The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • A visit from D.C. 

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  •  By Ashley Bergner?Newton Kansan?Pat Roberts recognizes Americans are living in a time of uncertainty. When visiting with voters, the U.S. senator from Kansas often hears concerns about the economy, the drought, changes to the tax code and the direction the government is heading in the future.?However, during a meeting with local business leaders and government officials Tuesday in Newton, Roberts urged Kansans not to give up.?“Don’t despair,” he said. “We’ll be all right. We’ve come through difficult times before.”?Roberts spent about an hour Tuesday morning at the Meridian Center talking with a group of community members about some of their questions and concerns regarding the federal government.?Roberts said when he travels, the issue he hears about most from voters is frustrations with government regulations. He said regulatory reform can be a lengthy and complicated endeavor, but he believes reform does need to happen.?Local businesses said too-strict regulations can hamper their day-to-day operations.?Mickey Fornaro-Dean, executive director of the Harvey County Economic Development Council, said she’s heard from local businesses there seems to be an increase in “surprise visits” from regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.?“It just seems like it’s magnified,” she said.?Local businesses aren’t being cited for serious issues and said they thought the visits were more about filling out paperwork.?Steve Kelly, CEO and president of Newton Medical Center, also brought up concerns about the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program and Medicare “bounty hunters.” Although the RAC program’s original goal was to cut down on fraud and overpayments/underpayments, Kelly said the program has become more about nitpicking numbers and documentation than improving health care. It’s also creating extra expenses for health-care organizations.?“You’re just not paid because you didn’t document it a particular way,” he said.?Roberts said he shared Kelly’s concerns.?“Decisions are being made where it takes the decision-making from the patient and the doctor,” he said. “... It’s just not right.”
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