The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

June 28, 2013

U.S. Sen. Blunt meets with local health care providers

JOPLIN, Mo. — On Friday’s anniversary of a Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal health care reform law, Missouri U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt visited Joplin to discuss the law with those in the medical field.

“We want it to work as well as it can possibly work,” said Blunt, who said he has been “skeptical” of whether the law could be fully implemented in the country. “I think it’s a long way from perfect, but it is the law.”

Blunt said the objective of his roundtable discussion with local health care officials, held at Access Family Care in Joplin, was to assess the challenges that they’re facing with implementing the law and whether any adjustments to the law could be proposed by legislators.

He said he wanted to know how people are being affected by the law, which was upheld in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision a year ago.

Richard Schooler, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Freeman Health System, said one of the challenges he has noticed in the law is in employee recruitment. In order to broaden health care access to patients, hospitals need to expand their work force, but funding isn’t necessarily available, he said.

He said the federal law offers several grants for residency training for new physicians, but those grants will expire within a few years. He said more funding for training is needed to attract new physicians to the field.

“We’re doing everything we need to do to get more access (for patients); we’re not doing what we need to do to get more providers,” he said.

Gary Pulsipher, president of Mercy Hospital in Joplin, said it has become particularly challenging to recruit primary care physicians.

He also said Mercy is working to adjust its cost structures internally. He said he has seen “significant changes” in medical reimbursements from the federal government as a result of the law, and Mercy is trying to figure out how to maintain patient care while reducing costs in other areas.

Paula Baker, Freeman’s chief executive officer, said she appreciates efforts to expand health care access for patients seeking treatment for mental or behavioral health issues.

She said Freeman sees an average of 80 patients each week with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis. The health system also oversees Ozark Center, which focuses primarily on mental and behavioral health care.

“If there was greater access to care for those patients, I think that would be beneficial,” she said.

Blunt said he agreed that providing access for that type of care and finding funds to support it were critical health care needs.

Meanwhile, Sen. Claire McCaskill has also offered some proposals to modify the law. She continues to support an effort to repeal a provision that requires some states to subsidize wages at hospitals through Medicare reimbursements. She said Missouri could lose $15 million this year under the loophole.

“I’ve consistently said that whether you supported or opposed the Affordable Care Act, we can work together to keep improving and strengthening it as it’s implemented,” she said earlier this year.

Affordable Care Act

The law, called the Affordable Care Act, aims to broaden health coverage for uninsured Americans. Several provisions — including one that requires individuals to have an insurance policy or else be charged a penalty — are expected to become effective next year.

Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • r072314techcenter4.jpg Southeast Kansas schools, businesses get behind new technical center

    When Galena Superintendent Brian Smith looks at the millions of dollars of construction projects going on in his district, not to mention similar projects underway in Joplin, Carthage and elsewhere, he sees the need to train masons.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting_Cast.jpg Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

    A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    July 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope.jpg Pope meets Sudanese woman sentenced to death

    Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant daughter born just weeks ago in prison.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Box Turtle.jpg Getting reacquainted with garden dwellers

    Visitors to my garden this week find me covered in dust and dirt with bits of wood, leaves and who knows what else caught in my hair; stinky, sweaty gloves; grimy sweat pants and rivulets of dirty perspiration running down my face.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • mug_sarah-coyne-112613-c.jpg Sarah Coyne: Older kids still find joy in toys

    When she crawled under her covers, she buried her head in her pillow. Then she looked up at me and whispered, "But what if I can't stop thinking about that spider?"

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414_annie1.JPG Child's play: Kids comprise the cast of 'Annie Jr.'

    The kids are getting a kick out of playing adults. While most of the main characters in "Annie Jr." are orphan children, some, such as Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and President Roosevelt, are squarely past adulthood.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dave Ramsey: Keep hands off the 529 money

    Should we use money from our son's 529 plan for college to pay off debt?

    July 24, 2014