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Health care reform at top of her list

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08) will be in Farmington Thursday with information about health care and to announce federal funding for methamphetamine intervention and drug treatment as well as request action from constituents on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to require the tracking of greenhouse gas emissions.

Emerson will meet with BJC Behavioral Health Center staff at 1:30 p.m. to announce federal funds for early-intervention and treatment directed at young people addicted to methamphetamine. She secured $900,000 to establish the project in the FY 2009 appropriations legislation.

“Meth use is a serious matter at any age, but it is particularly sad when young people under the age of 18 use this highly-addictive drug,” Emerson said. “The BJC Behavioral Health center can play a primary role in caring for these children and helping to turn their lives around. There is a significant gap in this kind of care in our region, and I know I speak for every law enforcement officer in our area when I say I am very glad these kids can come to Farmington to get the help they need.”

The Center is located at 1805 Maple Street in Farmington.

Emerson will hold a health care forum to hear from St., Francois County and area medical experts, advocates and providers about their ideas to improve local and national programs. The health care forum, which is open to the public, runs from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Farmington Chamber of Commerce meeting room, 302 North Washington, Farmington.

The meeting will include invited guests from the health care field.

The stop is one of five meetings across the district in which Emerson will discuss her approach to health care reform issues up for debate in the U.S. Congress.

Emerson is a key supporter of rural health care and cost-control measures for prescription drugs.

“Especially in an economic downturn, there is no more important issue to every American than health care,” she said. “It affects workers and their families who are facing cutbacks, disabled and senior citizens living on fixed incomes, and children without insurance. For all of these groups, one serious illness is all that stands between getting by and utter catastrophe.

“My goal is to hear from the people who deal with real-life issues every day. Then we can identify where the problems are worst and start to address them without cutting anyone’s benefits or compromising the standard of care.”

Emerson said she is confident that significant health care reform can be accomplished in the U.S. House of Representatives if congressional leaders will listen to members of both parties.

“It doesn’t matter if a good idea comes from a Democrat or a Republican – we all represent Americans who have health care at the top of their list,” she explained. “Our system of health care is excellent, but access to affordable care is often impossible. Likewise, Americans pay the world’s highest prices for prescription drugs, and we have plenty of opportunities to improve access to generic medicines, increase price competition for name-brand drugs, and assure taxpayer-funded programs get the best value for our money.”

Preserving patient choice and personal relationships with their physicians is a priority for Emerson

“I’m sure I’ll hear a lot at these forums about what is wrong with the existing system, but I am also interested in what is working well,” Emerson said. “In rural parts of our country, there are tremendous opportunities to use technology to strengthen our health care delivery system. We also face tremendous issues on access, particularly when the nearest hospital can be half-a-county away.

“Our best asset by far is the group of talented men and women who choose to work in the health care sector in rural Missouri. They really have the compassion and the skill set our entire system depends upon.”

As for the EPA proposal, Emerson has asked her constituents to submit comments on the issue. Emerson said that  rule has been cited as a first step toward the federal taxation on emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and other gases.

According to the EPA Web site,, the proposal is in response to the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764; Public Law 110–161),

The proposed rule would collect comprehensive emissions data to inform future policy decisions.

EPA proposes that suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases,  manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of greenhouse gas emissions must submit annual reports to EPA

The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride and hydrofluorinated ethers.

Earlier this week, Emerson asked businesses and government entities to submit comments about the proposed rule.

“Even a rule requiring the measurement of these gases will place a tremendous regulatory burden on many Southern Missouri businesses, from bakeries to manufacturers to energy producers,” she asserted. “It costs money to implement these procedures, and this rule opens the door to even more costly taxes and fines down the road.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is required to accept comments from the public on the proposed rule for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, which occurred on April 10. More information about the proposed rule, as well as instructions for comment submissions is available online at http:/ The comment period is open until June 9.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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