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Kansas representative Moran says health care is No. 1 issue

8/8/2007

By MARY CLARKIN

By MARY CLARKIN

The Hutchinson News

Health care -- its accessibility and affordability -- is the No. 1 domestic issue facing the country, in the opinion of U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

With Congress in its August recess, Moran visited Hutchinson on Monday to address the Hutchinson Rotary Club and attend the ribbon-cutting at the new home for PrairieStar Health Center.

The community health center serves the uninsured and underinsured. It acquired more space in July, as a result of its move to remodeled quarters at the Trade Center, 1600 North Lorraine.

This spring, PrairieStar obtained the coveted federally qualified health center designation, which will bring more than $500,000 in annual support.

That will reduce PrairieStar's financial reliance on Hutchinson Hospital corporate network, which had given more than $6 million to PrairieStar since its inception in the early 1990s, according to PrairieStar executive director Sally Tesluk.

Tesluk handed out kudos to Moran and Hutchinson Hospital's president Gene Schmidt, but they redirected the praise to the PrairieStar staff.

Moran, a Hays resident, said his congressional district contains 75 hospitals -- more hospitals than any other district in the country. Community health centers such as PrairieStar give the uninsured a better alternative than the hospital emergency room for receiving care.

On another health-related topic, Moran expressed concern about the adverse effect on small-town pharmacists because of approaching changes in reimbursements for drugs for Medicaid patients.

Moran, along with other Kansans serving in Congress, is trying to prevent reimbursements from falling below pharmacists' costs.