Kansas Common Sense
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Hosting the Airbus Air Capital Supplier Summit
On Monday, I had the pleasure of welcoming Airbus and more than 200 representatives from 114 aviation suppliers to Kansas’ first-ever Air Capital Supplier Summit in Wichita. Suppliers converged on the world-class National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) for the opportunity to meet one-on-one with representatives from Airbus and other suppliers. I want to thank Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor for co-hosting this great event, aimed at facilitating more business between Kansas companies and Airbus.
The summit was held on the heels of Airbus’ recent announcement that the company not only intends to continue its partnership with Kansas, but it will expand its purchase of American-made components and services. Since 1990, Airbus has spent $127 billion with U.S. suppliers – $12 billion in 2011 alone. Now the company is set to double its American investment over the next 10 years. We must make certain that as Airbus looks to contract with new U.S. suppliers, it looks to Kansas companies.
The purpose of the Air Capital Supplier Summit was to help meet that goal. Suppliers spent the morning learning about the supply-chain and risk management solutions practiced by Tier I companies, as well as their fellow Tier II and III suppliers, and were able to ask questions of panelists. In the afternoon, small- and mid-size suppliers met one-on-one with Airbus procurement executives and procurement representatives from other companies, including Spirit AeroSystems, Valent and Honeywell.
The Kansans I met with at the summit are forward thinking, innovative and focused on providing Airbus with the solutions and tools the company needs for continued success. I extend my sincerest thanks to the regional suppliers and the business men and women who responded with great enthusiasm to the summit. Their participation made certain that the best of Wichita’s aerospace and technology industries were on full display at NCAT. In fact, the sell-out event was so successful that Airbus has already agreed to join me in co-hosting a second summit in Kansas in the near future.
Thanks to the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC) and the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce for helping make the event possible. Thanks also to Suzie Ahlstrand, Tammy Nolan and Wichita Chamber President Walter Berry for the efforts of their team. Finally, thanks to Dr. John Tomblin and his colleagues at the National Institute for Aviation Research and the Wichita Aero Club as well as Patrick Tuttle and the local elected officials who appeared at the event, for all of their support in making this a great day for Kansas aviation. Click here to learn more. Click here to see photos from the summit.
Inviting the CMS Administrator to Kansas Hospitals
On Tuesday, I hosted Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), on a tour of Kansas health care facilities to meet with a variety of health care providers across the state. Ms. Tavenner is the head official at CMS, the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid. As a member of the Senate subcommittee that appropriates the budgets of HHS and CMS, I arranged this tour for Ms. Tavenner after she accepted my invitation to visit Kansas in order to learn more about the unique challenges facing health care providers and patients in our state. Many of Kansas’ hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing facilities and other health care providers operate on tight margins to provide quality care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries spread across a wide area. Each time I visit one of these facilities and meet the individuals providing this care to Kansans, I learn something new and useful for analyzing federal health care policy.
Tuesday’s tour included the following six meetings in northeast Kansas:
- Visiting Providence Medical Center – The day began with a visit to Providence Medical Center in Kansas City. We toured the hospital with Providence’s president and CEO Randy Nyp, and met with a group of hospital administrators from across Kansas to discuss policies that ensure all Kansas communities have access to quality, affordable health care. This access is critical for not only improving Kansans’ health, but also for economic development in our state. Thank you to Randy, Betty Gearheart, Libby Knox, and the rest of the Providence staff, and Tom Bell with the Kansas Hospital Association for organizing this tour and discussion. Click here to see photos of the tour and meeting.
- Home Health Care Visit – Following the hospital tour, we traveled to Lawrence to observe a home health care visit at the home of Shirley Webb. Shirley graciously invited us into her home, on her 88th birthday nonetheless, to see how Visiting Nurses of Lawrence provides care and support to patients in their homes to aid their recoveries and avoid costly inpatient hospital stays. Judy Bellome, CEO of Visiting Nurses, and nurse Lori Lee, also showed us how they use telemonitoring technology to monitor patients vital signs and share health information electronically with doctors and nurses to alert them of potential problems before they become emergencies. Thank you to Judy and Jane Kelly with the Kansas Home Care Association for setting up this visit. And finally, Happy Birthday to Shirley and thanks to her for welcoming us into her home. Click here to see a photo.
- Tour of KU School of Pharmacy – After the home health care visit, we drove to the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy where we met with KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and School of Pharmacy Dean Ken Audus. Dean Audus gave us a tour of the new 110,000 square-foot School of Pharmacy, which includes state-of-the-art technology to connect the building with KU’s campuses in Kansas City and Wichita. KU is our state’s sole provider of pharmacy graduates who go on to serve the health care needs of Kansans. KU’s pharmacy program ranks among the top public university programs (18th nationwide), according to U.S. News and World Report, and is fourth among all pharmacy schools for utilizing National Institutes of Health research funding. Thank you to Chancellor Gray-Little, Dean Audus, Jackie Hosey and KU staff for coordinating our visit.
- Pharmacists Meeting – The Kansas Pharmacists Association was holding its annual Kansas Pharmacy Summit during our visit to the School of Pharmacy. This allowed us to speak with Kansas pharmacists to learn more about how they provide medication, counsel and care to Kansans across the state. Thank you to Mike Larkin and Lauren Tice of the Kansas Pharmacists Association for hosting us at their Summit. Click here to see a photo.
- Physicians Meeting – Ms. Tavenner and I also met with physician members of the Kansas Medical Society to discuss initiatives to protect the physician-patient relationship and regulations dealing quality of care and medical innovation. Thank you to Jerry Slaughter with Kansas Medical Society for organizing this meeting.
- Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Meeting – We concluded our day with a meeting with members of the Kansas Health Care Association and Kansas Center for Assisted Living to discuss how skilled nursing and assisted living centers serve our state’s most vulnerable citizens. We also visited about ways these providers are striving to improve patient health and satisfaction. Thank you to Cindy Luxem and Kathy McLaughlin with the Kansas Health Care Association coordinating this meeting. Click here to see a photo.
These and all the health providers in Kansas are the foundation of our communities. Thanks to Ms. Tavenner for accepting my invitation to come to Kansas and accompany me on these visits. I know the conversations she had with Kansans will give her valuable perspective for her work in Washington.
Continuing the Effort to Advance Cancer Research in Kansas
While hosting Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and discuss the next step in the KU Cancer Center’s (KUCC) efforts to advance cancer research in our state.
Last month, KUCC was selected for National Cancer Institute designation. NCI designation is the highest recognition for an academic cancer center, opening doors to expanded research opportunities and bringing the most advanced cancer care to patients. But KU is not stopping with this exclusive NCI Cancer Center designation in its quest to eliminate cancer. The next step is working to become an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, which represents a further advanced scope of cancer research, prevention and treatment. I remain fully committed to making sure that KUCC remains at the front lines in our nation’s efforts to combat cancer.
KUCC’s commitment to research will allow KUCC patients to have access to the latest clinical trials and the most advanced cancer treatments close to home. KUCC will also be better positioned to recruit the brightest researchers and scientists to develop cutting-edge treatments and cures here in Kansas. Kansas students wishing to conduct the most advanced research to attack cancer and other diseases will no longer have to leave our state to do so. Additionally, this extraordinary accomplishment will have a transformative effect on our state’s economy, enabling Kansas to continue developing into a research powerhouse for medical, pharmaceutical, and technological advancement. Click here to see a photo from my visit with KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
Western Kansas is a very special place, and I always enjoy it when I have the opportunity to visit. On Thursday morning, I couldn't have gotten much further west when I spent time with the citizens of Kanorado. I had a great visit with City Clerk Susan Adams at the Town Hall. Thanks again for the hospitality. Click here to see a photo.
Kansans in the Olympics
Kansas sent five athletes to represent the United States in the Olympic Games in London this summer. Amy Hastings of Leavenworth competed in track and field, Diamond Dixon of Lawrence competed in track and field, Erik Kynard Jr. of Manhattan competed in track and field, Isiah Young of Junction City competed in track and field, and Shannon Vreeland of Overland Park competed in swimming.
Several of these elite athletes made it onto the medal stand. K-State student-athlete Erik Kynard Jr. won the silver medal in the men’s high jump event, KU’s Diamond Dixon won the gold medal in the women’s 4x400m track relay and Shannon Vreeland won the gold medal in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay. I am proud of each of our Kansan Olympians and congratulate them on their outstanding achievements.
Meeting with Kansas Bankers
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to address the annual meeting of the Kansas Bankers’ Association (KBA). The financial downturn of the past few years could have been avoided if banks across our country operated in the responsible fashion that Kansas banks do. Our national economy cannot fully recover if our community banks are hit with regulations that were intended to reign in irresponsible lenders. My remarks centered around two bills I have introduced, S. 1600, the Communities First Act, and S. 2160, the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act. These two bills would allow smaller responsible lenders to play an important role in our ongoing efforts to put our country back on sound financial footing. Special thanks to KBA President Chuck Stones and the KBA membership for inviting me to join them.
Small Businesses in Need of Regulatory Relief
One of the most frequent topics small business owners raise with me as I travel Kansas and visit their factories and offices is the burden of federal regulations. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), businesses with fewer than 20 employees spend more than $10,000 per year per employee, to comply with federal regulations. I am working in Washington to prevent the implementation of costly new regulations like the Utility MACT rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – the most expensive regulation ever proposed by the EPA, which would raise utility costs for Kansas small businesses. I am also working to reform the regulatory process so that the costs and benefits of new regulation are studied before a rule is implemented.
If you are a small business owner who has suffered from excessive federal fines, penalties, or unfair regulatory enforcement, you can report the incident to the SBA Office of the National Ombudsman. This office assists small businesses with unfair and excessive regulatory enforcement by federal agencies and coordinates regional regulatory fairness boards that report cases of unfair regulatory enforcement.
Freeing small businesses from the web of federal regulatory enforcement will allow business owners to invest more of their resources in growing their business and hiring new employees.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Valencia Monk Morgan
Linda K. Boerger
Dr. Brian Dufner
Hector Corea of Wichita, Tony DeJesus, and Louis G Smith IV also stopped by the office.
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,
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