Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Celebrate Mothers as the World's Unsung Heroes

By Sen. John Boozman and Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children

May 08 2014

Originally published in "The Hill" May 8, 2014 

In the wake of April’s terrible storms, too many lives have been lost and communities devastated. While Arkansans and our neighbors are all too familiar with the destruction that Mother Nature can leave behind, it never gets easier. 

Just ask Cathy Wilson, an amazing grandmother who protected four-year-old Aria with her own body during a tornado hit at a learning center just one year ago. As the wind began to lift Aria from the bathroom floor where they sheltered, Cathy grabbed the little girl’s leg and pulled her back to safety. 

In a few days we will celebrate Mother’s Day. When our families gather, we’ll think about how heroic mothers like Cathy become when their families must flee their homes in terror and despair. For love of children, mothers risk and often sacrifice their own lives. 

Yet we are increasingly troubled by statistics showing that in unprecedented emergencies at home and abroad, mothers and children face particularly horrific challenges. 

This week, Save the Children released its 15th annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report. The report looks at where mothers fare the best and worst. It shines a light on the more than 60 million women and children living within conflict and catastrophe, offers effective solutions to meet critical needs, and recommends policy improvements. 

It reminds us that whether in Mayflower, Arkansas, Tupelo, Mississippi, or Tacloban, Philippines, when a family faces crisis, normalcy is shattered. Children are traumatized and at great risk of physical, emotional, and psychological harm.  

Worldwide, in emergencies women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die of injuries and deprivation.  In fact, more than half all maternal and child deaths occur in areas beset by conflicts and natural disasters. 

Without a doubt, the statistics are most alarming in developing nations: In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, it is statistically more dangerous to be a woman or child than an armed fighter.

At the same time, here at home, in the 15 years since the first “State of the World’s Mothers” was first released, the United States has fallen in rank from fourth to 31st. 

But there are hopeful indicators, even in the most troubled areas of the world.  Afghanistan, which was the worst place to be a mother in 2010 and 2011, actually improved this year—moving up 32 places.  

As we observe Mother’s Day this year, let’s ensure that Afghanistan’s improvements become the norm. Relief workers must have access in conflict areas, so mothers and children can receive adequate food and health care.  Children must be able to go to school, receive uninterrupted care, and have safe places to play. We must advocate for mothers and promote disaster preparedness. We have in Arkansas, and I’m proud that we meet all four minimum standards for having comprehensive emergency plans in place in schools and child care centers as recommended by the National Commission on Children and Disasters.  

But more work remains to be done. Let’s make everyday a day to honor and protect mothers around the world. 

Sen. John Boozman (R.-Ark) has served since 2011. He previously held a seat as U.S. Representative for the state’s Third District. He and his wife, Cathy live in Rogers, Arkansas, and have three daughters and one granddaughter. 

Carolyn Miles is the President and CEO of Save the Children. She and her husband, Brendan, live in Fairfield, Connecticut, and have two sons and one daughter.

Thank You Nurses

May 07 2014

Nurses play an important role in our healthcare system. They are on the frontlines of administering care, providing patient assistance and responding to emergencies. The 3.1 million nurses nationwide are the largest providers of healthcare in the country. 

Having worked with nurses for a number of years as a medical professional I understand the critical service they deliver to patients and how important they are to physicians. As we observe National Nurses Week, we recognize the commitment, dedication and the lives nurses touch through caregiving, research and health education. 

In Arkansas we are reminded of the importance of nurses to our community and our country’s history through the help of the Red Cross. Before Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross, she was a nurse who risked her life to help injured Civil War soldiers. We see the commitment Barton instilled in the American Red Cross continue today and the important help the Red Cross provides in disaster stricken areas after tornadoes recently took lives, devastated homes and tore apart communities in central Arkansas. 

I was blessed to experience first-hand the type of support, compassion and dedication the nursing profession routinely provides during my recent stay at Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Arkansas. These talented men and women provided such excellent care for me in such a thoughtful manner that they not only provided comfort for me but also my family in the days following my surgery. I am grateful to have these talented nurses help me on my road to recovery. 

They are just some of the 23,550 registered nurses practicing in Arkansas who offer critical assistance to patients every day. Nurses are on the frontlines of healthcare delivery and are often the first line of communication when something is wrong or we have questions about our health. They are a beacon of hope when people are at their most vulnerable. Their tireless, hands-on work helps save lives. They are our healthcare heroes. 

Nurses are uniquely situated in our healthcare system to offer practical improvements to healthcare delivery, patient service and emergency response. They are more than just healthcare providers. They wear many hats. Nurses are truly a gift from God. During National Nurses Week, I am pleased to recognize them and all they do for their patients and for all they have done for me.

We’ve all heard of the power of prayer. I am confident that prayers are being showered on Arkansas as we begin our process of mourning and recovery from the devastating tornados that tore through our state. I know these prayers are very much appreciated. 

On this National Day of Prayer we are reminded of the role of prayer and religion in the foundation of our nation. Our founding fathers made this clear in historical documents that have influenced our democracy and laws for hundreds of years. A call to prayer began when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in the formation of our nation and we follow this tradition every day when the Senate meets, we begin with a prayer. Today, we recognize our religious heritage as we celebrate the National Day of Prayer which I am confident will continue for hundreds of more years. 

I’m proud to support the National Day of Prayer that was signed into law in 1952 and amended in 1988 to permanently set the day of observance as the first Thursday in May. Each year since then, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. This year has been no different. 

I believe it’s our responsibility to uphold the values we were taught growing up, and because of that, I will continue to fight to uphold the right of religious expression. It is now more evident than ever our country needs our prayers. May God bless you and may God bless America.

Since January 1, 2014, 129 people in the U.S. have been infected with measles, a significant increase according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These numbers reflect the biggest outbreak since 1996. 

While a vaccine has been available to protect against the measles since 1963, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there were 122,000 measles deaths globally in 2012, about 14 deaths every hour. 

Fortunately, we have the capability to prevent death from measles and other deadly diseases thanks to vaccines. According to WHO, up to three million lives could be saved each year if childhood vaccines reached all children who need them. The U.S. is leading this effort at home and abroad. 

In 1994, the CDC launched the Vaccines for Children program (VFC) to help vaccinate children whose parents might not be able to afford vaccines. USAID, the federal agency tasked with improving lives in developing countries uses campaigns like vaccination programs and expanded health initiatives to save lives. The U.S. is also a contributor to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI).  Established in 2000, this public-private partnership has helped immunize more than 440 million children, saving 6 million lives. Our help has made a difference but there is still more work to do.

As we recognize World Immunization Week we need to reaffirm our commitment to protecting children from vaccine-preventable deaths. Vaccinations are cost-effective, efficient and help save lives. We have a responsibility to help children in need, no matter where they live. As individuals we also have an obligation to make sure we are up-to-date with our own vaccinations. Through efforts like these, we are making great strides to help children worldwide fight preventable diseases.


World Malaria Day

Apr 25 2014

The world recognizes April 25th of each year as World Malaria Day. As a member of the

Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and founder and former co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, I support providing the tools and resources necessary to people around the globe in order to combat this infectious disease. 

Despite its eradication in the U.S. more than 50 years ago, malaria remains a leading cause of death worldwide. We’ve seen great progress in the effort to eliminate the disease across the globe thanks to the efforts of public and private organizations. World Health Organization (WHO) data shows mortality rates have fallen by 42 percent globally since 2000 and by 49 percent in the WHO African Region. 

WHO estimates that in 2012, malaria resulted in 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. Having had the opportunity to travel to Africa, I have seen firsthand the devastation malaria causes the young and the poor. The good news is that this disease is preventable, treatable and curable, but it will take the combined efforts of the U.S., the international community, NGO’s, and the private sector to put an end to this tragedy, and I’m committed to continuing to work to make that happen. 

We need to sustain the successful efforts that are helping save lives. Spraying homes with insecticides in targeted areas and providing families insecticide-treated bed nets to sleep under are methods to prevent the spread of malaria. There are also medicines that treat malaria and work continues on a malaria vaccine.  

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) is actively working to rid the world of malaria. The group released its Eighth Annual Report to Congress and it shows significant progress has been made thanks to the investments made by our country. The U.S. can and should be very proud of our efforts to end malaria deaths.


Protecting Water Quality

Reining in EPA

Apr 21 2014

I’ve heard from many Arkansans about their concerns with the EPA’s recent announcement that the agency will try to claim jurisdiction over almost all waters across our country – including ditches and other waters never before regulated by DC bureaucrats. We’re working to stop this overreach. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, that has oversight over our nation’s water policies, Congress made it clear that under the Clean Water Act some waters are protected by the federal government, while other waters are protected by state and local governments or through private, voluntary action. 

The House recently passed legislation repealing the 30-hour work week rule, and I support efforts in the Senate to do that same. That’s why I cosponsored the Forty Hours is Full Time Act.

This legislation would change the Obamacare definition of full-time to 40 hours per week. 

Obamacare threatens job creation. The healthcare law forces companies to comply with the employer mandate that requires all businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance to their staff or pay a penalty. With the costs of health care skyrocketing, businesses that may want to hire more employees will instead spend more money meeting the requirements of Obamacare. 

We need to create policies that incentivize employers to hire and expand their business. Instead, Obamacare discourages job creation and gives businesses a reason to cut employee hours. Under the law, a full-time employee is defined as an individual working a minimum of 30 hours a week. The employer mandate has caused some businesses to stop hiring if they are close to that 50 full-time employees threshold and cut workers’ hours to less than 30. 

According to a Hoover Institution study 2.6 million Americans making under $30,000 are at risk of having their hours and wages cut as a result of Obamacare’s definition of full-time. The rule disproportionately impacts young, low-wage workers.

  • 60 percent are between the ages of 19 and 34
  • 90 percent do not have a college degree.
  • 63 percent are women.
  • More than 600,000 workers in the retail trade, 225,000 workers in the education industry, and 589,000 workers in restaurants, are at risk of having their hours and wages cut.

Today is the tax filing deadline. I want Arkansans to understand my commitment to creating an easy tax code that Americans can understand. I also want to update you on our efforts to push for accountability and transparency at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in light of the recent scandal. The IRS oversees our tax policy and has a responsibility to treat all taxpayers fairly under the law. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. That's why I joined efforts to hold the agency accountable and to make it more transparent by cosponsoring The Stop IRS Overreach Act (S.2043) and The Taxpayer Accountability Act (S.2044).

Week in Review: April 7-11

Secretary Sebelius announces resignation, two Arkansas Chambers of Commerce visit DC, a 70th Anniversary of D-Day Resolution is introduced and more in this “Week in Review.”