Our Kansas U.S. Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran and Representatives Roger Marshall and Steve Watkins, all Republicans, have been completely derelict in their most important function: maintaining the fiscal solvency of the United States.

Economist than Alan Greenspan has warned of the looming chaos as our national debt rises to unsustainable levels. Under President Trump the national debt is over $22 trillion. This is totally unacceptable. Over the next decade it is estimated that the total interest alone will be over $7 trillion.

We are in real danger of becoming another Venezuela. Congress has to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Our representatives are interested only in election survival and kowtowing to the special corporate interests. Let me be clear. I am a fiscally conservative Republican, and have contributed to Kansas campaigns. But it is time for a change.

We must acknowledge an ever-increasing income disparity between most of us average Americans and the rich and the super rich. America’s biggest companies, including Amazon, Delta Air Lines, Gannett and Netflix, paid no federal income tax in 2018 on total profits of $79 billion earned in 2018. Maybe there are too many corporate tax avoidance loopholes.

I conducted a small informal survey on tax rate changes among both Democrats and Republicans representing former university professors and business leaders and “they all agree” that Congress should act and pass legislation for the fiscal health of the United States.

Lawmakers need to address Social Security reform. Currently, all taxpayers at the low end of the income scale are paying their half of a disproportional Social Security (6.2%) and Medicare tax (1.45%). Why cap the taxable income amount at $132,900? Why not increase the cap to $1 million?

Will lawmakers support reducing our annual deficit and national debt? Many of us believe it is very important for the future stability of the United States. They need to act before it is too late.

Via Christi ‘can and should do better than what this one snapshot depicts’

Several weeks ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, using a newly revised system, released its first hospital quality rating since December 2017.

Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan had a two-star overall rating in the survey, which includes only data pertaining to Medicare patients, from 2014-2018 depending on the indicator.

We agree that we can and should do better than what this one snapshot in time depicts. That’s why we are constantly reviewing data pertaining to patient safety, outcomes and experience to see where our efforts to continually improve in all three categories are working and where more effort is needed.

We are committed to achieving excellence in our overall quality of care are making great strides. In addition to the information reported in our local newspaper, we’d like you to know that:

• In March, four Joint Commission surveyors were onsite for a four-day accreditation survey, after which we received extremely positive feedback about our quality and patient safety processes and results. As a reminder, accreditation by The Joint Commission is the gold standard for verifying medical standards and quality in terms of service and care. A final written report is expected in the coming weeks.

• Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has designated our hospital a Blue Distinction Plus facility for maternity care, a list that includes only 20 Kansas hospitals.

• We’ve also received multiple accreditations and accolades from professional organizations including the American College of Radiology, Becker’s Healthcare and the American Diabetes Association.

• There were numerous individual areas in the survey where our hospital was on par with or even outperformed state and national averages, such as appropriate care for sepsis, the leading cause of hospital deaths nationwide. We were at 77% as compared to the 50% national average, thanks to a concentrated focus by Ascension hospital ministries across the country.

• We are investing close to $5 million in facility improvements to further enhance the care we offer our community and grow our services to keep our neighbors, family and friends close to home for their care. Those include replacing boiler/cooling systems, upgrades to our telecommunications and IT systems, adding a new cardiac catherization and diagnostic imaging lab, cardiac rehab gym and in the past 18 months, purchased two new surgical robots and new therapy and rehabilitation equipment to help patients get back to their lives quicker.

• Although achieving a five-star rating is an accomplishment worth recognizing, comparing the rating of a full-service community hospital that offers a full range of services to a specialty surgical hospital is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

We are here 24/7 to care for all members of our community, both those with the resources to pay for their treatment and those who do not. Private, for-profit specialty hospitals offer a narrow range of surgical care provided to a select group of patients during select hours of operation.

• Each year, we provide a significant amount of community benefit (including charity care, free services and patient assistance) — approximately $7 million last fiscal year — to our community’s most vulnerable. That’s because it is our mission, along with that of our other Ascension colleagues across the country, to ensure access to quality care as close to home as possible.

• We are open to hearing our community members’ thoughts and concerns and encourage patients and families to let their nurse, nursing unit supervisor or a member of the leadership team know of any issues so they can be addressed at the time.

In conclusion, we’re proud of our nearly 500 associates and 120-plus-member medical staff and their commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring access to safe, quality care provided in a compassionate manner. We think our community should be, too.

Bob Copple, president

Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan

Arthur F. Loub

1517 Williamsburg Drive

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