State of the City-Mayor Schroer will give his State of the City address in a multi-media presentation in Liberty Hall at the Factory on April 21 at 7:30 am. A light breakfast will be included and it is free to the public. Look forward to seeing some highlights of what the City is doing.
Census 2010-Everyone should have received their 2010 census form by now. Completing and returning the survey is extremely important because the result will be used to determine the number of representatives each state has for congress and the amount of money our City will receive for services for children and the elderly, roads, and other local needs. Your answers are confidential. So please complete and return your form.
Major Thoroughfare Plan-The City is currently revising its major thoroughfare plan utilizing a travel demand model that will help and predict the demand on our roads in 2035. It considers collectors and arterials and helps planners on the State level project needs into future years. The effort is a needs assessment and not a funding document and is a long range planning tool.
Harpeth River Restoration and Removal of the Low Head Dam-Removal of the low head dam has been discussed along with the future of the water treatment plant over the past several years. The dam causes a nearly two mile long pool impoundment and its removal will reconnect 36 miles of the river and restore the normal bed of the river. A $1 million dollar project partially funded by a grant of $350,000 grant would restore the river to its natural state and also repair the banks and create a boat launch area across from the water treatment plant. The remaining funds would come from other capital and in-kind matching funds some of which has already been identified from the private and non-profit sector. This effort would not impair the water intake for the water treatment plant but in fact may improve it. The project also would not affect what the City is currently doing with the “integrated water resources plan” that it is currently developing and would not alter the ability to produce water at the current water treatment plant.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure-The digital age continues to touch all of our lives and the next place could be our water meters. This wireless technology would allow remote monitoring of water meters for billing and also identifying possible leaks well before the monthly reading as we have now. The new technology could reduce labor, equipment, and fuel costs in the future. This preliminary stage of study will set the stage for further research and evaluation prior to any approval.
Curbside Recycling Program-The Board approved leasing three mini-packer trucks that will be used in the curbside recycling program that is targeted to begin on July 12, 2010. In the coming months, look for flyers that will accompany your water bill for information and implementation.
Community Development Block Grant-Franklin like many other cities receives funding under this program. Clay Matthews of the City works with the Affordable Housing Task Force to identify how to use these funds that are regulated by Federal guidelines. The process identifies the needs, develops strategies to address the needs, and then allocates funds. At present these funds do three things:
- Emergency Home Repair- $160,000 (qualifying elderly people with need of roof, window, door, etc. repair)
- Fair Housing Actions/education-$15,000
- Community Based Development-$50,000 (Hard Bargain would be an example)
Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act-Since the historic passage of this act on March 21, 2010, I have been asked about my opinion as a physician. Many have felt uncomfortable with the take it or leave it appearance of the process and also the haste to alter a portion of the economy that represents almost 18% of the GDP. The reports of deal making for votes again raised the ire of citizens against politicians.
My impression is that most physicians recognize that the current method of healthcare delivery, the rising cost, and the uninsured are not a viable option for the future. What has now passed and has been signed into law by President Obama to many of us may be more about what it doesn’t do as to what it does do. The fact that 32 million uninsured will now have insurance in laudable but the question many raise is that it is now a requirement. The elimination of pre-existing condition and the increased competition among insurers is a good thing. Emphasis on quality of care and disease management is applauded by all. Greater emphasis on evidence based medicine and performance measures may increase quality.
However, there has been division among the house of medicine with the AMA supporting the bill and many of our specialty societies including my own opposing it. Issues that I am concerned about are:
- Creation of an unaccountable Medicare Advisory Board without sufficient checks and balances
- Lack of reform of the Medicare payment formula
- Mandatory participation in the flawed Physician Quality Reporting Initiative
- Direct access to physical therapy which in the past has been mostly upon physician referral
- Limitation of physician hospital ownership which has been more in the area of specialty hospitals
- Failure to adequately address medical liability reform
- Can our system handle the influx of this many patients?
- Access by Medicare and Medicaid patients to physicians will continue to decrease
- Rationing of some forms of treatment
- Memories and horror stories on the implementation of TennCare in Tennessee
- The burden of paying for it all
It appears that there will be a series of challenges on both the federal and state level going forward. I hope that in the process we do arrive at a better way to deliver health care that is quality focused, available to all without undue burden on small businesses, improves the health of our nation, and creates a sustainable system.
As to how it will affect the City of Franklin, it is too early to tell but there is concern that will cause an overall increase in cost to the City.