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Thursday, December 24, 2009 n s erving the community since 1908 n Join the conversation at n 50 cents

Spreading the cheer

Health bill would advance disability care
Of the 300 million total Americans, nearly 176 million — or 58 percent of the population — are covered by employer insurance, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Noriega couldn’t go that route. After By saNaNDa saHoo she sold her two restaurants, Noriega said she couldn’t find In 1997, DeAnna Noriega work through an employer owned and operated two res- because of her disability. taurants in Columbia. As a “It’s very hard to get self-employed small-business employed because the employowner, she could buy cover- er and other employees (in age for her husband and chil- that pool) have to pay higher dren — but not for herself premiums,” she said. — through her business. Employer-sponsored health Childhood glaucoma had insurance premiums have rendered her partially blind, nearly doubled since 2000, a and insurance companies rate three times faster than refused to cover her with this the rise of wages, “pre-existing condiaccording to the tion,” Noriega said. Kaiser Family FounShe didn’t need “I didn’t have dation. In 2008, the surgery; relatively a huge out- average premium inexpensive eye for a family plan of-pocket purchased through drops did the trick. “I didn’t have a (expense), an employer was huge out-of-pocket $12,680, nearly the (expense), but no annual earnings of a but no company would full-time minimumcompany insure me,” she wage job. said. would insure But going to the Noriega’s situa“individual” marme.” tion — not an unusuket is not attractive al one — might be DeAnnA noriegA either, as individual resolved if either of Suffers from glaucoma premiums are often the House or Senate higher than employhealth care reform er’s premiums. bills prevail. Both have proNoriega now works as the posed to end private insurers’ legislative liaison officer at practice of excluding people Services for Independent Livwith pre-existing conditions. ing, a nonprofit organization Health care reform propos- in Columbia that is required als also seek to prevent insur- by law to employ disabled ance companies from placing people. At least 51 percent of annual or lifetime caps on cov- its staff has to be people with erage. disabilities. Coverage will be extended The health insurance marto essential medical equip- ket can be a tough place to ment, such as wheelchairs and negotiate. But it’s especially augmentative communication difficult for people with disdevices, as well as prosthetics abilities with pre-existing and orthotics for skeletal or conditions and sometimes muscular deformities. expensive health needs. The Senate bill also seeks to “It is difficult for people establish a Community First with insurance, who have Choice option, which will coverage through employers encourage states to supply such as governments and uniMedicaid home- and commu- versities, to comprehend the nity-based attendant services. difficulty of getting health All of these proposals have insurance,” said Tim Harlan, huge implications for people former Missouri representawith disabilities, caregivers tive and attorney with Harlan, Harlan and Still in Columbia. and insurance companies. Please see DisaBility, page 6a

High premiums, independent living care and pre-existing conditions would be among the affected.

High premiums

toP: headlights of a passing car illuminate the lawn of sharon emery’s yard as the car slowly drives past the intricate christmas light display on saturday. emery’s late husband, Bob, created all the displays by hand. Bottom: A forest of trees dance to christmas music as part of the tenny-Brittian christmas display on sunday on West Boulevard.

Families use Christmas light displays to spark holiday spirits Some people string up Christmas lights as a holiday tradition. Some do it to compete with their neighbors. For two families in Columbia, their lighting displays mean much more. For Bill and Kris Tenny-Brittian, an elaborate Christmas display evolved from an argument. “Nineteen years ago he was a Grinch,” Kris Tenny-Brittian said about her husband. “There were no lights. He did not like Christmas, and we fought our whole first Christmas together.” With his wife’s prompting and

Photos and story by Elisa Day

determination, Bill “We’re very careTenny-Brittian caught ful,” Bill Tenny-Britthe holiday spirit, and tian said. “We try to be For an audio slide show their Christmas distasteful. I want a disof various Christmas display has become more play that makes people ornate over the years. smile and inspires plays in Columbia, go to them.” At their home on One of the benefits West Boulevard of their work is helping between Worley and Ash streets, they have built a display others catch the Christmas spirit. “As we’ve become more elaborate, with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, Rudolph neighbors and people nearby have and Santa, a slew of penguins in increased their decorating,” Bill scarves and a forest of dancing Tenny-Brittian said. “In fact, we trees. had a neighbor come to us this year Still, the couple remains conwanting us to see their decorations.” cerned about making it something people enjoy. Please see liGHts, page 6a

slide show

More hugs, Health reform stands on brink of Senate passage final vote is fewer bugs The for about dawn set for holidays today.
Prevnar, a children’s vaccine, could be a major preventative to spreading germs to older adults.
By aliCia CHaNG
The Associated Press LOS ANGELES — Holiday visits have become safer for grandparents thanks to a childhood vaccine that has dramatically curbed infections spread by children, a new study finds. For years, serious bacterial infections spiked among older adults around Christmas and New Year’s, presumably because of contact with germy children. Researchers report that only one such spike has occurred since 2000: when the vaccine Prevnar entered the market. The vaccine is advised for children under 2. It fights common types of strep bacteria that cause illnesses ranging from mild ear infections to severe pneumonia and meningitis. The vaccine has done “a terrific job of preventing trans-

By DaViD EsPo

The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Democrats pushed sweeping health care legislation to the brink of Senate passage Wednesday, crushing a year-end Republican filibuster against President Barack Obama’s call to remake the nation’s health care system. The 60-39 vote marked the

third time in as many days Democrats have posted a supermajority needed to advance the legislation. Final passage, set for about dawn today, was a certainty and will clear the way for talks with the House on a final compromise. Those negotiations likely will stretch into February. The Senate has met for 24 consecutive days to debate the legislation, the second-longest such stretch in history, and Democrats held a celebratory press conference. “We stand on the doorstep of

history,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who painstakingly pieced together the bill — and the now-controversial deals with wavering lawmakers that made its passage possible. The measure would extend coverage to an estimated 31 million who lack it, while banning the insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will reduce deficits by $130

billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that assumes lawmakers carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals and others who treat Medicare patients. Obama has also said he wants legislation that slows the rate of growth in medical spending nationwide, but the CBO said it has not determined whether that is the case with the bill. Unlike the House, the Senate measure omits a government-run insurance option,

which liberals favored to apply pressure on private insurers but Democratic moderates opposed as an unwarranted federal intrusion into the health care system. In an interview with PBS, Obama signaled he will sign a bill even if it lacks the provision. “Would I like one of those options to be the public option? Yes. Do I think that it makes sense, as some have argued, that, without the public option, we dump all these Please see Bill, page 4a

holiday information
Many businesses are closing early today, and others are closed on Christmas Day. For a list, go to

todAy’s WeAther
tem continues to pass to the southeast of central Missouri. Boone, Osage, Moniteau and Callaway counties also have been placed on a flood watch. Freezing rain or snow may also be possible later on, starting Thursday night into Friday As for a white Christmas, Sipprell said the Weather Service is forecasting upward of an inch and a maximum of 2 inches of snowfall on Christmas Day.
— Jonathan Arner

light it uP
LED Christmas lights provide a safer way to decorate for the holidays. Go to page 6A for an information graphic that shows how.

Wet weather to continue for holidays
The heavy rain that hit Columbia Wednesday likely will continue into Thursday. However, Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said the storm is on a path that would spare Columbia from the heaviest rains Thursday. The rain has caused some minor flooding in Cole County. Sipprell said the flooding wasn’t severe and shouldn’t get much worse as long as the sys-

today: Occasional rain. Temp: 51° tonight: Occasional rain before 9 p.m., changing to rain and snow before midnight. Temp: 21° Page 2A

mu defeAts illinois
The Missouri men’s basketball team defeated Illinois 81-68. It was Missouri’s first win against Illinois in a decade. Page 1B

Calendar Classified Life Stories Opinion Sports 2A 5B 8A 5A 1B

Our 102nd year/#73 2 sections 16 pages

Please see GErms, page 4a





Page 6A — THURSDAY, December 24, 2009

Columbia missourian

Disability: Bill looks to reduce Medicare spending
CONTINUED from page 1A

Pre-existing conditions clause
One of the proposals in the health care reform debate that has the potential to affect a large number of people seeking insurance coverage is the elimination of pre-existing conditions exclusions. “The pre-existing conditions clause is very broad, and people with extremely minor disabilities, such as well-controlled diabetes, can be denied insurance,” Harlan said. Insurance companies often don’t want to write policies for smokers and sometimes charge women more than men, Harlan said. “The problem got worse as we got accurate ways to test health conditions, which means people with no disabilities but with a propensity toward a condition might be denied coverage,” he said. A private company can decide whether to take on the health risk of a potential employee, and the decision may depend in part on how big the company is. If the company employs several thousand people, the costs are spread across all the employees. But if it is a small company with few workers, one higher-risk employee can make a difference in the company’s overall costs.

Harlan left the legislature prove that memory disability in 2002 and now specializes in is disabling,” Moody said. She Social Security benefits. He had hired Harlan. said he still hears complaints But short-term memory that a person’s disabilities loss is a disability, she said affect job prospects. because “it is difficult for me “I explain to them that that’s to remember what I did yeswhat the law allows,” he said. terday.” When Blue Cross Blue Shield started in Texas in the Independent living Moody lives at home and 1920s, the original intent was hires a personal assistant from to spread the risk, he said. “With private insurance the Services for Independent companies, the intent has Living who helps her buy groevolved into avoiding the ceries and reminds her to pay bills and take medicines. She risk,” Harlan said. It is also difficult to get prefers to stay at home rathcovered by Social Security er than move into a nursing home because benefits. In censhe said she is tral Missouri, it able to carry usually takes a out most daily person two and activities, such a half years to To read a list of specific as cooking and receive Social changes if the House or Security bene- Senate bill is passed, go to bathing, by herfits, Harlan said. self and doesn’t need nursing In some parts of home services. the country, the Organizations wait time is twice as much. Mary Moody is a 45-year- such as Services for Indepenold who has a neurological dis- dent Living help people with order that gradually increases serious disabilities carry on weakness in the legs and arms. their daily activities by proShe said she received disabil- viding direct services. Over ity benefits from the state for the years, however, cutbacks the disorder right after apply- in state funding for people ing. Later, when a brain injury with disabilities have affected caused her to have short-term services for assisted living, memory loss, she had to wait Harlan said. According to Jim Crane, years to receive disability office manager at Services benefits. “I had to get an attorney for Independent Living, the for this, but it was difficult to agency has already received

More info

notice of a 10 percent funding reduction from the Missouri Department of Transportation. Although the cut amounts to $500, Leslie Anderson, program manager at the organization, said she realizes funding reductions are inevitable. The agency receives funds through multiple sources. The money received from MoDOT supports the organization’s transportation program. The Services for Independent Living offers 1,200 free rides a month to people with disabilities to help buy groceries, go to doctor’s appointments, visit places of worship and attend community events. People come to know about its services through medical organizations and other outreach efforts. More than 100,000 people lost their services in the state when Missouri cut Medicaid funding in 2005, Anderson said. Medicaid reimbursement rates from the Consumer Directed Services program partially fund many of the agency’s services, including transportation, home modifications, such as ramps, and adaptive technology, such as emergency telephone dialing. “If people with serious disabilities live in nursing homes, it not only disrupts their daily lives but is also expensive for taxpayers,” Harlan said.


Leslie Anderson is a program manager at Services for Independent Living in Columbia. She has been working for the agency since 2007 but has been involved with organizations that provide assistance to people with disabilities since 1993.
There will be more funding cuts. Democrats want cutbacks in payments to home health agencies that provide nursing care and therapy to Medicare beneficiaries at their homes. Democrats said they want to eliminate waste and inefficiency in home care services. The health care bill looks to reduce Medicare spending on home care by $43 billion, or 13 percent of the current spending, over the next 10 years. The Democrats hope to fund coverage of uninsured people through the reductions. are usually higher than others, so they tend to exceed their cap easily. If the proposal makes its way into law, people with disabilities will find it a little easier to finance medical care.

Public option
A public option is one of the most important proposals for people with disabilities in the health care reform debate, Harlan said. People in rural counties find it is hard to get private insurance coverage because it costs companies more, he said. Right now it is unclear whether a public option will remain in the final bill. “But as a rural state, we should be concerned if a public option is not available,” Harlan said. Other proposals that could affect people with disabilities are still on the table. Cuts in funding, meanwhile, continue to affect organizations such as Services for Independent Living. “With each round of cuts, we will have to become more creative in seeking funding opportunities,” Anderson said.

Prohibition of lifetime caps
The health care reform bill also proposes a revision of private insurance company regulations that will increase the number of insured people. It would bar insurance companies from placing lifetime limits or unreasonable annual limits on individual and group health plans. “Once the policy holder crosses the cap, it is as good as having no insurance,” Harlan said. And for people with disabilities, the treatment costs

The tradition of holiday lighting originated centuries ago, but LED lights available today promise improved safety, reduced energy costs as well as overall better illumination. Research and graphics by Kourtney Geers
Christmas trees are adorned with candles attached with wax or small pins.

Edward Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white and blue bulbs and wound them around a rotating evergreen tree.

The rst commercial light sets are offered to businesses for use in window displays.

The cost of electric lights drops; electricity becomes readily available in homes.

Retailers market a variety of lighting, experimenting with bulb shape and colors.

Nick Holonyak invents a practical light-emitting diode, LED.

LED Christmas lighting is rst made available for commercial consumption.

The Capitol Christmas tree is lighted using only LED lighting.

Although LED holiday lights have a higher purchase price than traditional incandescent lights, they quickly pay for themselves through energy savings. LEDs also have a greater longevity than the traditional options, lasting an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 hours.

Lights: Habitat for Humanity among benefiting charities
CONTINUED from page 1A This year, members of the Old Wheels Car Club, a group Adds Kris Tenny-Brittian: to which both Kavanaugh and “The other night, a family Bob Emery belonged, banded was out there with this little together to help erect the disgirl dancing in the yard with the music. It keeps you going, play to continue Bob Emery’s dream. and you want to do it more.” “I wasn’t going to put them For Sharon Emery, a holiup,” Sharon Emery said. “I’m day light display on Stirling so glad now that they forced Court, off Highland Drive, is me to do it. It’s helping me about carrying on her husget through the band’s legacy. holidays. The first Bob Emery, couple weeks, who died this “It’s a very I couldn’t be in spring, made his comforting any of the rooms displays by hand. He included a feeling to be out facing the street. I hid in my baserace car in honor there with the ment to avoid of Carl Edwards, a church with a lights. I feel like them.” all That swinging bell, a gingerbread my husband’s changed when she started talking to house and a with me.” people. Hearing Nativity scene. how much the After people SHaron EMEry display meant to began driving Christmas light decorator Columbia over the by the house, he years changed decided he wanther mind. ed to make a difference by “Now I love them all the raising money for Habitat for Humanity. He set out a dona- more,” Emery said. “It’s a very comforting feeling to tion tin can. be out there with the lights. “His goal was always to I feel like my husband’s with raise enough money to help me.” Habitat for Humanity build Nightly she collects donaa house,” said family friend tions and greets everyone Kenneth Kavanaugh. who drives by to see her hus“We chose Habitat for band’s masterpiece. She often Humanity because 90 pergives away hugs of gratitude cent of what we collect stays right here in the community,” to those who donate. “I feel like I’m surrounded Sharon Emery said. “It’s the by the love of the commupeople of Columbia giving nity,” she said. back to Columbia.”

Lighting for an 8-foot tree for five hours per day for 30 days; Energy cost is calculated at $.0823/kilowatt hour.

$2 LED mini-ice (280 bulbs on four strings, 14 watts) LED C7 (300 bulbs, 24 watts) Incandescent premium mini-lights (300 bulbs, 108 watts) Incandescent standard mini-lights (300 bulbs, 144 watts) Incandescent C7 (125 bulbs, 750 watts)






Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are found in many devices such as digital clocks, watches and appliances. They can be collected together to form television screens or traffic lights. The perks of LEDs are that they are tiny energy efficient light bulbs that easily fit into an electrical circuit.

Current from the wires passes forward direction, from the anode post to the cathode post, which causes negative electrons and positive holes to move in opposite directions. Free electrons exist at a higher energy level than the holes. This causes the free electron to lose energy when it falls into the hole. The energy emitted takes the form of a light photon. The size of an electron’s fall determines its energy level, which in turn determines the color of the photon. A higher fall produces a higher energy level and also a higher light frequency.

Emitted light Nearly indestructible colored epoxy casing Dome lens


Wedge wire bond

Anode post


Cathode post; reflector cup Negative Positive

Holiday lights and other decorative lighting were involved in an estimated average of 170 home structure fires per year from 2003 to 2007, according to the National Fire Protection Association. LEDs, unlike, incadescents, reduce the risk of fire since the bulbs do not get hot to the touch.


By month from 2003 to 2007
50 percent 40 30


Instead of just tossing lights out, consider these sustainable options:
Create twist-ties from discarded wire; reuse old bulbs in crafts or create jewelry designs from excess material. Give away old lights or use a trading program like Freecycle, or donate them. For more information on criteria for donation visit these Web sites:, or


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A colorful display of candy canes and Christmas lights decorates a house Tuesday on Stratford Court in northwest Columbia.

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