark Hospice.
My discussion with CCMC administrators and staff covered various topics including unnecessarily burdensome and flawed Medicare audit regulations. Many Kansas hospitals have been forced to divert significant resources away from caring for patients to appeal incorrect audit decisions that are ultimately overturned through the appeal process. This broken Medicare audit program places an unreasonable burden on providers, and has created a two-year appeals backlog within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I continue working to require HHS to address this problem. In April, I met with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to discuss these concerns. CMS is the division of HHS responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid. Also, I included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2015 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill requiring HHS to account for improving the Medicare audit appeals process and addressing the current backlog.
When federal policies fail to take into account the realities of providing care in rural communities, we risk losing access to important health care services provided by Kansas hospitals and other health care providers. I will continue to advocate for regulatory flexibility for rural hospitals and other health providers to deliver the care that is essential to Kansas communities. Thanks to CCMC Director of Planning and Development Marcia Newell for hosting my visit.
Clay Independence Day Celebration
It was a Norman Rockwell kind of evening in Clay Center on Wednesday. Since 2002, I’ve been joining neighbors, friends and community leaders to celebrate Independence Day on North 5th Street. I appreciate the invitation from Judge Ruth Brown for this year’s gathering.
Remembering the Life and Service of State Representative Dan Johnson
This past week, Hays-native Daniel Johnson passed away. I attended his visitation on Thursday to offer my condolences to Gwen and other members of his family. A farmer, veteran and representative for the 110th District, he will be remembered for his work ethic and commitment to improving his community and our state. Known as a straight shooter, Dan was independent in thought and firm in his conviction, and I am truly honored to have called him a friend. I send my deepest sympathies his wife Gwen, and ask all Kansans to join me in keeping the Johnson family in our thoughts and prayers during the days ahead.
Kansas Listening Tour Stops
This week, I made Kansas Listening Tour stops in Chase, Norton and Dickinson Counties. I encourage you to subscribe to my newsletter or check my website to make certain you know when I’ll be in your county – I always appreciate a good dose of Kansas common sense.
I continued my Statewide Listening Tour on Monday in Cottonwood Falls at the Chase County Courthouse. Thanks to the 20 residents who came out to share their thoughts and concerns with me on issues including the impact of bank overregulation on the housing market, grasslands burning and the EPA, job creation and communications needs in rural Kansas. It was good to visit with everyone, including Kansas Veteran’s Home Superintendent Steve Dunkin, Dr. Leo Pauls of Emporia and Rick Wilborn of McPherson.
On Thursday, I hosted another Kansas Listening Tour stop at Norton County Hospital. Nearly 40 area residents joined me to share feedback on a number of issues facing our country including VA, immigration and overregulation. Thanks to Norton County Hospital CEO Rich Miller for helping to coordinate the meeting.
Saturday morning before heading back to Washington, I hosted another town hall meeting in Dickinson County at the Chapman Senior Center. More than 20 elected officials, veterans and community members from Abilene, Maple Hill, Gypsum and around the area traveled to Chapman to discuss a number of issues facing Kansas and the country. Our conversation centered around water regulation, the Lesser Prairie Chicken, veterans' affairs, IRS, Ft. Riley, immigration and Obamacare. It was good to hear the community is growing. Thanks to Thelma Lexow for helping to coordinate the meeting.
Accepting Applications for Fall 2014 Internships
My office is accepting applications for congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices for fall 2014. A legislative internship in my office is an opportunity for students to work closely with Senate staff on a variety of issues on behalf of Kansans and gain professional experience. Legislative interns will gain knowledge of the Congress’s legislative process and gain the skills and knowledge necessary for future career pursuits.
The application deadline for fall 2014 internships is July 8, 2014. Applications may be obtained and completed under the “Services” section of my website at www.moran.senate.gov. Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation and a cover letter explaining their interest in public service and detailing a policy issue of personal importance. Please submit required materials to: email@example.com.
Kansas in the Office
Humane Society of the United States
Midge Grinstead of Lawrence
Linda German of Salina
Robert German of Salina
Kansas Music Educators Association
Avian Bear of Overland Park
Martha Gabel of Olathe
Craig Manteuffel of Hays
John Taylor of Wichita
Mike Quilling of Garden City
Erin Funk of Topeka
National Youth Leadership Conference
Srirameteja Veerisetti of Overland Park
Sam Tompkins of Olathe
Tomi Schwandt of Hays
Patrick Cook of Overland Park
Lori Cook of Overland Park
Thomas Cook of Overland Park
Jack Cook of Overland Park
Karen Hight of Topeka
Maddox Hight of Topeka
Courtney Xiong of Roeland Park
Chueteh Xiong of Roeland Park
Don Merriman of Salina
Brent Walter of Salina
Rosemarie Walter of Salina
Ean Walter of Salina
Debra Holmes of Salina
Grant Bannister of Manhattan
William Bannister of Manhattan
Grace Bannister of Manhattan
Sydney Bannister of Manhattan
John Kloeppner of Buhler
Vicky Kloeppner of Buhler
Riley Kloeppner of Buhler
Brigette Kloeppner of Buhler
Aaron Merrick of Overland Park
Shannen Merrick of Overland Park
Caden Merrick of Overland Park
Cohen Merrick of Overland Park
Camren Merrick of Overland Park
Lucas Lowry of Shawnee
Will Kessler of Shawnee
Galen Craghead of Alma
Logan Craghead of Alma
Gary Bjorge of Lawrence
Brad Davis of Lawrence
Kris Davis of Lawrence
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.
Very truly yours,
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