Medicare cuts risky for dialysis patients
As a dialysis professional, I have oversight for some of the sickest patients in our community. That’s why I’m worried about budget cuts announced on July 1. The severe Medicare cuts could reduce dialysis services and force clinic closures at a time when kidney disease is escalating. It’s heartbreaking and unjust to make critically ill people accept reduced care or travel longer distances for lifesaving dialysis.
Kidney disease affects 1 in 7 Americans and is the eighth-leading cause of U.S. death. As the disease progresses to kidney failure, individuals must seek transplantation (which is uncommon) or go for dialysis three times a week to stay alive. There are more than 4,000 state residents with kidney failure, an increase of 15 percent since 2005.
Dialysis is a lifeline to survival, so Medicare covers the cost of dialysis, regardless of age. Ninety percent of our patients are Medicare beneficiaries. Dialysis providers know that fiscal challenges require doing more with less. We recently adopted cost-effective payment system changes, but new Medicare cuts could undermine this progress. Congress must protect people with kidney failure. My chronically ill patients need access to lifesaving dialysis care.
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Director of operations
South Kansas area
Fresenius Medical Care
Can get married
I have good news for those who think gay marriage should be legal: It is legal in all 50 states. What that means is that if two gay people want to be married, they can go to a minister in any state and, if that person is willing, have a marriage ceremony.
The state government may not recognize it. Their parents, friends, neighbors or employers may not recognize it. But if they want to think so, they are as married as they want to be.
The state of Kansas does not recognize gay marriage, but one church I attended in Wichita has regularly performed gay marriages for people of both sexes for decades.
I called the headquarters of two major U.S. denominations. Both said they perform gay marriages, and that they were legal in all states since the establishment of the Constitution.
Columnist Cal Thomas wrote: “The problem for people who believe in an Authority higher even than the Constitution is that in our increasingly secular and indifferent society it has become more difficult to persuade those who do not subscribe to an immutable standard to accept that view” (“Marriage ruling removed another standard,” July 3 Opinion).
What? Isn’t he someone who consistently argues that the “left” doesn’t believe in the Constitution like he does? Is he saying the Constitution should be ignored when it contrasts with the “immutable standard” of his concept of God, and that it is becoming problematic to “persuade” those who do not believe in his concept of God to ignore the Constitution at such times?
The Constitution specifically and clearly protects Thomas from having the government (or me) tell him he cannot believe whatever he believes about God. But it also protects me from having the government or Thomas or anyone else tell me I must accept his concept of God.
My belief in the Constitution is not inconsistent with my belief in God. And “secular” and “indifferent” are not synonyms.
Ashamed of U.S.
If there was any doubt, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage should make it clear that we are not a democracy. It is anything but democratic for five people in Washington, D.C., who were not elected by the people and will not stand for election to strike down a democratically initiated and approved law in California.
Then consider how absurd, bordering on insane, the rationale was for such a ruling. Virtually all religions and all of history recognize the existence and rejection of this activity or “lifestyle,” but not this court.
In the past we have had incompetent presidents, foolish vice presidents and out-of-control attorneys general, plus other unpopular Cabinet appointees. But they were never as bad as each and every member of this administration.
I was shocked when I heard Michelle Obama’s comment during the 2008 presidential campaign about how for the first time in her adult life she was proud of her country, and the belief expressed by the Obama family mentor and pastor that God should destroy America. Now, this is the first time I can say I’m truly ashamed of our country and sorry that nine family members, several with permanent injuries, served a country that has allowed this leadership.
Don’t cut off
Attention, all drivers: “Yield” means “yield.” If I can’t move over because of the traffic on Kellogg (or any other street), don’t cut me off or honk or flip me off. It’s not my fault. It would be yours if we meet by “accident.”
Turn signals work on all vehicles unless they are antiques. And if no one is behind me for blocks, don’t cut me off. Wait. Patience is a virtue. And polite.
Go back to driver’s ed, and think. Next time someone might get killed because of your carelessness.
And get off the cellphone, please.
My life is just as important as yours. Slow down.