A business-led group based in Kansas City, Mo., is leading an effort to quadruple Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax and direct the proceeds to early childhood health and education programs.
Organizers of the “Raise Your Hand for Kids” campaign on Friday outlined their plan for a statewide ballot initiative to an audience of about 100 business, education, health and early-childhood leaders at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
The campaign aims to increase Missouri’s cigarette tax from 17 cents to 67 cents a pack.
One of the biggest hospitals in the southern part of metropolitan Kansas City is about to get even bigger.
The Olathe City Council this week approved $47.1 million in bonds on behalf of Olathe Medical Center to help finance expansion of the hospital. The project carries an estimated $67 million dollar price tag.
“Projects of this magnitude show the commitment Olathe Medical Center has to this city and this region,” Erin Vader, a spokeswoman for the city, said in a phone interview.
A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families says the agency plans to heed Gov. Sam Brownback’s call for cutting $3.9 million from its fiscal year 2015 budget by delaying a planned upgrade of its computer system.
The savings should cover “almost all of our anticipated FY 2015 reduction,” DCF spokesperson Theresa Freed said in an email, referring to the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.
Delaying the upgrade, she said, will have “no impact” on the department’s services for at-risk children and low-income families.
When Gov. Sam Brownback announced this week a list of stopgap measures to close a $280 million budget hole, one of the biggest chunks was $55 million from a “Kansas Department of Health and Environment Fee Fund Sweep” made possible in part by a federal law the governor has strenuously opposed and criticized.
A decision last week by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to limit admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital has had an immediate effect on the state’s mental health system.
Marilyn Cook, executive director at COMCARE, the community mental health center in Wichita, says the state’s decision to suspend admission of voluntary patients and more closely screen involuntary admissions recently prevented the center from transferring several patients thought to be a danger to themselves or others.
Hundreds of nursing homes and other assisted living facilities in Kansas will be required to participate in a fund meant to spread the risk of malpractice lawsuits starting next month. Advocates for those facilities say the change is a plus, but it has insurance agents scrambling to find liability coverage for their assisted living clients in a limited market.
New health rankings show Kansas stuck at No. 27 among the 50 states, the same slot it occupied last year. But there was a time – not that long ago – when the state ranked much higher than the middle of the pack.
The annual United Health Foundation rankings are a snapshot of 30 health measures ranging from clinical care to behavior and environment to state policy. Dr. Rhonda Randall, the foundation’s chief health advisor, says there’s no mistaking the trend.
A multimillion-dollar plan to transform downtown Kansas City, Kan., into a national model is one step closer to reality.
The Unified Government Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved a new master development plan designed to help improve the health of Kansas City and other Wyandotte County residents by providing a state-of-the-art community center, more green space in which to exercise and access to healthy foods at a 30,000- to 35,000-square-foot urban grocery store.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that this season’s flu shots may not be as effective as last year’s due to a mutation of the H3N2 flu virus.
The H3N2 flu strain has "drifted" as doctors say, into a new subtype. So this season’s vaccinations will only be about 48 percent effective at preventing people from catching the H3N2 flu strain, according to the CDC.
Financial considerations might influence use of a newly approved vaccine targeted at a strain of bacterial meningitis that often strikes college campuses, according to speakers at a conference Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., sponsored by the Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC).
As flu cases begin to appear in Kansas, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist urged providers to continue distributing the flu vaccine while also preparing antiviral medications for high-risk patients.
William Atkinson, a doctor who spent 25 years at the CDC and is now associate director for immunization at the Immunization Action Coalition, said there's still time to inoculate more of the population before the flu season peaks.
The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services has suspended voluntary admissions to Osawatomie State Hospital, one of the state’s two inpatient facilities for people with serious mental illnesses.
The decision, according to a memo sent to the state’s 26 community mental health centers late Tuesday afternoon, was driven by “ongoing and critical census challenges” at the state hospital. The memo also outlined procedures for handling patients who are involuntarily admitted.
A spokesperson for the Kansas Department for Children and Families on Tuesday said that Deputy Secretary Kathe Decker and Prevention and Protection Services Director Brian Dempsey have left the agency.
Anna Pilato, director of the department’s divisions for strategic development and community and faith-based initiatives, is due to leave later this month.
Beginning in January, more than 80 percent of workers currently eligible for part-time benefits in the Kansas state employee health plan will be eligible for full-time benefits under changes mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.
States continue to spend a miniscule portion of the billions of dollars they collect annually in tobacco revenues on smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report by six leading health organizations.
Missouri spent $76,314 on tobacco prevention in the latest fiscal year, the report says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it should have spent nearly $73 million.
Only one state, New Jersey, spent a smaller percentage of its tobacco funds on anti-smoking programs. New Jersey allocated no funds for tobacco prevention.
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week show that between 2005 and 2013, the percentage of U.S. adults who smoked declined from almost 21 percent to slightly less than 18 percent.
That’s the lowest percentage since the CDC began keeping tobacco use records in 1965.
Judy Bellome, of Lawrence, helped care for her diabetic mother until her death. Bellome is now among those supporting a bill to require more instruction for caregivers before patients are discharged from the hospital. She's holding a picture of her mother.
When diabetes began to steal her mother’s legs and vision three decades ago, Lawrence resident Judy Bellome and her family joined the ranks of thousands of caregivers across Kansas.
Bellome had advantages others don’t, but even so she found it challenging.
“If I hadn’t been a nurse — and my sister is a physical therapist — there’s a very good chance we would not have been giving my mother the right insulin doses,” says Bellome, former CEO of the Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association. “Because nobody trained us.”
Bike commuters and enthusiasts may soon have more options for safely trekking through downtown Kansas City, Mo.
The Public Works Department disclosed plans Tuesday for redesigning traffic flow and creating bike lanes on a mile-and-a-half stretch of Grand Avenue between the Crossroads and the River Market.
“It’s an opportunity to take Grand from a traditional 1960’s six-lane arterial into a more walkable, livable three-lane street with bike lanes and better pedestrian accommodations,” said Wes Minder, manager of capital planning for the city.
A Kansas City, Kan., home health attendant has been convicted in a federal case based on fraudulent Medicaid billing practices.
Doris Betts, 55, pleaded guilty to health care fraud in federal court. Her conviction was announced Tuesday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose office is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to investigate home health care fraud in Kansas.
State officials have a three-pronged plan to ensure Osawatomie State Hospital maintains its Medicare reimbursements after a federal agency announced last week they are in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, mental health advocates say the situation at that hospital underscores the need for legislators who hold the state's purse strings to allow the executive branch to follow through on reforms that are still in their early stages.
Only six people were able to sign up for private health insurance plans on the first day of open enrollment last year, due to widespread computer problems with the online insurance marketplaces. So enrollment helpers breathed a big sigh of relief earlier this month when the second round of enrollment launched with few glitches.
Kansas law currently bars state officials from placing restrictions on mental health drugs prescribed to Medicaid recipients. A legislative committee recommended repealing that law last week, saying the state needs to step in to prevent inappropriate use of such drugs.
A legislative committee’s recommendation could reignite a debate over whether the state should have the power to regulate Medicaid reimbursements for mental health medications, as it does for other types of drugs.
Three measures seeking to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week along largely partisan lines, with all of the Republicans in the Missouri and Kansas delegations voting in favor of the bills and the two Missouri Democrats voting against them.
Post-election soul-searching by Kansas Democrats includes disagreement over whether Medicaid expansion should have been a larger part of the party’s strategy.
The Democrats lost all statewide races for the second straight time and lost another five House seats to drop their number in that chamber to 27. The defeats were part of a national wave of Republican election wins, but they have nonetheless led to talk within the Kansas Democratic Party about what could have been done differently.