Kansas Common Sense

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Appropriations Hearing on Alzheimer’s Disease

On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Taking a Toll on Families and the Economy: The Rising Cost of Alzheimer’s in America.” As Ranking Member of this subcommittee, I requested this hearing to examine the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease – both economic and personal – and the state of current research initiatives. I invited my former colleague, Congressman Dennis Moore of Lenexa, to share his personal story at the hearing. Rep. Moore was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in June 2011, after serving Kansas’ Third District from 1999-2011. I thank Dennis for testifying about his own difficult challenges. He and his wife, Stephene, have focused their efforts helping individuals and families struggling with this terrible disease. Seth Rogen, actor, comedian, and Alzheimer’s Association Celebrity Champion, also shared personal testimony at this hearing. Additionally, the witness panel included Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Richard Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging; Dr. Story Landis, Director of the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and Dr. Michael Hurd, Director of the RAND Center for the Study of Aging.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than five million Americans currently living with the disease. Caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to cost $203 billion this year, with $142 billion covered by the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. Testimony by the RAND Corporation indicated the cost of dementia care is projected to double over the next 30 years, surpassing health care expenses for both heart disease and cancer. Without a way to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s, it will be difficult – if not impossible – to rein in our nation’s health care costs. Last year, I worked to prioritize funding for the National Institute on Aging – the lead institute for Alzheimer’s research at the NIH – in the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill. I also supported the initial year of funding for the new initiative to map the human brain. Both of these projects will increase our understanding of the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s, unlock the mysteries of the makeup and functioning of the brain, and bring us closer to effective treatments and one day, hopefully, a cure.

Click here to see a video clip from the hearing. Also, click here to read an editorial I wrote for Roll Call about this hearing and the importance of defeating Alzheimer’s disease. Click here to read the Topeka Capital-Journal’s coverage of the hearing.

The following Kansans attended the hearing as my guests. I thank them for their interest in this important matter and willingness to join me.

  • Dr. Jeffrey Burns – Associate Director of the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Fairway
  • Dr. Stephen L. Benson – Licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in Wichita and specializing in adult and older adult psychotherapy. Dr. Benson is active with the Alzheimer’s Association in the Wichita community.
  • Dr. Robert and Sue Reeves from Manhattan

Americans Have Right to Voice Opinions on Obamacare
On Thursday evening, I spoke on the Senate floor to refute Senator Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) assertion that Americans with stories of struggle under Obamacare are liars and “all of them are untrue.” On Wednesday, Senator Reid used a column written by his own political consultant to discredit the stories being told of Americans who have very real struggles and have lost their health care coverage as a result of Obamacare. Occasionally, a Kansan will share with me the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, but I have heard directly from numerous Kansans about the devastating effects Obamacare has had on their families. I can assure the Majority Leader that Kansans are salt of the earth people. They are, most assuredly, not liars. And they do not deserve to be called liars by any member of the Senate.

In addition to calling Americans liars, the Majority Leader went on to accuse those working to bring light to the broken promises of the Affordable Care Act of being “as un-American as anyone I can imagine.” Accusations of who is un-American are deeply unfortunate but all too common. From the earliest days of our Republic, it has been a tactic exerted by those in power to humiliate and discredit those who come from different backgrounds or have views that challenge those in power. Click here to watch my full speech on the Senate floor.

U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors
I was recently appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, which will allow me the opportunity to continue advocating for airmen in Kansas and all those who serve around the country. The board provides the Secretary of Defense and members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees independent advice and recommendations on matters relating to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Americans are fortunate to have so many intelligent, hard-working and patriotic young men and women interested in serving our country in the Air Force. I feel privileged each year when I have the chance to recommend Kansans for admission to the Academy, and I’m fortunate to be in a position to make certain this institution provides the best possible education and training for the next generation. I also look forward to working with former McConnell AFB 22nd Wing Commander Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson who is the first female superintendent of the Academy.

Reauthorizing Critical Drought Information Program
This week, the Senate passed my bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), which provides vital drought information to farmers, ranchers, and other industries affected by weather. The reauthorization of this program provides certainty for farmers and ranchers while they are still grappling with the devastating effects of drought. This legislation will extend the program for five years and supports an interactive “early warning system” of timely and accurate drought information, as well as an integrated weather monitoring and forecasting system. The bill now heads to the president for his signature. Click here to learn more.

Speaking to Chiropractors at National Legislative Conference
This week, I had the opportunity to speak with Doctors of Chiropractic from across the country, including many Kansans, who had gathered in Washington for a national conference. Our discussion focused on the difficulties many Americans are facing in accessing quality health care services – especially our nation’s veterans. As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I have the opportunity to help veterans get the care they need and deserve, and I am committed to keeping our promise to those who have served our country.

In 2003, I introduced the Department of Veterans Affairs Chiropractic Act, legislation that required the VA to appoint Doctors of Chiropractic and integrate them into the agency to provide care to veterans. Portions of this bill were incorporated into a veterans health care bill that passed Congress and became law. While I was pleased with passage of this legislation, our work has continued. Last February, I joined Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut in introducing legislation, the Chiropractic Care Available to All Veterans Act, to further increase access to chiropractic care at VA medical centers nationwide. Our legislation would direct the VA to provide chiropractic care at a minimum of 75 VA medical centers by the end of this year, and at all VA medical centers by the end of 2016. A special thanks to Dr. Carl Cleveland, President of Cleveland Chiropractic College in Overland Park, for his kind introduction.

Meeting with Textron CEO Scott Donnelly
On Friday, I sat down with Scott Donnelly, CEO of Textron, Inc., to discuss his company’s pending purchase of Wichita’s Beechcraft. Textron is currently undergoing the regulatory review process, and both sides hope the transaction can be completed this spring. As the parent company for Cessna, Textron will bring together two of the legendary names in general aviation. Mr. Donnelly informed me that Textron will maintain the universally-recognized and respected Beechcraft brand and that a team of leaders from each company has initiated discussions about the transition.

I also appreciated the chance to discuss issues of importance to not only Textron but all of general aviation, including: how general aviation fees would damage the industry and how a streamlined FAA certification process would allow American companies to better compete in the global marketplace.

Thank you to Mr. Donnelly and his Textron team for their continued presence in Kansas, and for the important role they play in ensuring that Wichita remains the Air Capital of the World. Click here to read more about my visit in The Wichita Eagle.

University of Kansas Internship Program
Thursday, I enjoyed meeting with college students from across the state who are interning in Washington, D.C., this spring semester as part of an intern program through the University of Kansas. It was a pleasure learning about the current interests and future plans of these students. I shared with them how my interest in politics began when I came to Washington as an intern during college. I also appreciated their questions on various topics of the day. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit with the next generation of leaders in our communities, state, and nation. Click here to see a photo.

Kansans in the Office
Stephen Bensin of Wichita
Kerry Domke of Lenexa
Joe Williams of Shawnee
John Greathouse of Hays 

Lindsey Vogtsberger of Kansas City
Doug Erving of Kansas City 

Kansas Honor Flight
Mike VanCampen of Turon
Connie VanCampen of Turon
Lowell Downey of Hutchinson
Joyce Downey of Hutchinson 

Department of Kansas Disabled American Veterans
Mayor Ken Gile of Benton
Jim Price of Salina
Ellen Price of Salina
Sarah Gile of Benton
Kerin Brader of Parsons
David Brader of Parsons
Max E. Wheeler of Wichita
Cliff Dillard of Colwich
Ardith Dillard of Colwich
Charles Lovings of Wichita 

National Council of the Blind
Judith Davis of Topeka
Nancy Johnson of Topeka 

ONE 2014 Power Summit
Anna Herrick of Lawrence
William Payne of Overland Park 

American Alliance of Museums
Noemi Tracy of Lawrence 

Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals
Duane Dorshorst of Oberlin
Annie Diederich of Topeka 

National Association of Health Underwriters
Beverly Gossage of Eudora
Robert Richey of Wichita
Dallas Scrip of Wichita 

Camp Wood YMCA
Philip Guries of Salina
Ken Wold of Strong City 

Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Kiana Knolland of Wichita 

Kansas Association of Broadcasters
Kent Cornish of Topeka
Jim Ogle of Topeka
Monte Miller of Manhattan
Bruce Dierking of Marysville
Mark Trotman of Hutchinson
Darrin McDonald of Kansas City
Richard Wartell of Manhattan
Joan Barrett of Wichita
Jean Turnbough of Topeka
Dorris Miller of Manhattan 

Kansas Foundation for Medical Care
Ken Mishler of Topeka 

Physician Hospitals of America
Paul Kerens of Kansas City 

Kansas Geographic Alliance
John Harrington of Manhattan
Paul Phillips of Hays
Bebra Bolton of Garden City 

National Association of Convenience Stores
Kevin Hess of Hutchinson 

American Wind Energy Association
Anna Giovinetto of Ulysses
Matthew McCluskey of Ransom
Jeff Wood of Hutchinson 

Kansas Credit Union Association
Jim Holt of Calley Center
Ron Smeltzer of Topeka
Robert Reeves of Manhattan
Sue Reeves of Manhattan
Marla Maisa of Wichita
Larry Damm of Wichita
Jane Hammil of Wichita
Jane Magnuson of Lenexa
Lea Ann Gabbert of Wichita
Dawn Smith of Shawnee
Carol Perry of Leavenworth
Fredericka Braconnie of Leavenworth
Mike Greene of Wichita
Michael Augustine of Olathe
Kimberly Augustine of Olathe
Sarah Knolla of Wichita
Michelle Waln of Hutchinson
Gail Bright of Topeka
Leeann Marker of Hutchinson
Molly Homan of Leavenworth
Donald Homan of Leavenworth
Jim Ewert of Hutchinson
Chris Wolgamott of Valley Center
Jamie Taulbee of Wichita
Karen Callaway of Wichita
Sheryl Dick of Lawrence
Corey Winter of Wichita
Mike Welli of Wichita
Trey Cosick of Wichita
John Beverlin of Olathe
Ria Beverlin of Olathe
Rick Schier of Overland Park
Rob Persaud of Overland Park
Carrie O’Connor of Olathe
Kevin Wilmoth of Wichita
James Nastars of Wichita
Brian Davidson of Wichita
Duane VanCamp of Wichita
Preston Ford of Topeka 

Kansas Veterans’ Home Organization
Steve Dunkin of Winfield
Scott Hilmes of Dodge City 

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
Lynda Bonewald of Kansas City 

Dairy Farmers of America
Steve Strickler of Iola
Dan Senestraro of Johnson City 

American Academy of Family Physicians
Michael Munger of Overland Park 

Kansas Spring Interns
Zhi Geng of Lawrence
Amanda Gress of Overland Park
Josh Hill of Lawrence
Emily Taylor of Silver Lake
James Pearlman of Lawrence
Alex Samuelson of Wichita
Stephanie Horton of Hoisington
Valerie Brockman of Wichita
Shane Maxton of Wichita
Natalie Schmidt of Wichita 

Kevin Dobbs of Lawrence 

National Down Syndrome Society
Richard Martinez of Topeka
Jawanda Mast of Olathe
Jonathan Mast of Olathe
Jennifer Ross of Mission
Rebecca McCaulley of Wichita
Charlotte Smith of Wichita
Beth Sullivan of Andover
Tavrick Lawless of Wichita
Anita Raghavan of Wichita 

Kansas Chiropractic Association
Kendall Payne of Overland Park
Travis Oller of Topeka
Karl May of Clearwater
Tobi Jeurink of Gardner
Brian Asbury of Olathe
Steven Gould of Cheney
Gina Gould of Cheney
Hollee Kirchner of Burlington
Jordan Tennant of Overland Park 

US Travel Association
Natalie Bright of Shawnee
Linda Craghead of Alma
Kevin Fern of Shawnee
Karen Hibbard of Manhattan
Donna Price of Goodland
Roxanne Morgan of Garden City 

Saint Luke’s Health System
Jeff Little of Kansas City 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Barb Nelson of Lenexa
Elizabeth Hollar of Emporia 

Kansas Civil Air Patrol
Major Lauri Filkins of Salina
Lt. Col Duane Filkins of Salina
Captain Joshua Schwanke of Junction City 

National Hemophilia Foundation
Jennifer Rentschler of Wichita
Mark Skinner of Clay Center
Mark Cox of Olathe 

National Treasury Employees Union
David Foran of Kansas City 

National Council of Teachers of English
Andy Anderson of Overland Park 

Capitol Tour
Scott Jerwick of Overland Park
Sharon Jerwick of Overland Park
Jason Jerwick of Overland Park
Zachary Fargo of Overland Park
Andrea Fargo of Overland Park
Darren Beckham of Wichita 

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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