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Tour gives Moran insight to medical care

12/6/2013

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., toured Hays Medical Center on Thursday to survey its operations and gain insight into the field from the staff.

Hospital administrators led the senator through the breast care center, the labor/delivery and neonatal intensive care unit, and the outpatient cancer facility for radiation and medical therapy. The final department is under construction to renovate and expand the waiting room and treatment areas.

Topics raised along Moran's route included the state of infant care in Kansas, new cancer treatment technology, the facility's growth, staffing enough medical professionals and changes in the health care industry.

Moran said he sought to learn more about HaysMed and how he can use his position to benefit area hospitals.

"I know this hospital, but so many things are changing, so many advancements, so many new developments, that I want to make sure I knew how health care was being delivered here," he said.

The Affordable Care Act is among the changes. It could have unintended consequences such as customers losing their policies and preferred doctors and paying higher fees.

"I think one of the problems with the Affordable Care Act is that it's this huge grasp of trying to do everything all at once, and Congress, the president and the federal government don't do many things well," Moran said.

"Common sense" suggests the federal government should fix other health care issues before overhauling the entire system. Means-testing Medicare applicants, evaluating the program's age eligibility and addressing bureaucracy and lack of funds within it and Medicaid are pressing concerns.

Obama's signature legislation cannot be adjusted piecemeal.

"I'm of the belief you got to get rid of the underlying law ... the Affordable Care Act is beyond just tinkering," Moran said. "So it needs to be replaced with what I would call commonsense, step-by-step solutions addressing the problem with health care in an understandable way."

With the influx of newly insured patients next year, a shortage of health care practitioners looms on the horizon.

"One of the things we ought to do, in my view, to improve the health care delivery system is educate and train more physicians, more health care providers, more mid-levels to meet people's needs," he said.

Dr. John Jeter, president and chief executive officer, said Moran is one of the most knowledgeable members of Congress on health care because he was the representative for Kansas's First Congressional District for several years. The area has more hospitals in it than any other district in the nation.

"He's been a great champion for rural health care on Capitol Hill," Jeter said.

A "tidal wave of change" coming from the state and federal governments is the challenge facing HaysMed and other hospitals, Moran said. A cut in Medicare reimbursement two years ago was the first ripple felt from the Affordable Care Act.

KanCare, Kansas' privatized Medicaid program, has "been a tremendous problem for some areas of the state" because of delayed payments to hospitals.

The senator voiced confidence in the hospital at the end of his visit.

"The idea you can access the kinds of things that we saw today should be very reassuring to people who decided to live their lives in western Kansas," Moran said.