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"Help America's Farmers Grow Communities" Support Local Firefighters during Fire Prevention Month PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kevin Stillman   
Monday, 08 October 2012 15:32

Monsanto Fund-sponsored program gives back to Iowa fire departments  


ST. LOUIS, MO. (Oct. 7, 2012) – Rural communities have a fire death rate twice the national average, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association.  Firefighters in these communities are also often less likely to have the necessary firefighting equipment and training. To help combat these challenges, the Monsanto Fund is investing in rural fire departments and helping to keep farming communities safer through America’s Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM.

Grow Communities gives eligible farmers the chance to win a $2,500 donation for their favorite local nonprofit organization. Last year, the largest percentage of Grow Communities funding was directed to local fire departments. The Monsanto Fund invested a total of $612,500in 245 rural fire departments across the country.

Mark Schoening, Fire Chief for Oak Township in Mills County Iowa, knows firsthand how impactful being selected as the winning recipient for Grow Communities for the county can be.

“This donation allows us to buy six air tanks, which will give us triple the amount of time we can be fighting fires indoors,” Schoening said.

For the third consecutive year, Grow Communities is gearing up to distribute $2,500 donations in 1,271 eligible counties across the country. Now through Nov. 30, 2012, farmers can apply online at or call 1-877-267-3332 to apply by phone. To date, more than $7 million has been invested in rural America through Grow Communities.

“Supporting rural America is our priority,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto Fund president. “We understand that the safety of these rural communities depends so much on the strength of its local fire department. We are proud and honored to give back to firefighters, and I am delighted to see so many farmers directing donations this way.”

New this year, community members can suggest a fire department or other nonprofit organization that is in need of funding on the Grow Communities website. Farmers can review “planted ideas” and consider them in their application. To submit a nonprofit project idea that needs funding in your community, visit by Nov. 30.

As a result of the worst drought in 50 years, more than 700 of the 1,271 Grow Communities counties have been declared natural disaster areas by the USDA. Winning farmers from these counties will have the opportunity to direct an additional $2,500 donation to a second nonprofit of their choosing to assist with community needs that have surfaced due to the drought. The Monsanto Fund will select one winner at random from each of the eligible counties and announce winning farmers and recipient nonprofits in January 2013.

America’s Farmers Grow Communities highlights the important contributions farmers make every day to our society and helps them positively impact their communities. This program is part of the Monsanto Fund’s overall effort to support rural America.
For more information about this program and to view the official rules, visit





28 Iowa fire departments received  a total of $70,000 from America’s Farmers Grow Communities in 2012, including:

·         Griswold (Cass County)

·         Tipton (Cedar County)

·         Quimby (Cherokee County)

·         Woodburn (Clarke County)

·         Webb (Clay County)

·         Welton (Clinton County)

·         Weldon (Decatur County)

·         Terrill (Dickinson County)

·         Worthington (Dubuque County)

·         Rockford (Floyd County)

·         Stratford (Hamilton County)

·         Holstein (Ida County)

·         Packwood (Jefferson County)

·         Olin (Jones)

·         Des Moines Township (Lee County)

·         Martell  (Linn County)

·         Oak Township (Marshall County)

·         St. Ansgar Rescue Squad (Mitchell County)

·         Sanborn (O’Brien County)

·         May City (Osceola County)

·         Deep River Poweshiek County)

·         Eldridge (Scott County)

·         Panama (Shelby County)

·         Cambridge (Story County)

·         Gladbrook (Tama County)

·         Sharpsburg (Taylor County)


About the Monsanto Fund

The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the farm communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at


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Fraud, Waste, and Abuse In Government-Run Medical Programs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D.   
Monday, 08 October 2012 15:24

Contributor & author:  Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D. (from the Buffalo, NY area) is a board-certified neurologist who runs a third-party-free practice in Derby, New York. Dr. Huntoon is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, and has written and lectured extensively on medical care issues and the importance of the patient-physician relationship.

Interview - Contact Dr. Huntoon directly at   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , (716) 627-7759 (reporters and journalists welcome!)

For permission to publish this article (word count: 620), contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a prompt response.

Preview:  Politicians, who have promised more than taxpayers can pay for, often point to those who provide medical care as the main source of fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. However, a report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides conclusive evidence of overbilling fraud on a massive scale committed by government itself. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Fraud, Waste, and Abuse In Government-Run Medical Programs                      

By Author/Contributor: Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D.

There is a lot of talk these days about fraud, waste and abuse in government-run medical programs. Politicians, who have promised more than taxpayers can pay for, often point to those who provide medical care as the main source of fraud, waste, and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.

However, a report prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides conclusive evidence of overbilling fraud on a massive scale committed by government itself.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform estimates that New York State overbilled the federal government by $15 billion over the past 20 years for Medicaid costs for developmentally disabled patients, an amount that exceeded the entire Medicaid budgets of 14 states! The committee reported: “The failure…suggests an institutional failure and a pattern of irresponsible actions that have cost taxpayers billions.”

What’s worse is that the federal government was complicit in this fraud. HHS officials, who are responsible for oversight of Medicare and Medicaid, acknowledged that they were aware of this massive overbilling by New York State since 2007, yet took no effective action to stop it. The deputy director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services described the overbilling as “excessive and inappropriate.”

The OIG report details how New York State took advantage of rate-setting methodology instituted by the federal government, which significantly inflated the Medicaid daily rate paid to Developmental Centers caring for disabled patients. The CMS admitted that this rate setting formula was based on “apparently incorrect” assumptions about costs.

The complex rate-setting methodology involves a federal waiver that allows New York State to bill for “total reimbursable costs” as opposed to “actual costs.” In a gross understatement, the OIG report acknowledged that “total reimbursable operating costs do not reflect the State’s actual costs.” The federal government allows New York State to bill 64% of its prior reimbursement for a patient even after the patient is discharged from the care facility. And, if a patient is transferred to another facility financed by Medicaid, the taxpayers end up paying twice for the same patient.

The OIG report revealed that Medicaid reimbursement per patient in a developmental center in New York State went from $195 per day in 1985 to $4,116 per day in 2009, which for 2009 translated to $1.5 million per year per Medicaid patient. Actual costs were 63% less than reimbursable costs paid. In 2011, taxpayers were charged a whopping $5,118 per day per patient in a New York State developmental care facility. One could likely rent a lavish resort on an island for that extraordinary sum.

The report also revealed that State-owned developmental centers were reimbursed at ten times the rate of privately owned intermediate care facilities providing comparable services in the same region.

Incredibly, instead of punishing the perpetrators of this overbilling scheme, the federal government actually rewarded New York State between 2009 and 2011 by increasing Medicaid payment rates by 8%. This was done as part of a 2009 Stimulus Package designed to boost the economy.

The OIG report concluded that “CMS’s efforts did not prevent the rate from increasing to its current level, which might not be consistent with efficiency and economy.” That’s a little like telling the victim of an armed robbery that the thief’s actions were not consistent with the victim’s economic goals and efficient use of his money.

In 2004, we learned of indisputable evidence that Medicare is an incompetence-based bureaucracy, which according to the government’s own GAO study provides the wrong answer 90% of the time in response to questions about how to properly bill the Medicare program. Now we have indisputable evidence that government itself is a major source of fraud in government-run medical programs.


Lt. Governor Simon to rally against domestic violence PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 08 October 2012 14:43

CHICAGO – To mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will rally Saturday with Chicago Ald. Deborah Graham, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, State Reps. Karen Yarbrough and Camille Lilly and other female community leaders to end domestic violence. Simon will call on churches, schools and community organizations to stand up to violence throughout Chicagoland.

Simon, a former prosecutor and founder of a domestic violence legal clinic at Southern Illinois University, is doing her part to help survivors by conducting a second annual cell phone drive. For each phone collected by Simon’s office through Friday, October 12, Verizon Wireless will donate $10 to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The proceeds will benefit the Virtual Legal Clinic, which aims to connect Chicago attorneys with survivors in underserved areas across the state for free, web-based legal consultations.

In Chicago, used phones can be donated at the rally; at the Lt. Governor’s office, 100 W. Randolph St., Suite 15-200; or at the Chicago Bar Association front desk, 321 S. Plymouth Court. Springfield donations will be accepted at Simon’s capitol office or the Illinois State Bar Association, 424. South Second St. Phones can also be donated at Simon’s Carbondale office or a local Verizon Wireless store.

“We need to raise the awareness of domestic violence in our communities and rally together to end the violence,” Simon said. “Each of us has a role to play in making sure survivors’ voices are heard and their lives are protected.”

DATE: Saturday, October 6

TIME: 10 a.m.

LOCATION: Hope Community Church, 5900 West Iowa, Chicago


Keeping Government Accountable PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 05 October 2012 13:50

by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Civics 101 teaches students about the three branches of the federal government.  Representing Iowans in the United States Senate, I enjoy meeting with students during my annual meetings in Iowa’s 99 counties or when youth groups make a trip to Washington, D.C.

Students ask informed questions.  They understand that Congress writes legislation and holds the tax-and-spending powers of the federal government.  They know the President is America’s commander-in-chief of the U.S. military and has the authority to sign legislation into the law of the land or send it back to Congress with a veto.  But one key function of Congress doesn’t usually register as much attention.  And that is congressional oversight.

Oversight is an essential function of the legislative branch authorized by the Constitution to help keep the federal government accountable to the people.  It requires vigilance and stewardship to keep tabs on a federal bureaucracy that has grown to roughly 500 departments, agencies, administrations, and authorities.  While the President, as chief executive, is ultimately responsible for managing the federal bureaucracy, Congress holds sway through its funding, lawmaking and oversight duties.

The federal government is reaching into more Americans’ lives, especially as social safety nets capture a greater share of the population in our aging society.  The President’s health care law that was steamrolled through Congress in 2010 has cast an even wider federal entitlement net across the country.  Its rulemaking and regulatory policies also impact the hiring decisions of businesses from Main Street to Wall Street.  From administering tax laws to implementing immigration policies, managing food, drug and aviation safety, setting school lunch guidelines, enforcing nursing home standards, and defending national security, Uncle Sam wears a lot of hats in the 21st century.

I made a commitment long ago to keep up a crusade on behalf of taxpayers to bring more transparency, accountability and efficiency to the federal bureaucracy.  It can be a lonely battle, and resolution often takes a long time.

Consider my decade-long effort to secure better management controls for government-issued charge cards used by federal workers.  With oversight work over the years, I exposed fraudulent, wasteful purchases made on Uncle Sam’s tab, from jewelry to gambling to cruises.  Spending abuses occurred within the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Aviation Administration, and elsewhere.  This year, the reform bill sent to the President’s desk in September strengthens measures to thwart misuse of government-issued cards and penalize those who do, including loss of their jobs.

As a fighter for whistleblowers and independent watchdogs within the federal bureaucracy, I continue to shine a bright light on wrongdoing in Washington.  Tragically, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Consider my two-year investigation into a botched gun-walking operation that exposed what can happen when the federal bureaucracy puts itself above the law.  A U.S. border patrol agent’s murder at the U.S.-Mexico border was linked to guns sold illegally under the Justice Department’s “Fast and Furious” program.  Stonewalling and denial by the Attorney General, the nation’s top law enforcement official, reflects poorly on the administration’s allegiance to upholding the public trust and thumbing its nose at the rule of law.

There’s more.  This time the questionable use of tax dollars is occurring at the Department of Health and Human Services.  Revelations of expenses for a public relations firm in California indicate the administration has the audacity to pay Hollywood to promote the controversial 2010 health care law on network television.  I’ve called upon the Department of Health and Human Services to account for the $1 billion awarded to states to establish the new health care exchanges across the country.

Congressional oversight is a vitally important responsibility of the legislative branch of government in our system of checks and balances.  It helps to uphold the public trust and unlock mismanagement in the executive branch of our government, which has become massive in scale and scope.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Morthland Legislation Streamlines FOID Card Process PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Rich Morthland   
Thursday, 04 October 2012 14:49

Springfield, IL… State Rep. Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) filed legislation Monday aimed to simplify FOID card procedures in Illinois.

“The bill allows card holders to update their Driver's License or State ID to include their FOID number and expiration date, thus allowing them to be in compliance with state statute and while only requiring them to have one card,” explained Morthland.

House Bill 6232 is a response to an Auditor General report last spring that found the Illinois State Police Firearms Services Bureau’s faulty reporting resulted in ineligible people obtaining FOID cards. The audit also cited lengthy certification delays.

“This is the beginning of our work with the Illinois State Police in the streamlining of the FOID process. I will continue to work with ISP in changing overly burdensome regulation and allowing them to focus on our public safety."

The bill does include provisions to counter abuse by requiring the State Police to notify the Secretary of State when a FOID card holder becomes ineligible and requires the Secretary to confiscate the invalid identification card. Records showed that nearly 20,000 FOID cards were revoked in 2008 and 2010, but the Illinois State Police recovered only 30 percent.

“Allowing the Secretary of State to confiscate revoked cards would strengthen the system and put less risk on the general public,” said Morthland. “I think anytime we can simplify citizens interaction with government is a good thing. It is a smart bill and in the end will save taxpayers and the state money and make it better for Illinois residents who chose to own firearms.”

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