Don’t cut access to rehabilitation
Congress soon must address several important issues, one of which is ensuring that Medicare’s payments to physicians are not cut by nearly 25 percent next year. Congress has repeatedly acted to override these cuts – usually by cutting other health care providers and suppliers to “pay for” the cost of not allowing the cuts to occur.
Under the guise of “reform,” some policymakers want to make it more difficult for Medicare beneficiaries who need intensive medical rehabilitation and nursing care that only can be provided in rehabilitation hospitals to access that care, by revisiting the “60 percent rule.” This policy requires hospitals such as ours to treat at least 60 percent of all our patients who have medical diagnoses derived from a list of 13 medical categories, such as strokes, neurological impairments, hip fractures and trauma cases. It is antiquated and quota-based, and can have a rationing effect on patients – yet increasing it to 75 percent would make its effects worse. Shifting seniors away from rehabilitation hospitals simply because their diagnoses are not included on an outdated list of medical conditions is not “reform.”
Thankfully, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, recognizes this and recently signed a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concerns with this idea.
Pompeo’s support is greatly appreciated. There are multiple alternatives available to achieve reform in our health care system, including within the rehabilitation hospital community, but reducing patients’ access to our services simply because of their diagnoses is not one of them.
Chief executive officer
Wesley Rehabilitation Hospital
I agree with the letter writers in the article “Authors: End standardized tests” (Oct. 23 Eagle) that our testing culture is undermining our would-be learning culture. I can see this already in my very smart first-grade grandson, who is not a friend of school right now. One problem not addressed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other responders to this criticism is building administrators. When my grandson was a kindergartner, his principal thought that if the standard was 50 sight words, then 100 sight words would be better. That puts too much pressure on early learners who need to develop a love of learning.
Additionally, principals constantly want formative testing done to check up on progress toward the actual tests. We give pretests as well, to see where students are at the beginning of the year. We have practice tests. This takes away far more than the “one inch” of instructional time referred to by the state deputy education commissioner. Plus, it sets up a testing culture that undermines a true learning culture. I hope to see follow-up articles on this important issue.
Several have suggested that Wichita Mid-Continent Airport be renamed to honor Dwight D. Eisenhower, as one of “our own.” But remember, he was born in Texas. He accomplished many positives, such as masterminding World War II strategy and avid promotion of our interstate highway system. But negatives include rumored marital infidelity during World War II and choosing Richard Nixon as a running mate. If our airport is to be renamed, I would prefer that we promote our area, perhaps with “Sunflower State,” “Wheat State” or “Air Capital.” And although “Mid-Continent” lacks glamour, it is accurate.
LLOYD M. FARNEY
To the older couple in the vintage Ford pickup I saw driving west on Kellogg at 6:30 a.m. on a recent Friday: You made me smile. You have each other, you’re out and about, and you have a beautiful vehicle. As a teenager I owned a ’34 Ford, a gift from my great uncle. How proud I was. Thanks.
PATRICIA GROOM BENJAMIN