Tour stop talk

Jerry Moran emphasizes his point during the junior senator?s annual tour stop in Marion County. About 60 people came to listen and ask questions of the first-term senator in the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center on the Tabor College campus.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran highlighted health-care options for military veterans, responded to questions about current legislation and sympathized with more than a few voters who expressed frustration with ?the political leadership in Wash?ing?ton, D.C., during his town hall meeting Wed?nes?day in Marion County.

The gathering, part of the senator?s annual tour of the state?s 105 counties, drew about 60 people to the Wohl?gemuth Edu?cation Center on the Tabor College campus in Hillsboro.

In the final year of his first term as the state?s junior senator, Moran opened the session on a familiar topic: enhancing health-care for military veterans.

?I think the Veterans Administration in many instances is failing to care for those who are entitled, who are worthy of the benefits that were promised them,? he said.

Moran said the so-called ?Choice Act,? passed last year by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, is an effort to make health-care locally accessible.

?It says if you are a veteran who lives more than 40 miles from a VA facility, or it takes the VA more than 30 days to provide services to you, you have the option to have those services be provided at home and the bills paid for at Medicare rates by the VA,? he said.

Moran said the bill also should benefit another of his priority causes: rural hospitals in Kansas.

?Just like our schools need every student in our schools, our hospitals need every patient,? he said. ?Sending people away for health care is damaging to the health-care infrastructure of your community.

?This is an opportunity to have your hospitals and your physicians care for veterans in their home town and your community while strengthening the health-care system that all of us rely on at home.?

On a related health-care issue, Moran addressed the concern of one voter about challenges hometown pharmacies face as they compete against price discounts and mail-order services offered by large drug companies and big stores.

?It?s human nature that you?d still like to have the advice of your local pharmacist, but you?re buying your prescriptions someplace else,? Moran said. ?As a result of that situation, pharmacy is a very challenging business to be in.

?We continue to work with community pharmacies on sometimes a daily basis in communities across Kansas to make sure they are viable.?

EPA legislation

A local farmer asked Moran for his assessment of the ?Waters of the United States? bill that seeks to limit the regulative authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Moran said Kansas and Marion County have little or no ?navigable waters,? but EPA is seeking more control of water nationally.

?The EPA?s position is that they are entitled to regulate waters that affect navigable waters?wherever rain falls, at some point it ends up in a body of navigable water,? Moran said. ?This is the most expansive way they can interpret this (law).?

Moran called the court system ?the savior at the moment? for limiting the EPA?s reach.

?A federal circuit court has agreed with those of us who believe the EPA has gone way beyond what the law allows them to do and has put a hold on the implementation of these regulations under this law.

?The next step, of course, is to wait for an appeal and see what the outcome is.?

Political mess

Several questions and comments addressed the record-low ratings regarding the effectiveness of Congress and the direction President Obama seems to be leading the nation.

On the former, Moran reported a personal comment Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who welcomed him to the Senate in 2011 by informing him, ?We intentionally are not going to do anything.?

?For much of life, when Congress was doing nothing, that was a good thing,? Moran said. ?Today, I am of the view that Congress has done so many bad things, the administrations?let me put a plural on that?have done so many bad things that now I?ve been focused on undoing bad things and unleashing the opportunities Americans have to live their lives, pursue the American dream, create opportunities for their kids?and government is standing in the way, in most instances.?

Moran said his frustration prompted him to seek the chairmanship of the Nation?al Republican Sena?torial Committee in 2012 in order to recruit Republican candidates to run for the Senate. The result was a gain of nine seats in the 2014 elections, resulting in the first Republi?can majority since 2006.

As for the president?s leadership, Moran declined to assign motives for the president?s positions and initiatives, but he agreed with the questioner?s criticism of their impact.

?I don?t know why the president does things the way he does,? Moran said. ?But I know that on a wide range of issues, from national security to the country?s economy, they are damaging to people that I represent and damaging to the future of our country.?

Word of hope

Moran said despite his concern with impact of the Obama administration, he offered his best hope for the nation during the new year.

?I think the answer to that is elections,? he said. ?I always look at New Year?s Day as a time in which we can be optimistic about what?s next?set aside what?s happened in the past and start anew. The question in my mind is, will we do that in 2016?

?As Ameri?cans, our responsibility is to pass on a country where freedoms and liberties that were fought and died for, including our Constitution, are preserved, and that everybody has a chance to live the American dream.

?It seems to me that in both instances we are diminishing our freedoms and liberties and we are reducing the opportunities that Ameri?cans in the future have to pursue the things that are important in their lives.?

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