The Ottumwa Courier

April 10, 2013

Observe railroad crossing gates

The Ottumwa Daily Courier

---- — Observe railroad crossing gates

Just 39 hours after two children were killed in Batavia, I observed a red, mid-sized pickup at the cemetery crossing in Agency GO AROUND the gates in front of a moving train! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? I don’t want to see or hear about another railroad crossing fatality.

John Blazina


Time to reform medical malpractice system

As our lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate debate health care reform, I hope they also consider making reforms to our medical malpractice system.

Our system takes years to resolve cases, and that’s not good for patients or their physicians. It’s also costly, and we need to look at what other states are doing to drive down costs and make their systems more responsive.

State Rep. Chip Baltimore has sponsored a bill that would make meaningful changes for Iowans. One of his proposals concentrates on eliminating the practice of defensive medicine, which may occur when physicians feel pressured to order unnecessary tests and procedures to protect themselves from the threat of a lawsuit. This practice does nothing to help patients, and in some cases, it can even be harmful.

Rep. Baltimore is recommending that Iowa adopt a “safe harbor for evidence-based medicine” that would allow physicians who follow well-established guidelines for care to use as a legal defense if they are sued, if they maintain that the care they provided was consistent with good medicine. If patients don’t agree with that assessment, they can present evidence to the contrary. A judge then decides the case after all the evidence is presented. This reform provides an added level of protection for physicians who decline to order costly tests and procedures that are not medically necessary.

This safe harbor concept is an innovative solution that does nothing to prevent someone from having their day in court. It does, however, give physicians the freedom to focus on providing the best possible care for their patients.

Kenneth Wayne, MD


Proposed CAFOs will be harmful

Ten thousand hogs in two confinements are proposed for Batavia and Eldon. Community residents are deeply upset, and they have reason to be. These confinements are a great threat to their health, quality of life and financial investments they’ve made in their homes and communities.

Here’s a sampling of documented research illustrating what people experience when factory farms move into communities:

1. Property values drop up to 40 percent near CAFOs (Iowa State University study).

2. Factory farms emit over 200 toxic gases, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, and particulates such as fecal matter. The University of Iowa and Iowa State University deemed hydrogen sulfide and ammonia emissions from CAFOs a health risk for humans.

3. The toxic gases are byproducts of liquid manure putrefying in underground manure pits for six to 12 months. Air is exhausted out of confinements, otherwise hogs or humans would die from the gases in under 30 minutes. Instead, people living near CAFOs breathe it in.

4. Neighbors living within two miles of a CAFO experience physical problems including wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, excessive coughing, nausea, diarrhea, headache and weakness (University of North Carolina studies).

5. Children attending schools near CAFOs suffer over twice the rate of asthma than other children (study in Pediatrics).

6. People lose the enjoyment of their homes and their cherished quality of life. Fly infestations are common. Intense odors prohibit residents from enjoying their yards or opening windows.

7. People often leave communities that then disintegrate, destroying the very fabric of rural life.

In JFAN’s opinion, it’s unfair that entire communities must suffer the consequences of factory farms in their midst. We encourage the Adam family to withdraw their CAFO applications and consider traditional sustainable farming methods that would cause no harm to these two well-established communities but would, instead, enrich Iowa’s rural life.

Diane Rosenberg

executive director Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.


Dizzy the Clown is a hero

We have a hometown hero among us, in my opinion. The gifts of sharing good character traits, inspirational messages for great behavior, the love for children and the betterment of our students that pours out of this person are immeasurable.

As a parent and an educator in the Ottumwa School District, I feel we are beyond fortunate to have the blessing of Dizzy the Clown in our community. In addition to the many assemblies regarding respectful actions, terrific reading skills and anti-bullying messages that she delivers to all the children at each school, Dizzy orchestrated a “flash mob” for children at North Hy-Vee recently. Children in fourth grade through high school, parents and educational staff were invited to participate. My fifth-graders were ecstatic to be involved. With the continued theme of “No Bullies in my School,” it reiterated how we all want to act and how we should be treating others.

With so much “yucky” in the world that is inadvertently among our students and children, it is a blessing and a gift to have positive influences like her touching our children’s lives.

By definition the word hero means ... a person admired for bravery, great deeds, noble qualities, one contributing to a certain field. This, in my opinion, is Dizzy the Clown. A special and grateful thank you for all she does for children and students in our community.

A definite hero! Thanks Desi!

Tracy Meister


Branstad needs to rethink Medicaid stance

The Iowa Chapter of the American College of Physicians has chosen to join with the Iowa Medical Society, the Iowa Hospital Association and other professional groups to advocate for Iowa to accept Medicaid expansion for our state as allowed in the Affordable Care Act. We are pleased that Gov. Branstad recognizes the need to expand health care coverage for financially struggling Iowans in proposing his Healthy Iowa Plan to replace the Iowa Cares program. However, the governor’s proposal will provide fewer benefits, cover fewer Iowans and cost Iowa taxpayers more than Medicaid expansion.

The governor appears to be singling out health care as an area where he is reluctant to accept federal dollars, since Iowa now receives $6.55 billion annually from the federal government for roads, education, job development, student aid and economic development among other programs. Gov. Branstad’s opposition to Medicaid is particularly puzzling because it will require federal subsidies and a federal Medicaid waiver for the governor to proceed with his alternative. We believe this wrongheaded opposition to the Medicaid expansion will hurt our patients, our hospitals, physicians and communities.

In addition, Gov. Branstad’s reliance on privatization, “healthy living initiatives” and out-of-pocket contributions would increase the complexity low-income Iowans must overcome to access health care coverage, and these hurdles are likely to reduce the health care improvement he envisions. Medicaid would provide simpler and more comprehensive access to health care for up to 150,000 of our fellow Iowans. Finally, Iowa already struggles to attract and retain physicians, a problem the governor recognizes and has endorsed programs to combat. The Healthy Iowa Plan will worsen health economics in Iowa, making it even less attractive to these professionals.

We urge Gov. Branstad to follow the example of his eight Republican gubernatorial colleagues who have reversed their positions on Medicaid and endorse the expansion of Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Absent that endorsement, we urge the Iowa Legislature to reject the Healthy Iowa Plan and require Medicaid expansion instead. Expanding Medicaid is the best opportunity to provide health care coverage to most Iowans. It is better for patients, providers, hospitals, academic health centers and for Iowa taxpayers.

Peter J. Reiter, MD, FACP

Internal Medicine North

chairman, public policy committee

Iowa chapter, American College of Physicians