The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 14, 2006 · Page 9
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 9

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14,2006 WASHINGTON THE HAYS DAILY NEWS A9 Audit FEMA hoodwinked by evacuees Vii " inX failing to meet country's needs By LARRY MARGASAK ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Houston divorce lawyer Mark Llpkin says he can't recall anyone paying for his services with a FEMA debit card, but congressional investigators say one of his clients did just that. The $1,000 payment was just one example cited in an audit that concluded that up to $1.4 billion — perhaps as much as 16 percent of the billions of dollars in assistance expended after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — was spent for bogus reasons. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also was hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and a sex change operation, the audit found. Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency. "I do Katrina victims all the time," Lipkin, the divorce attorney, told The Associated Press. "I didn't know anybody did that with me. I don't think it's right, obviously." Government Accountability Office officials were testifying before a House committee today on their findings. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the subcommittee overseeing an investigation of post-hurricane aid, called the bogus spending "an assault on the American taxpayer." Rove avoids indictment, focuses on political agenda WASHINGTON (AP)—Karl Rove escaped being charged in the CIA leak case, ensuring that President George Bush would retain the everyday counsel of the shrewd and trusted aide who helped create his political personna, steer him into the Oval Office and mastermind his White House tenure. Now free of personal legal jeopardy — although he stilknay have D.J. PETERS / Associated Press Hurricane evacuees wait in line to apply for aid at the Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Tyler, Texas, in this Oct. 3, file photo. The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional Investigators have found. "Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time," he said. To dramatize the problem, investigators provided lawmakers with a copy of a $2,358 U.S. Treasury check for rental assistance that an undercover agent received using a bogus address. The money was paid even after FEMA learned from its inspector that the undercover applicant did not live at the address. FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Tuesday that the agency, already criticized for a poor response to Katrina, makes its highest priority during a disaster "to get help quickly to those in desperate need of our assistance," "Even as we put victims first, we take very seriously our responsibility to be outstanding stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are careful to make sure that funds are distributed appropriately," Walker said. FEMA said it has identified Briefs to testify at a trial—the president's all-around uber-aide can focus on trying to prevent Democrats from capturing the House or Senate. Rove has been praised by Bush as the "The Architect" and "Boy Genius." Bush upbeat about ability of Iraqis to establish peace WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, freshly home from a visit to Iraq, acknowledged today that violence in Iraq would never be completely eliminated. "That's not going to happen," he told a Rose Garden news conference. But Bush also said that Iraqi and coalition forces were stepping up their activities against insurgents, in part by using new intelligence gathered in raids following the killing of top Iraqi terrorist Hesaid an expectation of "zero violence" was unreasonable. "Ob- BIRDIES, EAGLES, AND SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES DON'T MISS THE ACTION AT THIS SUMMER'S BIGGEST EVENT. ORDER YOUR TICKETS TODAY. 2006 U.S, SENIOR OPEN JULY 3-9, 2006 PRAJRJE DUNES COUNTRY CLUB HUTCH1NSQN, KANSAS *2006* U&SENtOftOfEN MAIMIQUMM TICKIT1 AVAILABLE ATI * www.2006ussenioropen.com * 877-325-GOLF CHILDREN 17 AND UNDER ARE ADMITTED FREE WITH A TICKETED ADULT more than 1,500 cases of potential fraud after Katrina and Rita and has referred those cases to the Homeland Security Department's inspector general. The agency said it has identified $16.8 million in improperly awarded disaster relief money and has started efforts to collect the money. The GAO said it was 95 percent confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments were much higher — between $600 million and $1.4 billion. viously we would like violence to go down," Bush said. He said that a crackdown ordered by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that began on Wednesday, which includes more police and more checkpoints, was intended to decrease violence. "If we stand down too soon, it won't enable us to achieve our objectives," the president said. By LAURAN NEERGAARD ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Half a million times a year — about once every minute — an ambulance carrying a sick patient is turned away from a full emergency room and sent to another one farther away It's a sobering symptom of how the nation's emergency-care system is overcrowded and overwhelmed, "at its breaking point," concludes a major investigation by the influential Institute of Medicine. That crisis comes from just day-to-day emergencies. Emergency rooms are far from ready to handle the mass casualties that a bird flu epidemic or terrorist strike would bring, the institute warned today in a three-volume report. "If you can barely get through the night's 911 calls, how on earth can you handle a disaster?" asked report co-author Dr. Arthur Kellerman, Emory University's emergency medicine chief. That ERs are overburdened isn't new. But the probe by the IOM, an independent scientific group that advises the government, provides an unprecedented look at the scope of the problems — and recommends urgent steps for health organizations and local and federal officials to start fixing it. At the root of the problem: Demand for emergency care is surging, even as the capacity for hospitals, ambulance services and other emergency workers to provide it is dropping. There were almost 114 million emergency room visits in 2003, up from 90 million a decade earlier. During the same time, the total number of U.S. hospitals decreased by 703, and the number of ERs by 425. And the total number of hospital beds nationwide dropped by 198,000, as hospitals strive toward more outpatient care — which in turn leaves fewer beds for ER patients to move into when they're seriously ill. Before getting .to the hospital, RECOMMENDATIONS The Institute of Medicine has made the following recommendations to help improve the nation's emergency care problems: • Coordinate care so that ambulances don't waste potentially lifesavlng minutes wandering from hospital to hospital in search of an ER with room. The idea is to set up regionalized systems that manage the flow much like airports direct flight traffic. That also should direct patients not just to the nearest ER but to die one best equipped to treat their particular condition. • Congress should establish a pool of $50 million to reimburse hospitals for the unpaid emergency care they provide to the poor and uninsured. • Congress should ensure that more of the nation's disaster-preparedness funding goes to the hospitals and emergency workers who will provide that care. Typical government grants to hospitals for bioterrorism preparation are $5,000 to $10,000 — not enough to equip one critical- care room. • The board that accredits the nation's hospitals should establish strong guidelines to reduce crowding and ambulance diversion. the EMS system — emergency medical services that include ambulances and paramedics — is fragmented. How well-trained and prompt local paramedics are varies greatly; there are no nationwide standards. Many ambulance services can't even effectively communicate with hospitals or other first responders because of antiquated equipment. The American College of Emergency Physicians called the report groundbreaking but said Congress must heed recommendations to fund the necessary improvements. i Cardiovascular Screenings A d f & Sv June 24 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. DeBakey Heart Institute At HaysMedicalCenter The DeBakey Heart Institute will be offering Cardiovascular Screening exams for Atrial Fibrillation, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Stroke and Aortic Aneurysms. We also will provide information regarding treatment options, including the new Micro Maze procedure for Atrial Fibrillation. 17T* 17 TT' Atrial Fibrillation F JvlL IL Do I have it? * Do you have palpitations or irregular heartbeat? * Do you have chest discomfort? * Do you have light-headedness or shortness of breath? If you answered "YES" to any of the above questions, you are at risk of a cardiac arrhythmia. Peripheral Arterial Disease F JvlL JL Do I have it? * Do you have cramping, aching, or fatigue in your legs when you walk? * Do you have poorly healing ulcers on your feet or your toes? * Do you smoke, have hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol? If you answered "YES" to any of the above questions, you are at risk for having blockages in the leg arteries (PAD). Stroke Scan $25*00 Carotid Ultrasound with Doppler "Looks" inside the carotid arteries to detect early signs of plaque build-up. Sound waves "listen" to the blood flowing by the plaque build-up in the carotid arteries. Aortic Aneurysm Scan Abdominal Aorta Ultrasound "Looks" for abdominal aortic aneurysm. Aneurysm in the aortic artery (a "ballooning" of the artery wall) may cause the artery to burst. Pre-Registration is Required. To register call (785) 623-5130 betweem 7:00 a.ra. and 3:00 p.m. Sickle Pavilion 2220 Canterbury Dr. Hays, KS 67601 DBBAKEY HEART INSTITUTE 41 HaysMcdicalCeater www.hay8med.com

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