Kansas Common Sense


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Making Certain the Veterans Choice Program Will Continue to Serve Veterans
The Senate unanimously supported legislation last week to appropriate funding for the Veterans Choice Program, which offers veterans access to quality healthcare closer to home. As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, I worked on this legislative funding effort to make certain veterans do not experience a lapse in their care and will be able to access it in their local communities.

Veterans in Kansas and across the country have benefitted from the access to quality and timely healthcare that the Choice network provides since its induction in 2014. Veterans deserve the best our nation has to offer, and this is a proven program that veterans like and need. I urge the president to quickly sign this bill into law so our nation’s heroes can continue to receive increased access to healthcare in their communities.

Click here for a comprehensive timeline of my work on this issue, dating back to 2014 when I first introduced the Veterans Choice Act.

Convening Senate Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on Insurance Fraud
The total estimated cost of non-health insurance fraud in the United States is more than $40 billion annually, and in turn costs the average American family upwards of $700 per year in the form of increased premiums, according to the FBI. As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Insurance, I convened a hearing on insurance fraud in America and its impact on industry and – more importantly – consumers. 

Insurance fraud schemes are constantly evolving and growing more complex over time. Technology will play a crucial role in catching more sophisticated fraud activity, and I appreciated the thoughtful insight of our distinguished witness panel regarding the use and efficacy of emerging technologies, data collection and consumer education practices to better detect and prevent insurance fraud.

Please watch my opening statement.

Supporting 5G Technology Deployment Resolution
I joined colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee in introducing a bipartisan resolution in support of deploying 5G mobile broadband technology across the nation. This resolution promotes strong economic growth and job creation while simultaneously addressing the digital divide between urban and rural areas. 5G mobile broadband will continue to facilitate the development of new technologies within the Internet of Things space, like self-driving cars, robotics and smart cities. In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing last month, I called upon the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to promote the deployment of this technology in its federal regulatory capacity so that it can benefit Kansans and Americans nationwide.

Holly Teeter Nominated to Serve as Federal Judge
The White House on Thursday evening announced the nomination of Ms. Holly Teeter of Lenexa to serve as a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. I know Ms. Teeter is an excellent choice for this Topeka-based seat due to her bright legal mind and wide variety of legal experience. A product of both the University of Kansas School of Engineering and School of Law, Ms. Teeter currently serves as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. Previously, she was a patent attorney in private practice after serving as a judicial law clerk in both the Western District of Missouri and the District of Kansas.

The next steps in Ms. Teeter’s confirmation will require a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and a committee vote to advance her nomination for a vote before the full Senate. I will urge my colleagues to quickly confirm Ms. Teeter.

Army Strong with Strong Leaders
The Senate unanimously confirmed Ryan McCarthy, a retired Army Ranger of the 75th Ranger Regiment and former special assistant to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, as Under Secretary of the Army. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. McCarthy prior to his confirmation to discuss the strategic importance of Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth in the development of prepared and intellectual soldiers.

Having visited Ft. Riley several years ago when serving then-Defense Secretary Roberts Gates, Mr. McCarthy was instrumental in helping the secretary execute his promise of constructing new schools for Army children and families stationed there. I am encouraged by his personal experience as an Army Ranger and desire to better the lives of soldiers and their families, particularly those who call Ft. Riley home. I look forward to working with Mr. McCarthy to improve the quality of life for all Army families and help ready our troops to be Army Strong in defense of our nation.

Hosting a Townhall Meeting in Geary County
Upon my return to Kansas this week, I hosted a townhall meeting in Geary County. The American Legion Post #45 was gracious to host the visit. Our discussion covered a wide array of issues, including the ongoing conversation about healthcare, education, jobs, Fort Riley troop strength growth and taking care of our local veterans.

I appreciate so many community members spending their Friday morning with me to voice their concerns with the federal government. Thanks to the more than 80 residents who attended – including Junction City Mayor and Army Veteran Phyllis Fitzgerald – Post #45 commander Fred Meyer for the introduction, Post #45 Vice Commander Dave Hill for coordinating my visit, and Geary Community Hospital CEO Joe Stratton for providing us with helpful input on the state of healthcare in the county.

Touring Topeka Regional Airport
I was invited to tour Topeka Regional Airport (TRA) at Forbes Field and meet with representatives of the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority (MTAA) on Saturday morning. I also met with representatives from the 190th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) of the Kansas Air National Guard (ANG) to learn about their partnership with MTAA.

Topeka Regional, along with Billard Airport, recently received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for runway and taxiway rehabilitation and improvements, in conjunction with the Kansas ANG’s monetary contribution to the TRA runway project at Forbes Field, which will provide for reinforcement of the runway.

This runway, which was built in the 1950s and is at the end of its usable lifespan, serves heavy military aircraft and is capable of landing heavy civilian aircraft when needed. To ensure the safety of military and civilian personnel, the current runway needs to be replaced – the deterioration has the potential to cause a significant danger to aircraft and their crews – and will, once completed, have an expanded life of another 30 years, allowing for long-term planning for the Air National Guard.

In addition to touring the runway construction, I discussed possible training opportunities and equipment with leadership of the 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard.

Thanks to MTAA Director of Airports Eric Johnson and Lt. Col Jake Salmond, Base Civil Engineer, 190th ARW for hosting me, and Topeka Chamber President and CEO of GoTopeka Matt Pivarnik, Project Engineer Jay Freund, and Lt. Col. Dan Skoda, ANG, Vice Commander, 190th Air Refueling Wing for attending.


Celebrating KU Cancer Center’s NCI-Designation Renewal
It was an honor to join the University of Kansas Medical Center and KU Cancer Center (KUCC) researchers and staff in celebrating KUCC’s renewal as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Center. NCI is our nation’s principal agency for cancer research and training. 

This is KUCC’s first renewal of NCI designation, which secures another five years of enhanced support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assist its efforts to discover, develop and deliver innovative treatments for cancer patients in our state and region. The renewal of this NCI designation also positions KUCC to continue to recruit the brightest researchers and scientists in the field to develop cutting-edge treatments and cures in Kansas; in turn, this advances the development of our state into a world-class research hub for medical, pharmaceutical and technological innovation. 

I was proud to support KUCC in its efforts to achieve NCI-designation in 2012, and was proud to support its recent pursuit of renewal of this important designation. KUCC has made considerable advancements in the last five years, and I look forward to witnessing its future successes. Congratulations to KUCC Director Dr. Roy Jensen and his team on this outstanding achievement.

Additionally, with the renewal of KUCC's designation, Children's Mercy Hospital has become a formal consortium member institution of the Cancer Center, thereby enhancing research, clinical care and support efforts for pediatric patients and their families from throughout the region. I’m continually impressed by Kansas’s care facilities and have enjoyed watching and helping them grow into world-renowned institutions. 

Meeting with Disability Developmental Agencies Directors
One of the important issues for me in evaluating healthcare policy recently considered by the Senate was how these policies would impact those most in need of quality care, such as individuals with disabilities. On Friday in Manhattan, I met with the Executive Directors of Disability Developmental Agencies (DDA) to discuss the value of Medicaid as well as the progress and impact it has on those that DDA serves as they work on long-term care solutions that help individuals live healthier and more independent lives.

I remain committed to supporting innovative ideas that improve the lives of Kansans and lower the many costs associated with healthcare. I appreciate the Executive Directors of DDA who participated in this discussion and look forward to continuing our dialogue. Special thanks to Jerry Michaud, DSNWK in Hays and Lori Feldkamp with Big Lakes Developmental Center for hosting the meeting. Also, thanks to Chad VonAhnen from Johnson County Developmental Supports, Colin McKenney from Starkey, Doug Wisby with MCDS, Shelia Nelson-Stout with OCCK, and Chris Gunn with InterHab for attending the meeting. 

Kansans in the Office
Christian Leis of Eureka
Trent Kennedy of Frankfort

Stacy Bishop of Fort Scott
Jena Russell of Fort Scott
Lynne Wheeler of Fort Scott
Stacy Mendez of Lawrence

American Psychological Association
Tracia Banuelos of Wichita
Deborah Ojeda-Leitner of Wichita
Glenn Adams of Lawrence

Capitol Tour
Sondra Morgan of Haysville
Larry Tyson of Haysville
Glenda Herl of Topeka
Mark Scheid of Topeka
Jared Herl of Topeka
Allison Herl of Topeka
Amaya Herl of Topeka
Malia Herl of Topeka
Philip Ozias of Olathe
Heather Ozias of Olathe
Trinity Ozias of Olathe
Noel Ozias of Olathe
Isaac Ozias of Olathe
Douglas Cline of Wichita
Brenda Stafford of Wichita
Alexander Cline of Wichita
Jordan Cline of Wichita
Samuel Cline of Wichita
Kent Adams of Wichita
Dana Adams of Wichita
Kennadie Adams of Wichita
Karsen Adams of Wichita
Lucas Winslow of El Dorado
Kelly Nuckolls of El Dorado
Gail Nuckolls of El Dorado
Dr. Jeff Gust of Hutchinson
Brian Voth of Hutchinson
James Carpenter of Manhattan
Terry Carpenter of Manhattan
Michael Carpenter of Manhattan
Steven Peterman of Manhattan
Erin Peterman of Manhattan
Kylie Peterman of Manhattan
Hayden Peterman of Manhattan
Asher Peterman of Manhattan
Robert Cammarn of El Dorado
Angela Cammarn of El Dorado
Chad Liebl of Hutchinson
Sarah Liebl of Hutchinson
Lauren Liebl of Hutchinson
David Neal of Hutchinson
Karin Neal of Hutchinson
Katherine Neal of Hutchinson
Jack Neal of Hutchinson
Benjamin Neal of Hutchinson
John Shaw of Hutchinson
Letty Shaw of Hutchinson
Molly Shaw of Hutchinson
Ian Shaw of Hutchinson
Greg Brokaw of Overland Park
Kristin Brokaw of Overland Park
Emma Brokaw of Overland Park
Leah Brokaw of Overland Park
Olivia Brokaw of Overland Park
Don Phillippi of Manhattan
Janet Phillippi of Manhattan
Jamie Schools of Overland Park
Brittany Schools of Overland Park
Josiah Schools of Overland Park
Micah Schools of Overland Park
Caleb Schools of Overland Park
Amanda Shaw of Kansas City
Kenny Cutler of Kansas City
Jason Wollenberg of Manhattan
Janae Wollenberg of Manhattan
Adam Wollenberg of Manhattan
Anna Wollenberg of Manhattan
Ava Wollenberg of Manhattan
April Huang of Mulvane
Jason Rucker of Mulvane
Yuyune Chine of Wichita
Shi Ho Huang of Mulvane
Fenghui Huang Chao of Mulvane
Susan Pfannenstiel of Ozawkie
Lynne Wheeler of Fort Scott
Stephanie Downs of Topeka
Russ Wilcox of Topeka
Rebekah Wegner of Topeka

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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