Letters to the Editor
Community comes together
The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," was displayed on Wednesday, May 2, at Nevada High School in the joint efforts of many agencies. A Docu-Drama, which is a mock crash and re-enactment of a drunk driving wreck, was coordinated with the help of Leland Splitter of the Vernon County Ambulance District and Denise Nelson of the R-5 Health Services.
Several community agencies and individuals participated in this Drinking and Driving Docu-Drama for seniors and juniors at NHS. I would like to thank James McKenzie and his staff at the VCAD; Mark Burger and other personnel from the Nevada Police Department; Dan Miller from the Vernon County Sheriff's Department; all of the firemen from the Nevada Fire Department; Rick Smith from Southeast Auto; David Ferry from Ferry Funeral Home; Sgt. Mark Harwell from the Missouri State Highway Patrol; Judge Neal Quitno; Leon Gire, Tricia Bridgewater and Sara Torontow from the Wellness Company; J.B. Woolverton from Nevada Mental Health; Mary Culbertson, Juli Holland, and Sheila Howell from NHS; the student participants from the senior class: Steph Krohn, Spencer Thompson, Anita van Rooyen, and Katie McLemore and parent, Kelli McLemore; participants from the junior class: Lauren Silvola, Lakyn Gibbs, Jake Anderson, and Zach Splitter, and parent, Leland Splitter; Crystal Hancock from the Nevada Daily Mail for the news coverage; KNEM-KNMO for the radio announcements; and to all administrators, teachers, maintenance men, and custodial staff, especially Mary Woods and Everett Kenney. In addition, I would especially like to thank Donna Burrus and Connie Moffatt, who shared their personal stories of loss of family members, which deeply touched those students in attendance.
This realistic and powerful re-enactment of a fatal motor crash, followed by a panel of speakers and small group discussion, was a graphic attempt to bring home the consequences that often times follow a young person's decision to drink and drive, or to get into a car with someone who has been drinking. Our many thanks go to the agencies and individuals who supported this effort with their time and donation of services.
Our emphasis this year has also been on seat belt awareness. "Buckle Up! ARRIVE ALIVE!" has been a recurring statement at NHS and many of the other schools. We encourage everyone in our community to wear seat belts and wear them properly.
May is a fitting month in which to have this Drinking and Driving Docu-Drama, not only as an important warning to adolescent drivers prior to graduation, but to all of us as we approach Memorial Day with its great personal significance to many who have lost loved ones. Help us help our teenagers to make the right decisions about alcohol -- don't allow another teen to become a statistic. Thank you to all of the "village" people for helping to raise the youth of Nevada.
Nevada R-5 Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Coordinator
Cncerns about HealthNet
If you or a loved one has ever undergone the trauma of a serious unexpected illness, you need to watch the Missouri legislature over the next two weeks. The Republican-led House Special Committee on Healthcare Facilities has drawn up the "Missouri HealthNet" plan to overhaul Missouri's Medicaid program, on which thousands of Missourians depend for basic health care. I spoke before the committee Wednesday as a former small-business owner who had built my businesses at great risk to my financial security and, as I discovered, my physical health, as I could afford nothing more than catastrophic health coverage with extraordinarily high deductibles and co-pays. At age 37, I received a stage four cancer diagnosis, requiring an intense and expensive treatment regimen. It was the Missouri Medicaid program that saved my life, enabling me to receive essential health care which should be the right of every American. Now that I have endured 18 months of treatment and drastic changes in my lifestyle enabling significant recovery, I am caught in a complex web of bureaucracy preventing me from returning to work. The unusually strict Medicaid eligibility guidelines in Missouri will not allow me to move on with my life and return to my previous business, which is falling apart as a result. I am thus at serious risk of becoming permanently dependent on the state not only for health care, but for basic needs as a result.
HealthNet's massive web of red tape, including several new bureaucratic entities which will require annual evaluations and constant oversight, can serve only to enrich a new network of political cronies, oversight of whom will cost much more than expanding Medicaid coverage and eligibility ever would. It does nothing to restore the coverage that was so cruelly taken away from over 100,000 poor and disabled Missourians by the Governor's 2005 cuts. And HealthNet refuses to update Missouri's unconscionably stringent eligibility guidelines, the second strictest in the county, which prevent a single adult with no children from earning even the paltry sum of $300 per month without losing their Medicaid health coverage. I am also appalled by the HealthNet plan's refusal to acknowledge the dignity of poor and underserved people. It treats us as deviant criminals, spending more effort on rooting out so-called "Medicaid fraud" than it does on providing health coverage. Health care should not be used as a political weapon.
Health care for all Missourians is a goal that is far too important to allow an ill-considered piece of legislation like Missouri HealthNet to rush through at the last minute in a vain effort to score political points. Increasing Medicaid eligibility and expanding coverage across the board would not only save the state money in the cost of care, it will bring in matching federal dollars that are added to the state's health care budget. Expanding health coverage for underserved populations is a win-win situation for Missouri. Missouri HealthNet does precious little to expand health coverage, and is a horrendous example of out-of-control political bureaucracy. It is time to stop playing games with people's lives and bring Missouri's Medicaid eligibility guidelines into step with the rest of the country; we can do better.