Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Nursing Home Lobbying Group Seeking Exemption from Health Law Contributed $4.5M in Last Decade PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Pamela Helsey   
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 07:19

May 17, 2011 - Nursing homes are seeking exemptions from the new health care law, claiming an inability to fund new insurance coverage mandates, according to the New York Times.

According to analysis conducted by MapLight, over the past decade (Jan 1. 2001-Dec. 31 2010):

Breakdown by Party per Election Cycle

A closer look at contributions from nursing homes shows that their contributions to senators are fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats within each cycle, but contributions to House members vary according to which party is in power. While there was only one cycle in the last five in which either party in the Senate received more than 53% of nursing home contributions (57% to Democrats in the 2004 cycle), the party in control of the House of Representatives never received less than 58% of nursing home contributions to House members.

U.S. Congress:

2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 613,233 $ 721,390 $ 970,863 $ 2,004,041 $ 1,953,872 $ 6,263,399
Republican $ 830,049 $ 940,655 $ 1,394,633 $ 1,406,510 $ 1,542,818 $ 6,114,665
Total $ 1,443,282 $ 1,662,045 $ 2,365,496 $ 3,410,551 $ 3,496,690 $12,378,064
Democrat % 42% 43% 41% 59% 56% 51%
Republican % 58% 57% 59% 41% 44% 49%

House of Representatives:

2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 324,254 $ 310,385 $ 562,863 $ 1,179,870 $ 1,352,552 $ 3,729,924
Republican $ 532,599 $ 631,371 $ 1,005,807 $ 688,485 $ 997,385 $ 3,855,647
Total $ 856,853 $ 941,756 $ 1,568,670 $ 1,868,355 $ 2,349,937 $ 7,585,571
Democrat % 38% 33% 36% 63% 58% 49%
Republican % 62% 67% 64% 37% 42% 51%


2002 cycle 2004 cycle 2006 cycle 2008 cycle 2010 cycle Total
Democrat $ 288,979 $ 411,005 $ 408,000 $ 824,171 $ 601,320 $ 2,533,475
Republican $ 297,450 $ 309,284 $ 388,826 $ 718,025 $ 545,433 $ 2,259,018
Total $ 586,429 $ 720,289 $ 796,826 $ 1,542,196 $ 1,146,753 $ 4,792,493
Democrat % 49% 57% 51% 53% 52% 53%
Republican % 51% 43% 49% 47% 48% 47%

Monetary and non-monetary contributions to candidate campaign committees of legislators serving in the 109th, 110th, 111th and 112th Congresses. Contributions data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics ( Contribution totals are based on campaign contribution figures connected to the nursing home industry as established by the Center for Responsive Politics.

A link to this data release can be found here.

In Iowa’s Interest: Celebrating the Promise of Cancer Research PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 16 May 2011 07:24
By Senator Tom Harkin

May is Cancer Research Month – a time for our country to pause and recognize the landmark accomplishments and life-saving promise of this critical research.  And, we are reminded during this month, that one of the best ways we can fight this epidemic and save lives is to continue to research cures, causes, treatments and prevention tools.

Despite the advancements that have been made in recent years, cancer remains one of the greatest health concerns in our nation.  It is estimated that in 2010, over 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer in the United States, causing more than 550,000 deaths.  This makes cancer the second most common cause of death in this country. In Iowa in 2010, an estimated 6,400 Iowans will die from cancer, 14 times the number caused by auto fatalities.

In the past years, we have made great strides. Early detection has increased survival rates and new tools have greatly improved the five-year survival rate for many types of cancer, but there is still much work to be done.  That is why as Chairman of both the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds medical research, and as Chairman of the Committee that oversees health initiatives, I have actively fought to provide funding at both the national and local levels for cancer research, screening and prevention initiatives. In fiscal year 2011, the National Institutes of Health will fund $5.8 billion in cancer research.  And last year, I secured $370 million for cancer screening and prevention efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Out of those funds, Iowa runs the Iowa Gets Screened program and Care For Yourself programs, which provide free or low-cost screening for colon, breast and cervical cancers. Iowa schools and institutions such as the University of Iowa are also helping to lead the way in cancer research, and I have been honored to help secure nearly $21 million in NIH funding in 2010 for critical research into lung, prostrate and pancreatic cancer, as well as the role of nutrition in cancer prevention.

With Congress focusing on deficit reduction and cost-cutting it will be tempting for some to reduce funding for cancer research that can lead to better treatments, better screening tools and more effective prevention of cancer. But as a nation, we cannot afford to put transformative science on hold, particularly now, when strong investments in medical research could pay extraordinary dividends to our health and economic well-being. Even when considered in purely economic terms, it is estimated that every one percent decline in cancer mortality saves the United States economy $500 billion. I will fight to ensure that critical funding for cancer research is not cut.

For more information please feel free to contact any of my offices or visit my website at


Nursing home residents given antipsychotic drugs for off-label uses, report shows PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 07:50

WASHINGTON – May 9, 2011 - Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin wrote to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in response to a new report showing that 88 percent of the powerful antipsychotic drugs being prescribed to nursing home residents with dementia were for uses that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Nursing home residents are getting antipsychotic drugs for dementia, not psychoses,” Grassley said.  “No one seems to have a good handle on whether the patients are benefiting from these medicines or whether they’re being prescribed drugs that don’t help and might even harm them.  The government needs to do a better job of protecting nursing home residents from unnecessary drugs.  I’ll continue to work to hold the Medicare program and nursing homes accountable for the quality of care delivered to nursing home patients.”

“Late last year we convened a panel of national experts on Alzheimer’s and they told us that we must do a better job of providing care to the rapidly growing number of elders with dementia who live in our nation’s nursing homes,” Kohl said.  “As these experts told us, and as the HHS OIG report confirms, Alzheimer’s patients who do not have a diagnosis of psychosis can be seriously harmed by this class of drugs. CMS must find ways to encourage the medical community to use appropriate non-pharmacological treatments for these patients, who deserve to lead dignified lives.”

Grassley and Kohl commented on a report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.  The report titled, “Medicare Atypical Antipsychotic Drug Claims for Elderly Nursing Home Residents,” was requested by Grassley in December 2007.

The Inspector General found that 88 percent of the powerful antipsychotic drugs being prescribed to nursing home residents with dementia were for uses that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, even though the drug labels contain “black box warnings” of an increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. The report also shows that 22 percent of the nursing homes failed to meet federal standards on unnecessary drug use in nursing homes. Further, more than half of the claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs were improperly paid.

Grassley and Kohl wrote to the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, seeking a description of the agency’s actions to protect nursing home residents from unnecessary off-label antipsychotic prescriptions and to protect the taxpayers from improper payments for these drugs.  The text of their letter is available here.  The text of the report is available here.

Grassley and Kohl have long worked together to safeguard nursing home residents and more broadly, to inject transparency into the financial relationships between drug makers and doctors.  Last year, their Physician Payments Sunshine Act became law and will require, beginning in 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services to post on a public website newly reported payments that drug, device and biologic makers make to physicians.



Grassley Works to Improve Access to Health Care for Veterans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 07:48

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today introduced legislation with Senator Mark Begich of Alaska to waive co-payments for veterans for telehealth and telemedicine visits.

“Telemedicine can help rural residents access health care services that otherwise might be out of reach.  This legislation is designed to make sure veterans are able to take advantage of telehealth’s valuable, cost-effective services,” Grassley said.  “Based on the fact that telehealth services continue to improve, and that telehealth reduces overall costs for the VA, our bill is a win-win for veterans and taxpayers.”

The proposed legislation would waive copayments, which can be as high as $50 per visit, for telehealth appointments.  “Waiving the payments would lessen the burden on veterans and encourage more veterans to take advantage of telehealth programs, improving their ability to manage health issues and have a better quality of life,” Grassley said.

According to the Veterans Health Administration, telehealth programs have demonstrated reduced hospital admissions and clinic and emergency room visits.

Thousands of Iowa veterans are enrolled in Care Coordination Home Telehealth, Clinical Video Telehealth, and Teleretinal Imaging telehealth programs in Iowa.


Local Not-For-Profit Begins Construction on New Nursing Facility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Erin McConaughey   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:29

Kahl Home to Build New 135-Bed Skilled Nursing Home

Davenport, IA – A ground-blessing ceremony will be held this week to commemorate the early stages of construction on the new Kahl Home senior living facility, located at 6701 Jersey Ridge Road, Davenport, IA on Thursday, May 12 at 1:00 p.m. Participating in the ceremony will be Bishop Martin Amos, Bishop of the Davenport Diocese and Mother M. Mark Louis Anne Randall, O.Carm., Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, Germantown, NY, that sponsors the Kahl Home for the Aged and Infirm. Press is invited to attend.

The Kahl Home will be a new 138,000 square foot multi-story nursing facility located on a 40 acre site. The building will contain a total of 135 licensed nursing home beds in six nursing units of 22-23 beds each. Each nursing unit will have its own dining area and home-like resident common space. The building will contain a spacious atrium area with a café, pub, and gift shop, in addition to administrative areas, kitchen, physical plant, support services, chapel and a convent. Construction of the new $28,000,000 facility started in October 2010 and is scheduled to be completed by May 2012.

This is Phase One of a long range planned continuing care retirement campus. The current project is the skilled nursing facility, including a dedicated Medicare wing for short term rehabilitation, chapel and convent. Placed throughout the project will be several formal open spaces, such as gardens, plazas, and courtyards. Informal open spaces will occur throughout this site in addition to walking trails, lawns and water features.

Established in 1955, the original Kahl Home housed 21 female residents. As a waiting list for the facility grew, it was immediately apparent that additional space was needed to accommodate those seeking admittance. Additions to the Kahl Home were constructed in 1963 and again in 1987 bringing the total licensed bed capacity to 135 residents. The entire existing facility will be replaced by the new project with the planned disposition of the existing facility.

The Kahl Home’s motto, “The Difference is Love” is strongly rooted in their mission, vision and values for the organization. The Carmelite Sisters and the staff of the Kahl Home are committed to providing services that meet all of the physical, spiritual, recreational, and psychosocial needs of the individual residents. The Kahl Home provides widespread services to its residents including 24-hour nursing care, long-term and short-term rehabilitation care, Alzheimer and Dementia care, hospice care, speech therapies, psychosocial counseling, adaptive computer labs, and daily Mass. Each team member works together with residents and their families to identify and meet each person’s individual needs, and do so by upholding the resident’s dignity and encouraging their independence. For more information on the Kahl Home, please visit their website at

This ground blessing also marks the beginning of a $5 million area-wide capital campaign. Some early commitments have been secured, including an anonymous gift of $1 million. Rosalie Thomas, Administrator of Kahl Home states “We are deeply grateful for the $1 million lead gift and for the gifts of those other early donors that have stepped forward. We believe others will respond generously in recognition of the commitment of the Carmelite Sisters and the high quality of care provided by the Kahl Home over the past 55 years. We are completing the enlistment of our campaign leaders and will announce the team in the very near future.”

Russell Construction, located in Davenport, IA, is serving as the Construction Manager on this project. THW Design, located in Atlanta, GA is serving as the Architect. For more information on Russell Construction, please visit their website at


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