Archive for August 5, 2012
These days there is a lot of talk about improving health care nationwide. In Iowa, it’s not just talk. We’ve taken big steps toward making sure all Iowans have access to the best possible health care.
This year in the Legislature, we kept Iowa moving forward by:
• Attracting more doctors to rural Iowa. We’re helping medical students repay their student loans when they practice in areas of the state that need more doctors (HF 2458).
• Reforming Iowa’s mental health system. This is a major undertaking that will ensure all Iowans get high-quality mental health care regardless of where they live (SF 2315).
• Ensuring your treatment preferences are respected by making them part of a medical order that healthcare providers can rely on (HF 2165).
• Helping seniors live independently and safely through community based services and less dependence on institutional care (SF2336).
• Making sure Iowa’s nursing homes are safe (SF 2316).
• Establishing statewide standards so that Iowans, including returning soldiers, who need prosthetics and orthotics get top-quality products and services (SF 364).
• Supporting local health care services to make Iowa a healthier place, help Iowans quit smoking and provide low-income Iowans with access to preventive health screenings (SF2336).
There is still plenty to do, especially when it comes to reducing the high cost of health care and health insurance. Many working Iowans have no health insurance, making them reluctant to see a doctor until they’re desperate enough to go to the emergency room. That’s expensive and doesn’t produce the best results.
When uninsured Iowans can’t pay their medical bills, the price of everyone’s health care goes up to cover the unpaid expenses. A study by the Iowa Hospital Association found that uncompensated care cost Iowa hospitals—and ultimately you and me—more than $851 million in 2010.
If we want to keep the cost of health care in check, we must keep working on solutions. Thank goodness Iowa health care providers, business leaders and consumer advocates have been proactive in solving our state’s challenges over the years. By working together, Iowa can continue leading the nation on the health care front.
New funding for SE Iowa airport
The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved funding for the State Aviation Program, which seeks to maintain a safe air transportation system statewide. Funding will go to improve local airports from aircraft registration fees, aviation fuel taxes and with dollars from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund.
The Burlington–Southeast Iowa Regional Airport was awarded $94,903 to replace a 70-year-old hangar. For more on aviation in Iowa, visit www.iowadot.gov/aviation.
Improving Iowa’s Mental Health and Disability Services
A major step in our efforts to improve health care in Iowan came this year when we approved a sweeping overhaul of how our state provides mental health and disability services to Iowans who need them. It was a bipartisan effort, with legislators working together and taking suggestions from consumers, health care providers and other concerned Iowans on how to best organize the new system.
The redesigned Mental Health and Disability Services system will provide Iowans better access to mental health services through a regional system, rather than the county system that is currently in place. Senate File 2315 creates a new structure in which the state sets standards and designates regions to administer the services, which will be provided in local communities. This arrangement will save money, eliminate administrative duplication and offer consistency in both rural and urban counties.
Thanks to this redesigned system, more Iowans will get high-quality services, whether they live in rural or urban Iowa.
What do federal health care changes mean for Iowa?
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal Affordable Care Act. This federal initiative has already helped thousands of Iowans by expanding access to health care, lowering costs and increasing preventative care. This includes:
• Helping Iowans with pre-existing conditions get coverage.
• Ensuring Iowans no longer have lifetime caps on health insurance policies.
• Providing Iowans with preventative health services without co-pays. This includes well-child visits, cancer screenings and immunizations.
• Allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy up to age 26.
• Saving Iowa seniors on Medicare thousands on prescription drugs.
Federal efforts could also expand Medicaid coverage to more than 80,000 additional Iowans, many of whom work fulltime. This will lower health care costs for everyone by ensuring more Iowans are able to get regular checkups and preventive care, rather than relying on expensive emergency room visits.
With the federal commitment to pay for almost all of the cost, Iowans might save as much as $316 million annually if we participate in the Medicaid Expansion offered under federal health care reform, according to the non-partisan Urban Institute.
Rural Iowa needs more doctors
Having a primary care doctor in your community can save lives, save money and improve everyone’s quality of life. But in some rural parts of our state, we have a critical shortage of doctors.
When students get done with medical school, their first priority is often paying off tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The higher pay they often can earn in urban areas is an attractive lure. They may not even consider practicing medicine in small towns and rural areas.
We addressed that problem this year by creating the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program (HF 2458). This state and local partnership will help new doctors repay their student loans, provided they agree to work in rural Iowa for at least five years.
It’s just one more way we’re helping all Iowans get the health care they need, no matter where they live.
News you can use
Sales tax holiday, Aug. 3-4
The new school year is rapidly approaching. You can make your money go farther for your kids’ school clothes when you take advantage of Iowa’s annual sales tax holiday on Friday, August 3, and Saturday, August 4.
You’ll pay no sales tax on any clothing or footwear item under $100 at any business that is open during these two days. Items put in layaway are not taxable no matter when you pay them off. Items already in layaway that are paid off during the tax-free weekend are also tax exempt.
For more information, go to www.iowa.gov/tax/educate/holiday1.html.
Emergency grazing due to drought
In response to high temperatures and drought, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is authorizing emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. So far, emergency grazing has been authorized for 25 counties and more counties are expected to be added to the list.
Livestock producers interested in grazing CRP land must get approval. For more information and the latest updates on counties approved for emergency grazing, contact your local FSA office or go to www.fsa.usda.gov/ia.
Protect yourself from whooping cough
The Iowa Department of Public Health is urging Iowa adults to talk to their health care provider about getting vaccinated for pertussis, or whooping cough.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whooping cough is causing the worst epidemic in the U.S. in more than 50 years. Iowa is among the states seeing a spread of pertussis, with cases nearly 500 percent higher than last year at this time.
The most common symptoms of pertussis in children are fits of coughing, followed by vomiting, a ‘whooping’ sound as air is inhaled, and difficulty sleeping. Adults, however, may experience only a lingering cough that lasts for weeks. Many adults may be contagious without even realizing they have pertussis.
For more information about pertussis, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/default.aspx?group=3#DI.
New online mobile Iowa jobs site
Iowa Workforce Development’s statewide job bank is now available 24/7 in a mobile version at http://workiniowa.jobs. Job opportunities can be searched by city, employer name and key word. The site only lists available jobs from employers verified by Iowa Workforce Development, so you can be sure you’re searching legitimate job openings.
Des Moines, IA 50319
2609 Clearview Drive
Burlington, IA 52601
Last week Romney said that culture was the difference between the per capita GDP of Palestinian people and Israelis. Based on that logic, then mostly republican states in the US share that same issue.
ALEC Exposure Becoming Toxic to Corporations.
Based on the meeting brochure from Salt Lake City last week, association with ALEC is becoming toxic to corporations. Hopefully it will also become toxic among politicians. But of course the monied interests will not rest. They will resurface, no doubt in an uglier form next time. They need to be watched as if our democracy depends on it. It does.
Romney’s Plan cuts His Own Taxes
This should come as no surprise. The Romney/Ryan tax plan raises taxes for all but the very, very rich. They will get a little more to trickle on us with. Do you like being trickled on? Feels like second hand beer to me.
But the real question in all this is: If you pay no taxes now, Mitt, how much more can they be cut? Or should we pay you for existing?
Speaking of Romney’s taxes
It is beginning to look like Romney’s taxes will reveal that he either hasn’t paid any taxes for years or that he has claimed one state residency (Utah) while voting illegally in another (Mass.) or both. I see this as a win-win. Thank goodness the Republicans are getting all over this illegal voting thing. Start with Romney and then check out Ann Coulter.
Hats Off To Harkin
August 1, the portion of the ACA that covers many women’s issues went into effect. One of the major pushers behind these sections was our own Tom Harkin. Along with this Harkin has been working hard to expose the threat to our future posed by the fake post-secondary education industry and the future harm that the massive unpardonable debt students are rolling up is doing. Hopefully there will be a democratic congress in the future where Harkin can fix this situation. Now these special interests are protected by Republican shields in both houses. (video with Al Sharpton here )
Off-Shore Banking and Romney.
If there is one thing that says too me “I ain’t one of you” it is the person that hides their money in foreign banks so they do not have to pay taxes. They may live in the US, but their allegiance is not to the US but to their own bottom line. Exhibit 1: Mitt Romney. He may live here, heck he has homes all over the place, but his allegiance is to his money. If he must make a decision between his country and his money as president, I have no doubt he chooses his money and damn the country. Essentially, he has already done that and his choice is pretty clear. So clear that he is ashamed and fearful to show it.
A Little Campaign Slogan For Tim Pawlenty
I am fully expecting Mr. Excitement to be the Tax Dodger’s running mate. So I have commissioned myself to create a little ditty for our neighboring state’s former governor (note to Pawlenty: please stay there we already have enough nuts). Here we go: (to the tune of “London Bridge is FallingDown”)
St. Paul Bridge is falling down,
falling down, falling down
St. Paul Bridge is falling down
Blame Tim Pawlenty!
I hope he likes it.
Why do Republicans oppose birth control if they want to stop abortions?
If you want to stop abortions the logical first step would be to slow down unwanted pregnancies. Makes sense to me.
And while we are at it, if they are so pro life, why do they work so hard to make life so miserable for all but the rich. We have enough resources in this country that everyone could easily have a reasonable standard of living. Even Dick Nixon tlked of a minimum annual income for all.
Come November, Women Will Remember.
The Olympic are in full swing. Michael Phelps is swimming, Rafalca is dancing and Mitt Romney has his hand out for money. What could be more thrilling than the pageantry and power of the Olympics and the pandering and gaffes of America’s worst tourist ever. Well in the interest of keeping my energy from being sapped any more by the non-existent global warming’s 4th straight week of record heat, I will combine the two in one quiz. If I seem a bit silly blame the non-existent heat.
Where is the famous London Bridge of the nursery rhyme located?
a) London, England
b) Glasgow, Scotland
c) Lake Havasu City, Arizona
d) Paris, France
2) The London Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA – city and dependent suburbs) ranks what in Europe?
a) first – it is the largest
b) Second behind Paris
c) Third behind Paris and istanbul
d) surprisingly it is only the tenth largest region in Europe.
3) Mitt Romney did something quite unusual in London. What?
a) met with the head of state.
b) held a campaign fundraiser on foreign soil.
c) visited London Tower.
d) Wondered where all of the foreigners came from.
4) Romney seemed to be quite excited by Rafalca in the Olympics. So excited he said he would:
a) take a practice run through with him.
b) Watch every practice
c) sneak the horse some treats
d) not even bother to watch the performance
5) In Israel, Romney:
a) threatened war with Iran
b) praised Israel’s socialized health care system that he is so against here.
c) stated the Palestinians were hampered by their culture.
d) All this plus scheduled a fundraising dinner on a Jewish day of fasting.
6) You are Mitt Romney and you want to buy a fixer-upper in London. Buckingham Palace has gone up for sale. What is the asking price?
a) @ $500,000,000
b) @ $1,000,000,000
c) @ $2,500,000,000
d) @ $5,000,000,000
7) Rick Gorka, a Romney aid, asked a reporter to sneak a kiss. Where?
a) in Poland
b) at a war memorial
c) on his ass
d) in the back of the limo.
8) In 2000, London elected its first mayor. His name was Ken Livingstone, but he was better known by a colorful name. What
a) “Red” Ken because he was so far left.
b) “Yellow” Ken because he avoided military service.
c) “White” Ken because he was extrmely conservative.
d) “Blue” Ken because his public pronouncements were often downers
9) Romney was greeted with shouts of ________________________ in Poland
a) “Solidarność” (“solidarity” in Polish)
b) “Go Home”
d) “Walesa” (the leader of the union that broke communism)
10) the United Kingdom refers to:
b) England and Scotland
c) England, Scotland and Wales
d) England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Summertime sometimes makes me silly. Romney is that way all the time. I am often amazed that news readers don’t dress in clown suits when they cover his campaign. But if he gets elected it will be a bad joke on America.
Here are some Answers:
1) c) That bridge was moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona in the 1970s
2) a) It is the largest SMSA in Europe and 311 in the world at about 12,000,000 people, with Paris and Istanbul close behind
3) b) he may have met a head of state, but that is not unusual. I believe he is the first presidential candidate to hold a fundraiser on foreign soil.
4) d) He said he didn’t know when Rafalca would perform, nor would he watch. Rafalca’s next stop: Dancing With the Stars as Bristol Palin’s partner.
5) d) A full Romney – threatened war, made unreal comments, insulted two peoples in different ways. Honing his diplomatic skills.
6) c) @ $2.5 Bn.
7) c) is the most correct answer although a & b were also correct. One could guess that had the request been fulfilled it would have been in d
8) a) “Red” Ken to imply he was a communist. Also called “Ken Leninstone” by the press.
9) c) “Obama” – maybe they have eyesight problems
10) d) all four, although Scotland has a vote for independence scheduled for Autumn of 2014.
Well that was fun. If Mitt can keep up the pace, the Sunday Fundays may continue to carry some of his comedy stylings.