A woman from Mason City who has breast cancer is at the statehouse today, lobbying for a bill that would require insurance companies to pay for mammograms when a doctor recommends one, or there’s a family history of breast cancer. Forty-year-old Holly Mennen says the bill won’t do her any good, since she’s already been diagnosed with breast cancer, but she’s getting involved because she doesn’t want anyone else to have her experience.Mennen was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast disease when she was 30. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago, which means Mennen was high risk. In 2001, Mennen’s doctor suggested she have a mammogram, but she couldn’t afford one.Mennen says in March of 2002, doctors found cancer in her breast and lymph nodes. She says she’ll be back before legislators often to urge them to pass the bill that’d force insurance companies to pay for mammograms when a woman has a history of breast cancer. She says she’s concerned that high risk people are not getting the mamograms they need. One of the legislators who’s co-sponsoring the bill says debate about the issue will hopefully highlight the grants and other programs that’re available to low-income women who can’t afford a mammogram. Critics of the bill say it’ll raise the price of health insurance, and there are already special boards to hear protests from policyholders who’re denied coverage for mammograms or other medical treatment.
Archives for January 2003
A Poweshiek County jury has found a Grinnell man found guilty of manslaughter in the shaking death of his three-month old daughter last January. 20-year-old Shane Dupee had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter Aliyah in the Grinnell apartment he shared with the girl’s mother. Two of DuPee’s infant siblings reportedly died of a genetic brain disease, and that was part of his defense. Defense attorney Brian Early believes that the medical testimony weighed in the jury’s decision.He says he believes the jury found there was no intent to commit serious injury in the case and that there were some health problems, including genetic problems, that may’ve contributed to the girl’s death. Early says the jury did apparently believe Dupee did something that unintentionally contributed to the girl’s death. Early says the ruling means Dupee will not spend the rest of his life in jail and likely won’t serve much more time.He says the maximum sentence for manslaughter is two years, and Dupee has already served over 390 days — the maximum he must serve before parole. Early says it’s like Dupee would be released after he’s sentenced on February 24th. Poweshiek County Attorney Mike Mahaffey brought the charges against Dupee and had this reaction to today’s verdict.Mahaffey says he’s thankful the jury found that something happened for which Dupee should be punished. Mahaffey agrees the medical testimony was a key in the jury deciding against the first-degree murder charge. He says perhaps some of the other problems the child had, and the fact there hadn’t been any other reports of abuse, went into the jury’s decision to rule the death was manslaughter.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says it’s almost certain the U.S. will go to war with Iraq in the next few weeks. Harkin, a democrat, says he’s found no evidence to back the republican administration’s reasons for going to war. Harkin says he’s re-read the president’s State of the Union address and says it is just “one supposition after another in terms of the so-called evidence.” Harkin says other things he’s heard about potential nuclear and biological weapons hidden by Saddam Hussein haven’t convinced him either. He says we have no proof “he has any of this stuff anywhere” and says he believes the president and his advisors have made up their minds they’re going to war. Harkin says the things the U.S. is doing right now are costing an estimate one billion dollars a week, and he says he has no idea what more action will cost.He says he has no way of knowing how long or short it will be and what the repercussions will be, neither does anyone else. He says the president is rushing headlong into the action without a firm grip on what the dimensions are going to be. On another topic, Harkin says the president has promised to revamp the Medicare system, but a review shows the president’s plan won’t solve one the biggest problems — a disparity in reimbursement payments.He says it won’t correct the unfair payment system that hurts Iowa. Harkin says the president’s plan doesn’t include a prescription drug benefit for seniors, which Harkin says will spell the death of the program. He says working Americans would have no guarantee that traditional Medicare will be there for them when they retire. Harkin says he’ll stand in the way of the president and his advisors letting Medicare “wither on the vine.”
Legislators may do away with the three-dollar limit on food and drink that lobbyists can buy them. The limit was established in the mid-90s after an ethics scandal. It means legislators are not to accept food or drink that costs more than $2.99 — so you can buy ’em a cup of coffee but not a bottle of scotch. Some complain it’s hard to get to know other legislators because there aren’t as many receptions with free-flowing food and beer. Senate Democrat Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs doesn’t want to get rid of the $2.99 limit which has ended the ‘wining and dining” of individual legislators, but he is interested in making it easier for groups to host receptions for the entire legislature, Gronstal says the law has limited the amount of contact legislators have with one another outside the statehouse, and he says that’s magnified the partisan rancor. Gronstal says it’s harder to become friends with other legislators because the number of social opportunities have been restricted. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says there’s an upside to having fewer freebies for lawmakers: legislators are spending more time at the statehouse working on business than going to parties at night or lunch with lobbyists during the day. Iverson, though, says he’s grown up in a culture where folks buy one another a meal as part of business, and he’d be willing to consider getting rid of the lobbyist spending limit.
In women’s basketball action tonight the Iowa Hawkeyes are at home to take on Indiana. The Hawks are 2-4 in the league race and after struggling on the road coach Lisa Bluder says they are glad to be back at home as January has been a tough month for the. Bluder expects her team to be ready to play as Indiana bounced them out of the tournament last year, so there’s some more motivation to face the Hoosiers. Indiana is 2-5 in the league race and Bluder says these teams are similar in that they’re young and trying to find themselves.
If you or your group are interested in helping keep Iowa clean, the Iowa Department of Transportation now has money available for you projects. the D-O-T’s Mary Christy says the money is from the first year of the “Keep Iowa Beautiful” tax checkoff. She says organizations are groups interested in getting some of the money must file an application that’s available at the D-O-t’s website. She says the exact criteria for the program won’t be completed until March, but there are some general guidelines set down in the law that created the checkoff.She says it has to be a project that will somehow beautify an area of the state, from cleaning up litter to painting. Christy says there’s not limit to the amount of money a group can be awarded. She says the only limit is the amount of money raised in the checkoff. Christy says around 55-thousand dollars was raised in the first year of the checkoff. Christy says anyone in the state can help when they fill out their Iowa taxes. She says you can help others by donating some money in the checkoff when you do your taxes. Christy says March 31st is the deadline for groups to apply for the funds.
Gateway released its fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday — the computer maker lost 72-million dollars or 22-cents a share and has lost money in eight of the last nine quarters. Gayle Rose, a financial analyst in Sioux City — where the company started, says Gateway chief Ted Waitt is trying to diversify. She says Waitt is moving into digital TV and some other things that are positive for Gateway. Gateway has a manufacturing facility in North Sioux City, South Dakota, just across the river from Sioux City, Iowa.
Iowa’s ban on packer ownership of livestock is alive — at least for a while. The federal judge who ruled a few days ago that the ban was unconstitutional has now issued a stay.Bob Brammer, a spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General, says a stay means the ruling won’t take effect until the state’s appeal has been ruled on by a higher court.Brammer says the state is appealing the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal court. The federal district court judge’s ruling here in Iowa means the law could be in effect for up to a year. He says these matters typically take most of the year for briefing, oral arguments and then a decision. Legislators are considering changes in the state law to respond to the judge’s conclusions.
While Iowa’s known for leading the world in corn production, hundreds of other farmers are growing all sorts of other produce that are in high demand. A three-day educational workshop opened this morning in Marshalltown that caters to those “alternate crop” growers, sponsored by the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. Naomi Maahs, the group’s president,says the first day will cover melon and pumpkin growing and marketing while day two will cover greenhouse growing, fruit and orchard growing, tomatoes and other vegetables. Maahs says she’s expecting hundreds of growers over the three-day workshop, some of whom only grow these alternative crops, others who are more typical Iowa producers. He says those who raise hogs and cattle have found niches in growing pumpkins and grapes too, along with other crops.Maahs says other niche crops that are growing in popularity include: sweet corn, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and cabbage. She says the third day of the workshop will focus on grape-growing and wine-making, a pair of related industries that are seeing a tremendous growth in Iowa in recent years. She says there are 150 to 200 people who usually show up to hear about grapes and wine-making. Maahs grows strawberries and raspberries in Dallas County near Adel. The conference is underway at the Best Western Regency in Marshalltown through Saturday.
The Iowa Safe Kids Coalition is urging legislators to pass a law that’d require parents to buy booster seats for preschoolers who’ve outgrown their car seat. Linda Plummer, the child advocate at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, is a member of the Safe Kids Coalition.Plummer says current Iowa law requires safety seats for any kid under the age of two, and a seat belt for kids who’re three, four or five. She says that leaves a lot of kids without adequate protection. Plummer says adult seat belts just aren’t designed for kids who’ve outgrown their baby seat.Plummer says about nine percent of children between the age of four and eight are restrained in booster seats. Plummer says young kids often put the shoulder harness behind ’em because it chokes their neck, and the lap belt ends up on their tummy.Plummer says in an accident, that causes lots of internal injuries, spinal damage and head and neck injuries from the severe whiplash. About 60 Iowa kids below the age of 18 are killed each year in car crashes, and Plummer says many of the younger ones weren’t properly restrained in a booster seat. Booster seats cost between 30 and 100 dollars, and critics of say it’s an unnecessary expense for cash-strapped parents. Plummer says there are private grants available to low income parents who need a booster seat. She says there’s a one-year phase in period for the bill, which will give people time to prepare. The Safe Kids Coalition also wants the legislature to pass a law that’d force kids between the age of six and 14 to be in a seat belt, regardless of where they’re sitting in the vehicle.