Monday, October 20, 2014

Moran promotes rural US

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 8/20/2014

Rural America is not understood in Washington D.C., U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran told a crowd Wednesday morning during his Ottawa visit as part of his Listening Tour.

“There are policies and people who don’t think about us,” Moran said. “Rural America is something people don’t think about.”

Rural America is not understood in Washington D.C., U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran told a crowd Wednesday morning during his Ottawa visit as part of his Listening Tour.

“There are policies and people who don’t think about us,” Moran said. “Rural America is something people don’t think about.”

Moran told constituents that problems in the country aren’t being solved because of the partisan gridlock in Washington. Residents filled the city commission chamber at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa, to hear Moran speak.

Moran said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told him when he joined the Senate that the chamber would not do anything until after the 2012 election. Two years later, Congress still has not done anything, Moran said.

“If we couldn’t resolve differences and nothing was getting done, that would be one thing, but to actually plan to do nothing is very troublesome to me,” Moran said mentioning that Reid is protecting Democrat senators from losing elections by being attached to Pres. Obama’s policies.

One of the issues held up by the gridlock that affect Kansans relating to rural America includes a bill that will redefine which waters can be regulated in the U.S., Moran said, which he believes will receive Democrat support.

Moran said the EPA has proposed new rules to redefine what waters are in the U.S., which the Environmental Protection Agency is entitled to regulate. He said the EPA says that any water that is “navigable” should be regulated.

“That’s every drop of rainfall, any place, any time, anywhere,” Moran said noting that Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, said the regulations wouldn’t have any affect on the agricultural practices. “I didn’t find any farmers who found that believable.”

Creating the regulation, even if the EPA says they won’t enforce it, will eventually find an activist group to sue the EPA for not enforcing its regulations, Moran said.

“It sets the stage for even more federal involvement,” Moran said.

Water is a real issue for Kansans, but how the regulations are created should be made through a local way, he said.

VETERAN AFFAIRS

Responding from a question from Linda Reed, Ottawa mayor, regarding the Veteran’s Affairs hospitals that have made headlines in recent months for delays of treatment to war veterans throughout the country, but also in Topeka and Wichita, Moran said the system worked well several years ago and was always working to fix the issues the system faced. But sometime in the last few years, the program couldn’t find ways to fix its problems.

“It’s only in the last several years that the VA shrugged its shoulders and didn’t know what to do,” Moran said. “We’ve had a lot of challenges in the VA for a long period of time, but always before I had a sense that the VA was working to solve them. And over the last several years it seems like the problems have become so big and they don’t know what to do and nothing happens. Just kind of ignoring them.”

Moran has never asked for the resignation of a cabinet secretary before, but did call for the resignation of Eric Shinseki, former VA Secretary, he said. Shinseki said he put too much faith into the top level people of the department who were reporting different findings than Moran was hearing back in Kansas, Moran said.

“I’m a supporter of the VA and its ability to provide services at hospitals that exist today in our state in Topeka, Leavenworth, Wichita and Kansas City,” Moran said. “But we also need to find ways in which we can provide better quality and faster care.”

One of the successes Congress has had, although it frequently does nothing, Moran said, was to allow the VA to have the necessary resources to do its job better. He mentioned a bill would make access to medical care easier for a veteran who lives 40 or more miles away from a VA hospital because they could receive care from any medical provider that is a Medicare certified provider. He said veterans who do not receive care between 14-30 days, they will be offered the same benefit of receiving care from any Medicare certified provider.

A man in Western Kansas told Moran that he just needed his glasses adjusted and the VA in Wichita told him he had to drive to Wichita to see an optometrist, Moran said. By allowing veterans to see local certified providers makes the system more efficient and could save money, he said.

“The VA pays mileage too for some one to get to Wichita, we would save money by having him see his optometrist at home,” Moran said.

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