by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Family members in Iowa are among the legions of caregivers across the country who sacrifice time, careers and money to provide care for loved ones who no longer are able to live independently or care for themselves.

The family safety net for generations has helped loved ones stay longer in their own homes and helped to enhance the quality of life for aging parents and grandparents.

Sometimes, it becomes impossible for these laborers of love to provide the 24-hour care and medical attention that America's most vulnerable population requires.

In communities across Iowa, trusted long-term care facilities provide a valuable service close to home for families who are no longer able to provide the level of care an aging or disabled loved one requires.

To be sure, America's aging population is creating increased demand for long-term care services. Nearly 1.7 million elderly and disabled Americans live in 17,000 nursing home facilities. The percentage of the U.S. population living in a nursing home is on the rise as Americans continue to defy life expectancy estimates from even a generation ago.

The two giant government health programs, Medicare and Medicaid, spend an estimated $70 billion each year for nursing home services. As a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs, I've conducted extensive oversight of these programs to strengthen patient safety, track accountability within the U.S. health care system, and protect the integrity of tax dollars.

A recent federal report I requested to analyze how anti-psychotic drugs are being prescribed in nursing homes raises important questions in these areas. The audit shows an increase in the use of anti-psychotic drugs, such as Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa, for so-called "off-label" use for patients suffering from dementia. The Food and Drug Administration requires makers of this class of drugs to put a "black box" warning on the product label (the FDA's strongest patient safety warning) about using these drugs for patients with dementia. In this way, the FDA warns that elderly patients with dementia who take these drugs have an increased risk of death.

Most Americans have grown accustomed to the risk of side effects when taking medication. Do nursing home residents, who are receiving powerful drugs not intended for their underlying condition, understand the risks? Are these drugs being prescribed in the best interest of the patient?  Also, to what extent are Medicare and Medicaid paying for drugs that may not be in the best interest of the patient?  Separately, I've examined the link between payments that pharmaceutical companies make to physicians. Some reports suggest some health care practitioners might be unduly influenced by drug companies to prescribe drugs "off label."

As more elderly patients are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, policymakers, patient safety advocates and health care professionals have a responsibility to protect this vulnerable population. The rising use of anti-psychotic medicines -  which are FDA-approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - may not be the best treatment for a nursing home patient exhibiting symptoms of age-onset dementia.

My list of credentials does not include a medical license. I'm not telling physicians what to prescribe to their patients. However, we all have a moral obligation to try to make sure the most vulnerable among us, the frail elderly, are not victims of medication misuse.  And, as I serve Iowans in the U.S. Senate, I have a legislative license to hold to account those who receive payments from taxpayer-financed public health programs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Q.  What is the debt ceiling?

A.  The debt ceiling is a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow from both the public (such as anyone who buys bonds) and government trust funds (including the Social Security Trust Fund).  The Treasury Department cannot issue any debt above the amount approved by Congress.  The first such debt limit was set in 1917.  In 2010, the debt ceiling was raised by $1.9 trillion to make the current limit $14.294 trillion.  The Treasury Secretary has said that Congress must act to raise the debt ceiling this year by August 2, or risk defaulting on U.S. borrowing obligations.  Until very recently, President Obama argued for raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion without any accompanying conditions for reducing government spending.  The debate then shifted, and in May, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 318 to 97 against such a no-strings-attached increase in the debt ceiling.  Having to consider the debt limit should help Congress control spending and force Congress and the President to take stock of the country's fiscal situation.

Q.  Why shouldn't the debt ceiling be raised without spending cuts?

A.  Today, the federal debt and deficits are at record levels.  These obligations inhibit the ability of the U.S. economy to grow and create private-sector jobs.  It also is morally wrong to make the next generation pay the bills for the way we live today.  Americans sent a clear message in the last election that they want government spending reined in.  Today, the need to make sure the federal government doesn't default by increasing the debt limit should serve as a positive impetus for Congress and the President to commit to meaningful deficit reduction measures.  In fact, continuing to raise the debt ceiling without concrete plans to reduce spending is itself a recipe for disaster.  The inability of Washington to chart a course to bring down federal deficits already resulted in Standard & Poor's lowering its outlook for America's long-term credit rating from "stable" to "negative," for the first time ever, earlier this year.  Serious spending reforms are needed for the sake of America's fiscal well-being.  Negotiations now are under way between congressional leaders and the White House on an agreement for spending reductions along with an increase in the debt ceiling.  This debate provides a major opportunity to bring fiscal responsibility and accountability to Washington.

CHICAGO - June 3, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bill:

Bill No.: SB 1177

Creates the General Assembly Redistricting Act of 2011.

An Act Concerning: Redistricting

Action: Signed                        

Effective Date: Immediately

"Ensuring that everyone's voice is heard in government is crucial to our democracy. For the first time, the people of Illinois have been able to participate in public hearings and have their voices heard in drawing their legislative districts. I would like to commend lawmakers for significantly increasing openness and transparency in the remap process," said Governor Quinn. "I commend Sen. Kwame Raoul and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie for their leadership in drafting a map that better represents the interest of our diverse communities."




The flip-flops are on.  The lemonade is made.  It's time to kick back, relax, and enjoy summer!  There's nothing children look forward to more than summer vacation - but it's also an important time to give thought to the upcoming school year.  In a time of cash-strapped school districts cutting programs and consolidating classes, Rivermont Collegiate continues to provide students with a comprehensive education.  Rivermont, located in Bettendorf, is the Quad Cities' only private, independent, nonsectarian college-prep school for students in preschool through twelfth grade.

At Rivermont, small class sizes, individualized attention, and high academic standards result in students who nourish personal talents and passions while gaining a critical foundation to life and learning.  Rivermont infuses a traditional curriculum with innovative ideas and technology, as well as the freedom to take risks in academics, leadership, athletics, arts, and service.  Foreign language instruction begins in kindergarten and individualized college counseling begins in the ninth grade.  100% of Rivermont graduates are accepted to four-year colleges and universities and over 90% earn four-year renewable college merit scholarships.

What are you waiting for?  Come explore Rivermont Collegiate at our Summer Open House on Thursday, June 9th from 9:00-11:00 a.m. This casual event gives families the opportunity to tour campus and explore our philosophy and programs.  Rivermont Collegiate is located at 1821 Sunset Drive in Bettendorf, directly off 18th street behind K&K Hardware.  No appointment necessary!  Join us!

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate or Thursday's Summer Open House, contact Cindy Murray at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302


Nova Singers will kick off their 26th Season with their second "Out of the Ordinary Concert: Nova Singers and Friends," on Sunday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, 1600-20th Street, Rock Island, Illinois. Current members and alumni of Nova Singers will perform everything from classical to blues, from sacred songs to Broadway hits.

Audience members will enjoy hearing jazz tunes such as "When October Goes" and "How About You?".  Many of the Nova Singers are church musicians and will offer handbell solos such as "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty", an organ solo, "Rondo", by Bull, and a vocal duet, "Be Still My Soul/ What a Friend We Have in Jesus." A Nova family will present Broadway tunes such as "Anything You Can Do" and "Dites Moi".  For the Gilbert and Sullivan fans, you'll hear "Love, Unrequited, Robs Me of My Rest". A string quartet will play a variety of pieces throughout the concert. All together, the Nova Singers, led by artistic director Laura Lane, will be performing some music from their recently recorded Christmas CD. And, for all the WVIK enthusiasts, there will be stories from Car Talk and Rock Island Lines.

This special event is a fund-raiser that will support the Nova Singers' 26th Season. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and students are free. Tickets will be available at the door. For more information, please contact Nova Singers at For information about recordings or other Nova Singers events, contact 309-341-7038, or Or visit our Nova Singers Facebook page!

Iowa Members Support Capping Direct Payments to Farmers Making +$250K

Washington, DC - Today, Congressmen Bruce Braley, Leonard Boswell, and Dave Loebsack joined together to push back against cuts that would hurt Iowa farmers, the state's economy, and America's energy independence by slashing crop insurance and gutting renewable energy programs that encourage the harvesting of agriculture energy inputs and help rural gas stations to purchase ethanol blend pumps.

In a letter to leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Federal Drug Administration, and related agencies, the Members urged the Senators to take a second look at the House's cuts to crop insurance, renewable energy programs, and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The House Members asked the Subcommittee to retain the $250,000 income cap leveled ondirect farm payments in the legislation.

"Gas prices are climbing and crippling family budgets all over this country, but Washington politicians are trying to undercut the alternative fuel industry that helps lower gas prices and creates thousands of jobs. It makes absolutely no sense," said Rep. Braley. "Hard working families and thousands of good-paying jobsdepend on this funding."

"With gas prices still high and concerns over what or who is exactly driving them up, it is outrageous to pull funding from renewable energy programs that have had an impact on reducing our country's dependence on foreign oil and created thousands of jobs, especially while still paying out subsidies to oil giants like BP and ExxonMobil," said Rep. Boswell, a senior Member of the House Agriculture Committee. "The House FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill is short-sighted, and embodies what happens when appropriators legislate without talking to Members of the Agriculture Committee who come from agriculture states and understand what it requires to run a farm and get food to our tables."

"Renewable fuels have shown to be a critical component in our efforts to reduce our dependence onforeign oil," said Rep. Loebsack. "The House's proposed cuts to crop insurance and cuts to energy infrastructure hurt Iowa's economy and our nation's security."

A copy of the letter is available here:


SPRINGFIELD, IL (06/03/2011)(readMedia)-- The Illinois National Guard sent one CH-47 Chinook helicopter with five crew members from Company B, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation based in Peoria to help the South Dakota National Guard battle flood waters on June 3.

"Our Soldiers and Airmen are always prepared and willing to help our neighbors," said Maj. Gen. William L. Enyart the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "Rising floodwater is something that we completely understand here in Illinois."

Approximately 1,000 South Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been helping to hold back the flood waters in the upper plains state for nearly a week. The Illinois National Guard Aircraft and crew will sling load one-ton sandbags to secure the levy along the Missouri River near Sioux City, Iowa.

Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion 238th Aviation were among the 550 Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who helped to battle the floods in southern Illinois in April and May of this year.

For more information contact the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569 or at

Amana - You' ll have to see it to believe it! What starts out so innocently quickly spirals out of control as a tiny little mouse (with way too much energy) turns a home upside down in The Old Creamery Theatre for Young Audiences production of If You Give AMouse A Cookie.

The show opens Saturday June 18 at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage at 39 38th Ave., Amana and runs through July 2. Shows are at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, with weekday matinees at 10 a.m. on June 21, 23 and 29. Day cares and summer camp groups are welcome but matinees are filling up quickly, so call today.

Directed by Sean McCall, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie is adapted by Jody Davidson from the book by Laura Joffe Numeroff. The cast consists of Old Creamery regulars Nicholas Hodge and Ian Zahren.

Tickets are $8 per person for reserved seating. Call the box office at 800-35-AMANA or visit the website at for information or to purchase your tickets.

The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. The company is celebrating 40 years of bringing live, professional theatre to the people of Iowa and the Midwest. We thank KGAN and Fox 28, our 2011 season media sponsor.

MOLINE, ILLINOIS - WQPT's annual on-line auction is open and available for bidding. The auction closes on June 12th

The WQPT on-line auction can be accessed at, featuring vacations to Chicago, Gettysburg, Milwaukee and Florida. Additionally, there are services, gift certificates, art and PBS items.

On June 5 at 11:00 a.m. and June 8 at 7:00 p.m. WQPT airs a Sneak Peek Auction  program.  The auction is a fundraising event for WQPT.

Auction items include : a Lobster Feast for two with the Lobsters flown in from Maine;  Autographed items from the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bear;  passes to Brew Ha Ha and tickets to the Quad Cities River Bandits. "We've got nearly 100 items to choose from. The auction is a great way for people to find a wonderful gift item and support WQPT, all at the same time" said Bea Brasel, WQPT's Special Projects Coordinator.

WQPT is a broadcast service of Western Illinois University and has been the local public television station serving western Illinois and eastern Iowa since 1983.

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WASHINGTON – Applications for fall semester internships in the Iowa and Washington, D.C. offices of Senator Chuck Grassley are due June 15.

Grassley said he encourages young Iowans who are interested in learning more about government to apply.  "Spending a semester working in a congressional office is a good way for college students and new graduates to learn more about the legislative branch of the federal government and to gain valuable work experience," he said.  "Exposure to the work of a Senate office can enhance a college education and make students more competitive job applicants when they graduate.  These internships are available to students in all areas of study. 

Full- and part-time internships are available for Iowans in Grassley's offices in Washington, D.C., Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Sioux City and Waterloo.  The fall internships run from late August to mid-December.  Interns assist staff members with administrative, legislative and communications work, including that of Grassley's staff on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where he serves as Ranking Member.

Application forms are available on Grassley's Senate website, in the placement offices of many Iowa colleges and universities, and in Grassley's offices in Iowa. Due to security-related delays in postal mail delivery to U.S. Senate office buildings, internship applications should be faxed to 202-224-5136 or emailed to  For more information, send messages or call 202-224-3744.