Letters to the editor on I/DD care, casino smoking, regulations, Keystone, local pharmacies

05/03/2013 12:00 AM

05/02/2013 5:31 PM

Don’t experiment with I/DD care

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities require various levels of care and supervision in order to function. They require this assistance for their entire lives. Parents are scared to death that changes to the current system of community-based services will disrupt that care. They have good reason to be scared.

KanCare is based on the managed-care concept of capitation – paying someone a fixed amount of money to meet all of a person’s health care needs. KanCare will attempt to expand that concept to the nonmedical services using the same approach. Capitation creates incentives for the managed-care companies to manage costs by reducing service levels in ways that are inappropriate to the care needs of the individual.

Although this risk may be managed by strong state oversight of the managed-care companies, there is no evidence that the use of capitation would create savings sufficient to justify the risks and efforts involved in restructuring the current I/DD service system. This is why many other states have decided to exclude nonmedical services for people with I/DD from their attempts to retool Medicaid. Families are requesting that Kansas not experiment with the lives of their children.



Again on smoking

I knew after reading the April 29 Eagle article about the new “smoke-free” casino that recently opened in Oklahoma that The Eagle editorial board would chime in again about the Kansas casinos. My wait did not take long (“Close smoking loophole,” April 30 Eagle Editorial).

The editorial noted that the state of Kansas spends about $200 million a year in tobacco-related Medicaid costs. Does the editorial board think that if the state banned smoking at our casinos, every smoker in the state would quit smoking?

The editorial also noted that research conducted a few years ago found that the majority of casinos tested exceeded the World Health Organization’s standard for “fine particular matter,” whatever that is. It would be interesting to have the same tests conducted in some of the residential and commercial properties here in Wichita. It might have the same results.

Technology is always evolving. How do the air-filtration systems that were in place during the research mentioned in the editorial compare with the Kansas Star Casino’s new $7 million system? Probably antiquated in comparison.



Regulation needed

President Obama had a tough travel day last week, as he first regaled President Bush at his shrine – I mean presidential library – and then went to West, Texas, to comfort residents after the fertilizer plant explosion. Obama masterfully invoked Scripture, as he had in Boston, and praised the courage and spirit of the people of both cities with passion and soaring language.

I then heard Obama say: “Let me assure you, citizens of West, that I will provide assiduous leadership in investigating why federal agencies neglected to oversee plant operations. Why did plant operators fail to report how much ammonium nitrate was on site? Why in 2011, when it was 270 times more likely for someone to die in a workplace accident than through terrorism, did the Department of Homeland Security receive $47 billion while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was allotted $558 million? I am angry that OSHA had not inspected this plant since 1985. I am angry with corporations cutting costs for safety precautions rather than profits. I will push for meaningful safety regulations.”

No, Obama never said that. I must have dozed off. But it was a wonderful dream.



Future at risk

Regarding “Tax break upheld for builder of pipeline” (April 27 Business Today): Kansas granted $19 million in property-tax exemption to a Canadian company when we can’t fund education for Kansans? When the pipeline will transport tar sands, not crude oil that might be processed in Kansas refineries or benefit Kansas economically? When it will, sooner or later, endanger Kansas’ precious land and water resources? Remember the recent tar sands pipeline rupture that devastated Mayflower, Ark.?

Tar sands is not crude oil as we have known it. Granting a $19 million property-tax exemption for a pipeline to transport a product that poses significant hazards to our state is beyond fiscally unsound.

Allowing the pipeline at all puts Kansas’ economic future at risk. Where are our priorities?



Shop local

An Eagle article featured the news of CVS opening its first store in Wichita, with more to come (April 28 Business Today). It said that the new stores will be good for all Wichitans, even those who do not shop there, because the increased competition will drive down prices.

Unfortunately, the main result will be that it will be harder for locally owned pharmacies to do business.

The mom-and-pop pharmacies have a deeper connection to their patients, know them by name and offer real solutions to problems. They do not promote what their corporate offices several states away tell them to focus on selling.

Please do your community a favor and purchase your prescriptions and over-the-counter products from local pharmacies. That money is funneled back into the community and helps out Wichita in many more ways than the money spent at national chains.



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