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Front Page » Authors » Bio for Craig Gunther » Archives for Craig Gunther

By Craig Gunther on November 9, 2009

Equal rights for gay and lesbian people are very important to me. As an unmarried person at age 31, people sometimes assume that I am gay because of my fervent support for these issues. It's at times like these that I remind people that civil rights aren't just about us as individuals, but all of us collectively as a society. The world will judge us on how we treat fellow members of our society, as it should.

Lately, I have been very disappointed in referenda across the United States. In 2004, we had the Constitutional ban in Kansas, even though gay marriage was already illegal. Oh, the things the right does to whip up their base. Then there was Proposition 8 in California, supported by voters at the time they selected our nation's first African-American president. A tad bit of irony there. Most recently, we had Question 1 in Maine. It was a relatively close vote, but a failure nonetheless. I see myself as a strong populist who values democracy, but I think certain measures are too sacred to be placed on the ballot. Civil rights is one of those measures. We might not have made the progress we did if civil rights were placed on the ballot in the 1860's or in the 1960's. Same thing with gay rights today.

The most frustrating barrier to gay rights for me is when folks can't separate them from the theological interpretations they subscribe to. Based on what I've read, the Christian Bible doesn't seem to condemn slavery, but I don't know anyone who thinks slavery is moral or ethical. Marriage or civil rights in the United States should have fundamentally nothing to do with Christianity. Most people probably get married in a big church, with a beautifully fancy ceremony officiated by their clergy and that is fine if that's what they want. However, marriage is fundamentally a legal contract between two consenting adults. Nothing to do with organized religion. (Nothing to do with animals, either. I'm looking at you Kansas Senator Dennis Pyle.) That's why some people can choose a simple ceremony in a courthouse before a judge. The church is not to be the marriage police in our society, although many citizens and elected officials give it that credence. Give gay people the right to marry. Churches aren't being asked to sanction gay marriage, so why is it any of their business? I've seen churches function as political action committees too many times for my taste. JesusPAC might be okay, but at least file the right paperwork and be consistently in step with the message of Christ.

Read more of this post here ...

By Craig Gunther on November 6, 2009

American Nurses Association (ANA) President Becky Patton sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on behalf of the nation's nurses strongly supporting HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. ANA has always been and remains committed to “the principle that health care is a basic human right and that all persons are entitled to ready access to affordable, quality health services.” One of the chief roles that a nurse has is that of patient advocate, so it is no surprise that nurses support this legislation on behalf of the people we serve.

As a registered nurse and a member of the ANA in Kansas, I am proud that the primary national professional organization representing our nation's 2.9 million registered nurses has taken a stand on what is clearly an essential component of reform, the public option. Nurses are the largest group of clinical health care professionals that exist in our system, so Congress should listen to us when we step up in support of legislation that is vital to the well being of our patients. The public option is the only reasonable approach to ensure choice and competition. Anything less is a facade.

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By Craig Gunther on October 12, 2009

In politics, it is often said that timing is everything. That may be partially true, but it doesn't hurt to have a supremely qualified, hard working and well respected candidate to boot. Especially when you are talking about someone with broad-based, in-depth legislative experience regarding health care and taxation while understanding how the Federal government has often failed State governments as of late by not shouldering its fair share of the fiscal burden.

It made my day Friday when I heard Senator Laura Kelly had announced her run for the Second District Congressional seat, which couldn't have come at a better time when you look at the challenges facing our state and nation.

Read more of this post here ...

By Craig Gunther on September 23, 2009

Today, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced a new measure to protect seniors from being exploited by fraudulent schemes: The Senior Consumer Advisory Council.

“Our experience shows us that seniors are often targeted by scams and fraud. This new advisory council will help us stay ahead of the curve in our effort to protect elderly Kansans from consumer fraud,” Six said.

The Kansas Attorney General's office reports that seniors are being targeted more frequently as of late by mail and email scams as well as identity theft and other types of financial fraud. Taking advantage of the elderly is about as low as it gets, especially when their life savings are having a hard time keeping pace with inflation and their Social Security checks are withering. I think that one of the reasons seniors are so vulnerable to these types of fraud is there weren't so many dishonest business practices and fraudulent schemes in years past. Folks used to be able to do business with a hand shake and a nod, and you could better trust a person for their word.

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By Craig Gunther on September 23, 2009

Last week, Sarah Tidwell, BSN, MS, RN, the legislative chairperson for the Kansas State Nurses Association met with Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Lynn Jenkins while in Washington, DC to share with them what nurses in Kansas want to see contained in health care reform legislation. The following is a summary of what Mrs. Tidwell shared with them while she was in DC and is the body of written correspondence sent to Sen. Sam Brownback, Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Todd Tiahrt and Rep. Dennis Moore on behalf of Kansas nurses and the patients we care for:

The Kansas State Nurses Association supports a health care system that is patient-centered, comprehensive, accessible, and delivers quality care for all. To achieve this, we must have a workforce policy that fully recognizes the vital role of nurses and other health care providers. Healthcare reform should include the following points:

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By Craig Gunther on September 20, 2009

Back in April of 2009, the United Steelworkers of America filed a Section 421 trade case with the U.S. International Trade Commission noting how imports of tires for passenger vehicles and light trucks have surged in recent years disrupting the market here in America. From 2004 to 2009, 4,400 tire manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S with an additional 2,400 jobs lost and two plant closings just this year. American made tires accounted for 63% of the U.S. Market in 2004 and dropped to below 50% in 2008. During that time, Chinese imports went from being 5% of the market to 17%. Unfair trade of this magnitude should have been prohibited pursuant to US law and China's agreement upon entry into the World Trade Organization.

Read more of this post here ...

By Craig Gunther on September 18, 2009

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment recently received a grant of $576,000 from the Centers for Disease Control to work toward eliminating infections patients receive while being cared for in our hospitals and other facilities such as doctors' offices and nursing homes. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allotted a total of $40 Million to help states combat this growing problem.

This grant is particularly valuable as many infections acquired in this manner are increasingly resistant to conventional antibiotic therapy. Examples of these pathogens are vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficlile (C-diff). These problematic infections can occur while patients have long-term indwelling urinary catheters, and may also affect surgical incisions post-operatively. These super bugs are particularly dangerous when the infection advances and enters the blood stream, potentially causing septic shock and death if prompt, aggressive action isn't taken. Appropriate isolation practices regarding infected patients and scrupulous hand hygiene are key in mitigating risks in health care settings.

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By Craig Gunther on September 16, 2009

Numerous health insurance reform bills are emerging in the House and Senate that have many favorable common features. However, much disagreement remains as to what the core measure of reform in the health insurance exchange should be: CO-OPs vs. a public option. In recent weeks, while following the work of the Senate Finance Committee it seemed as if the rub preventing a bi-partisan compromise was the public option. Today, this committee's bill has emerged without a public option and still no Republican signed onto it.

First of all, many of the non-profit insurance companies that monopolize the markets in states today started off as CO-OPs. As they grew, they retained no accountability to the customer. The fact that they are “not-for-profit” ensures that they reap huge tax breaks and while doing so they often offer weak benefits and deny claims while increasing co-pays and deductibles. Meanwhile, they pay their executives excessive salaries and bonuses while stockpiling cash in creative ways eliminating the possibility of cost-control measures and driving health care inflation through the roof.

Read more of this post here ...

By Craig Gunther on September 13, 2009

Nurses in Kansas and across the nation have joined President Obama in pushing for health insurance reform. One of the longstanding purposes of the Kansas State Nurses Association is working for the “improvement of health standards and the availability of health care services for all people.” One of the chief roles a nurse has is to be a staunch patient advocate, so it's no surprise we stand boldly for reform. This past weekend, I had a discussion with a colleague who practices in the Kansas City, KS area about the current health insurance reform debate and our first-hand observations as nurses. She underscored the need for urgent reform from not only a practical perspective, but also touched on the political ramifications that command we take action now: "We see the reality of the need for health care insurance reform everyday in the lack of suitable coverage for our patients, decisions on how our long our patients can be hospitalized, in how carefully we must nurse our documentation to qualify for reimbursement, the cost of our own health care policies, and the unsustainable costs to the state and federal government.  For those who insist on obstructive negativity in even talking about how to deal with the health care insurance problem, beware, the likelihood of approaching this problem again in the future will be low with such a high political cost being evident,” she said.

Read more of this post here ...

By Craig Gunther on September 7, 2009

On this Labor Day, I tip my hat to the men and women of the labor movement. While celebrating the accomplishments of the American worker, I also envision better times ahead for the 7.7% of Kansans and 9.7% of Americans who are struggling to find jobs.

I am personally grateful for the ways in which labor has enriched my own life having been raised on union wages with access to excellent, comprehensive health care benefits growing up. Additionally, my mother was able to stay at home with my brother and I during our more formative years because my father earned a fair wage. My father is a member of the United Steelworkers Local 307 and works at the Goodyear plant in Topeka. My grandfather retired from the same Goodyear plant in the 1980s and belonged to the United Rubber Workers Local 307 before this union merged with the Steelworkers. He originally started working temporarily at Goodyear in the 1950s to help pay off his farm debts, but found union wages and benefits useful in meeting his responsibilities providing for his family.

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