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Administration Accountability on Obamacare Exchanges
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is egregiously flawed and the
problems it is causing are increasingly frustrating. On Thursday, I demanded accountability from the
Obama Administration by insisting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) answer questions
about its use of taxpayer dollars in setting up the ACA health insurance Exchange website – healthcare.gov
– and the true costs of implementing the Exchanges. I am committed to making certain the Administration
is held accountable for its use of taxpayer dollars, especially considering the systemic problems plaguing
the ACA website, which have been documented in multiple media reports across the country. Over the past
year, $1.7 billion in taxpayer funds have been used by HHS for Exchange implementation. This funding
came exclusively from HHS’ internal transfer of funds to the Exchanges – a decision that
avoided Congressional approval. The Administration must account for exactly how much money has been spent
on developing and implementing healthcare.gov, whether HHS intends to recover payments made to the contractors
responsible for the website’s enormous failings, what specific testing was done before the launch,
and the timeline and detailed cost breakdown for fixing the problems. I also asked HHS for details of
its contingency plans if the technical issues with the Exchanges cannot be fixed in a timely fashion. Click
here to read my letter to
HHS Secretary Sebelius and click
here to read more about this matter.
Additionally, I agreed to be an original sponsor of the “Delay Until Fully Functional
Act,” legislation Senator Marco Rubio introduced today. This bill would delay the ACA’s individual
mandate until it can be certified that the ACA website and Exchanges are functional. It is unfair for
the federal government to punish individuals for not doing something the government is requiring them
to do when the Administration’s incompetence has made it impossible for them to comply. I believe
the entire law should be repealed and replaced, but until that happens American individuals and families
must be protected from the disasters created by the ACA. In July, President Obama acknowledged that a
significant component of this law is broken and delayed enforcement of the employer mandate. The following
week, I offered amendments in the Senate Appropriations Committee to delay both the employer mandate
and individual mandate. Both of these amendments were unfortunately defeated in party-line votes, but
I will continue working to effectively dismantle the ACA.
Proposes Crowdfunding Rule
Monday, along with a bipartisan group of seven U.S. Senators,
I urged the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to finalize proposed regulations regarding crowdfunding.
In April 2012, Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which directed the SEC
to publish crowdfunding provisions within 270 days of enactment. Last week, we reached 530 days since
the JOBS Act became law without the SEC proposing the rule. On Wednesday, the SEC finally responded by
proposing a rule governing crowdfunding activities, and I’m pleased the SEC finally took action.
Crowdfunding has the potential to be a powerful tool for growing the economy by helping small and new
businesses raise capital online so they can expand and create new jobs. I am reviewing the rule and seeking
input from startup businesses and invstors to ensure that entrepreneurs can access the capital they need
to create their businesses while providing proper safeguards for investors. Click
here to see a copy of the
letter sent to the SEC.
Hays Rotary Club
Monday, I joined fellow Rotarians and guests in Hays. I had the opportunity to give remarks and hear
their concerns on a number of issues, including the continuing resolution, debt ceiling, Obamacare, and
expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs. I appreciated their frank feedback and will keep it in mind
as I return to Washington this week. Thank you to Club President Greg Sund and Kay Werth for the warm
welcome, and thank you to Hays Rotary Club for their continued commitment and dedication to the community
of Hays and the goodwill of others. Click
see a photo.
Kansas Serves as Crossroads for Global Aviation Industry
Kansas, we build world-class airplanes and build them well. Today, roughly 32,000 Kansans support more
than 450 aerospace companies and contribute more than $7 billion to our state’s economy each year.
In today’s ever-changing global economy, aviation provides a vital link to economic opportunities
at home and abroad. The quality of our products and suppliers keeps global aviation manufacturers like
Airbus – the largest export customer of the U.S. aerospace industry – coming back to our
Washington, D.C., on Thursday, I had the opportunity to meet with many global suppliers for EADS/Airbus,
including several Kansas companies. Aviation is a global enterprise, but in Kansas, we are proud to serve
as the crossroads of aviation. Over a decade ago, Airbus built its first U.S.-based engineering center
in Wichita because the talent pool of aviation experts is among the brightest in the world. Under the
strong leadership of Vice President of Engineering John O’Leary, Wichita is now home to the largest
Airbus engineering center outside of Europe with more than 400 employees. Kansas engineers are engaged
in the design and development of every member of the Airbus commercial product family – from the
150-seat A320 to the 525-seat A380. In fact, components designed in Wichita are manufactured by members
of the Airbus supply chain all across the globe. In January, I was honored to present the third-ever
Wichita Aero Club Trophy to John O’Leary and Airbus Americas Engineering in recognition of their
efforts to strengthen Wichita’s reputation as the “Air Capital of the World,” and enhance
the local community’s quality of life.
year, Airbus celebrated its 10th anniversary in Kansas and to commemorate this milestone, I hosted the
Airbus Air Capital Supplier Summit with Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor to help facilitate more
business for Kansas suppliers. In the last five years, Airbus has spent $300 million with Wichita suppliers
and the company is set to double its American investment over the next 10 years. I will continue my efforts
to make certain our Kansas suppliers remain strong competitors. Thanks to Chairman McArtor for the invitation
to join him at the conference this week. We look forward to continuing a strong relationship with the
Airbus team for the next 10 years and beyond. Click
here to see a photo.
About Rural Broadband Access
I visited Tri-County Telecom Association (TCT) in Council Grove
last week. We discussed a number of concerns regarding Rural Utilities Service loans as well as new telecommunications
federal policies and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. TCT provides infrastructure
to make certain businesses, schools and hospitals can compete with urban areas. I will continue to work
to ensure the FCC knows the unique challenges rural telecommunications providers face. Thanks to TCT’s
Angie Schwerdfeger for the invitation and for coordinating my visit.
on the Business Climate
Last week, I visited businesses in Great Bend, Holton and Atchison
to check on the business climate in Kansas. As ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing,
Transportation and Community Development, these conversations will help me as I work to protect jobs,
grow the economy and eliminate bureaucratic red tape in Washington.
I visited the Fuller Industries in Great Bend. The company is a good example of community members working
with their local Chamber and coming together to make certain jobs remain in the place that they call
home. It was helpful to see the plant and visit with employees to learn more about how government agencies
and regulation impact the operation. Thanks to Fuller President and CEO Brady Gros, investors Rick Ball
and Norbert Schneider, and Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters for the invitation and
here to see a photo.
In Holton, I toured downtown and enjoyed visiting with several small
business owners and hearing their concerns. Our conversations covered banking regulations, Obamacare,
access to quality health care, and the uncertainty caused by the shutdown. Some of the businesses I visited
were Hot Spot Coffee Shop, Denison State Bank, Ann’s Home Health, Jhett’s Pizza and Quilting
on the Square. Mark and Mary Pfeiler’s quilt shop, Quilting on the Square, opened in April 2005
and proudly represents Holton and the state of Kansas as a 2013 Better Homes and Gardens Top 10 Quilt
Shop in North America. Thanks to Jamie Claycamp and Michael Carlson with the Holton/Jackson County Chamber
of Commerce for arranging my visit. Click
here to see a photo.
also toured the Bradken Industrial Products in Atchison. For 141 years, production has taken place at
the facility which was started by a Civil War veteran who was given $10,000 and free land along the Missouri
River. In the foundry, they manufacture engineered steel castings for the rail, transit, mining and construction
markets. Thanks to Kevin McDermed, President of the Engineered Products Division, and Mike Funk, Plant
Manager, for providing me an informational tour. Click
here to see a photo from the stop.
in on Health Care
As Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee,
which has jurisdiction over funding for most agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services that impact hospitals and other health care providers, meeting with Kansas hospital administrators
and other providers gives me insight on the unique challenges they face caring for diverse groups of
patients across wide areas.
I stopped at Horton Community Hospital and visited with member of the community, hospital staff and officers
from Rural Community Hospitals of America. We discussed the impact of Obamacare on Critical Access Hospitals
and rural communities. In addition, I had the opportunity to receive an update from Mayor Tim Lentz and
Superintendent Steve Davies. Thanks to Horton Community Hospital CEO Chris Barlow for the invitation
to visit. Click
here to see a photo.
also toured Newman Regional Health (NRH) in Emporia and learned about their efforts to achieve designation
as a critical-access facility. During my visit, I stopped by the imaging services department, the emergency
department, the new heart catheterization lab, and the parenting center. NRH has a great team working
to provide quality health care services right here in Lyon County. Thanks to Interim CEO John Rossfeld,
Director of Marketing Beth Hammond, Board Treasurer Bill Barnes, Board Member John Kuhn, and State Representative
Don Hill for the great visit.
County Elementary School – Strong City
On Wednesday, I visited Chase Co. Elementary School (CCES) in
Strong City. Principal David Warner and USD 284 Superintendent Jeff Kohlman explained how they are meeting
Kansas Common Core standards – in part through the school’s outdoor learning center.
CCES students of all ages are involved in the program, which includes greenhouse activities, rainwater
collection, composting and caring for livestock. In addition to the responsibility that comes with these
activities, students are learning the hands-on life applications of math skills, science and business
training. During my visit, I stopped by Ms. Luder’s Kindergarten class, where students carved pumpkins
as part of their “Pumpkin Investigation” lesson.
I was particularly impressed to learn how supportive the community
is of the program, and how contributions of both time and materials have been provided to compensate
for their limited budget. Thanks to Mr. Warner and Mr. Kohlman for my tour, along with Ms. Matile and
Ms. Luder for sharing their time with me. Thank you also to USD 284 Board Chairman Mike Spinden, board
members and students who accompanied me and made this visit so welcoming. Here is
a picture from my visit.
Now Accepting Applications for Spring 2014 Internships
Congressional internships are a great way for Kansas students
to learn about Congress and gain professional work experience. Having worked as a congressional intern
myself, I know what a valuable experience it can be. Interns will gain a better understanding of the
legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop knowledge and professional skills valuable to future
career pursuits. I encourage anyone with an interest in government and public service to apply.
My office is now accepting applications for the spring semester.
Completed applications must include a resume, cover letter, academic transcript and two letters of recommendation,
and all parts must be submitted for consideration by November 1, 2013. Please visit the internship
page on my website to apply or email xxx if
you have any questions.
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office,
including the Kansans listed below:
John Matta of Manhattan
Rich Jankovich of Manhattan
Lyle Butler of Manhattan
Ron Fehr of Manhattan
Art DeGroat of Manhattan
Janet Nichols of Manhattan
Christine Benue of Manhattan
Robert Boyd of Manhattan
Fred Willick of Manhattan
Richard Crowley of Manhattan
Delegation Junction City
Tom Brunsandy of Milford
Cecil Aska of Junction City
Mike Ryan of Junction City
Rick Duksta of Junction City
Tom Weigard of Junction City
Cheryl Beatty of Junction City
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Jeannie Davis of Andover
Timothy Johnson of Wichita
Kurtis Holtz of Augusta
Andi Rae Petersen of Derby
Andrew Rameriz of Wichita
Richard Greene of Wichita
Bill Sproul of Sedan
Jim Grocholski of Wichita
Marty Dernier of Topeka
C. Dean Benton of Hutchinson
Nikki Schwantze of Kansas City
Health Care Association
Cindy Luxem of Topeka
Don and Gayle Bartel of Potwin
Teri Shaughnessy of Humboldt
Terry Meadows of Humboldt
Staci Wiatrak of St. Paul
Roger Eisentrager of Lenexa
Julie Eisentrager of Lenexa
Zach Eisentrager of Lenexa
Haylee Eisentrager of Lenexa
John Cecil of Leawood
Mark Paul of Overland Park
Janelle Paul of Overland Park
Carson Paul of Overland Park
Sidney Paul of Overland Park
James Novak of Overland Park
Nicole Novak of Overland Park
Mallory Novak of Overland Park
Charlotte Novak of Overland Park
to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to
the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues
our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter,
a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking
here. You can also click
here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or
my Washington, D.C., office.