Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Long-term care providers, lawmakers meet

By Russ Mitchell, Daily Reporter Staff

Less than three months are left before the 2009 session, but expect long-term care concerns to be on the agenda when state Sen. David Johnson and state Rep. Mike May return to Des Moines.
They were on hand at Longhouse-Northshire to talk with health care providers.

"We're holding 28 of these legislative forums throughout the state of Iowa and we want to really stress to the legislators the importance of access to health care," said Steve Ackerson, the executive director of the Iowa Health Care Association and Iowa Center for Assisted Living. "Right now, we see some barriers out there. One is that we have a really heavy regulatory process that sometimes curtails admissions."

The lack of Medicare reimbursement in Iowa has sometimes made if difficult for Iowans with acute needs to be admitted for long-term care, Ackerson said.

"Our Medicaid reimbursement system is 48th in the country," he said. "That's about $41 per day below the national average."

Ackerson's group represents about 75 percent of the state's long-term care organizations. He would like to see lawmakers implement a quality assurance fee. When the state reimburses the industry for the fee through Medicaid, the process captures a critical federal match.

The excess from the federal matching funds would allow providers to enhance services, increase access for health care for low-income individuals and create a fund for nursing home employees who lost possessions in the eastern Iowa floods. Funds would also go toward infrastructure. Ackerson said Iowa has some of the oldest facilities in the country. He'd also like to see the insurance premiums for nursing home employees to go down.

May, a Spirit Lake Republican, said he would make a concerted effort to push through provider increases through Medicaid in the 2009 session.

"Everyone knows it's just not adequate to maintain the kind of health care staff and specialists that we need in rural Iowa," May said. "If we're not willing to make that commitment, then rural Iowa is in deep trouble. Frankly, we know that we're aging. We know that we have health issues because of that. But we need to simply make that commitment to rural Iowans."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Garrison trample Lester Vaughan

by Justin Marville


And the pecking order of the United Insurance Schools Basketball Division 2 Tournament has been restored.

Behind the "Big Three" of John Jones, Justin Maloney and Jodi Williams, title contenders Garrison Secondary thrashed Lester Vaughan 63-35 on Wednesday to put an end to the visitors' Cinderella run in the competition.

Hopes dashed

Playing unbeaten through the season's first three games, Lester Vaughan (3-1) had high hopes of contending for the school's first championship after soundly dispatching their earlier opponents.

But those title aspirations were dashed within the first four minutes of the Dayrells Road encounter as the Garrison (5-0) were anything but hospitable to their road-weary guests.

With the backcourt pair of Williams and Maloney feasting in the open court, a 14-0 Garrison start to the contest quickly dispelled any myths about the true class of the competition.

The duo's exploits in transition were a direct result of Jones' dominance at the other end of the floor, as the 6ft. 6in. athletic centre controlled the defensive boards while registering several blocks.

Jones was no slouch offensively either, scoring a series of baskets in the low post late in the first quarter to extend the home side's lead to 24-3 heading into the second period.

Despite missing leading scorer, Ashley Smith, in that ensuing quarter, Lester Vaughan responded valiantly with Raphael Hinds, Elvis Forde and Kareem Neblett forcing the issue in transition.

The trio were allowed to get out in the open court for several easy scoring opportunities as the Garrison got sloppy, with Williams and Jones sitting out the majority of the second period.

Halted rally

However, the visitors were still forced to contend with an unrelenting Maloney, who halted Lester Vaughan's rally with a pair of baskets to the end the quarter – the last one coming on a nimble step-back jumper as the half-time whistle sounded.

Trailing 32-13 entering the second half, Lester Vaughan were undaunted by Jones and Williams' re-entry, and managed to keep themselves in the contest by changing the game into a track meet.

With Neblett and Forde pushing the ball in the open floor once more, the visitors traded baskets back and forth with Williams and Maloney keeping the deficit to a respectable 21 points (47-26) entering the fourth quarter.

But it was there that Jones stamped his authority on the game's proceedings as the visitors had no answer in the paint to the towering Garrison centre.

Pounding away

Continually pounding away in the low blocks against the smaller opposing frontcourt, Jones effectively put an end to the contest, pouring in eight fourth quarter points to stretch the hosts' lead past 30 points with less than two minutes remaining.

Williams led the way with a game-high 19 points while Jones and Maloney added 17 and 16 points, respectively. For Lester Vaughan, Neblett scored 14 points and Forde ended with 11.