Senator Moran Visits Clay County Hospital

By Quinn O’Hara

On Monday, October 9th, U.S. Senator for Kansas Jerry Moran visited the Clay County Medical Center to meet with local leaders to discuss plans, current events, and ideas on pressing topics around the Clay Center area. 

After a brief tour of recently updated facilities at the medical center, the group sat down and began to discuss their prepared topics.

Issue number one was the status of the hospital. Clay County Medical Center CEO Austin Gillard provided some brief statistics and said that the hospital was generally in the black. Eventually, the subject shifted to Senate Bill 340-B and its effects on Clay County.

SB 340-B is a discount program that lists certain pharmaceutical products that critical access medical centers can prescribe to patients at a highly discounted rate, thus saving both the medical center and the patient money. Once a drug on the list has been prescribed, the prescription is sent to a pharmacy partnered with the medical center, which also greatly benefits from the program. CCMS currently has deals with all three local pharmacies, both Patterson’s locations, and Ferguson Rexall, and regularly sends patient prescriptions to be filled at these locations. Gillard said SB 340-B covers roughly $1M in prescription drug costs for the hospital yearly, and if not for the program, the bill would fall to the taxpayer.

Brett Nelson, Superintendent of USD 379 proposed lowering the eligibility requirements for free or reduced school lunch so that more families can have access to the resource. He says many families who desperately need assistance fall just short of the current requirements and are suffering because of it. In response, Senator Moran remarked that as the breadbasket of the U.S., it is unfair that many of our own families and children go hungry because of the strict requirements.

James Thatcher, the Mayor of Clay County, asked Senator Moran for support for an infrastructure grant to repair sidewalks, crosswalks, and other walking paths to encourage more students to walk or bike themselves to school. It is currently in the early stages of development, but Senator Moran said he would fully support the grant once it is filed.

Finally, Senator Moran discussed Fort Riley and his desire to form an additional brigade at the fort. However, as the army struggles to recruit, the Senator said any plans for a new brigade have been shifted to being a long-term goal. Currently, the fort is 40,000 recruits shy of needed numbers. Two new units will soon be arriving at Fort Riley to increase numbers. Both new units contain a couple hundred people a piece, said the Senator.

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