Kansas City is known for lots of things: barbecue, the Country Club Plaza, broad boulevards, the place where Walt Disney grew up.
Less flatteringly, Kansas Citians are fatter, exercise less and smoke more than most of the rest of the country.
As leader of the Mid-America Regional Coalition’s Regional Health Care Initiative, Scott Lakin works to address those unhealthy distinctions. Lakin is a former Missouri state representative and one-time director of the Missouri Department of Insurance.
He answered five questions as part of our monthly series, KC Checkup:
Different populations have different healthcare needs, and providing optimal care to the estimated 89,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Kansas City is an ongoing challenge for local hospitals and clinics.
Studies have identified the many health disparities faced by the LGBT community, and Kansas City is no exception. A 2012 report by the Missouri Foundation for Health says that LGBT Missourians are more likely to experience poor health outcomes than their heterosexual peers.
This Friday is National HIV Testing Day, first created almost 20 years ago to encourage members of the public to learn their HIV status. Since then, what it means to be HIV-positive has changed dramatically.
Individuals diagnosed as positive today can expect to live as long as they would without the virus, as long as they receive treatment.
But many HIV patients, especially in African American communities, don't receive the treatment they need, and health advocates blame that on the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.
If you were dying and had exhausted all conventional treatment options, wouldn’t you want immediate access to a drug that might prove to be a miracle cure?
That’s the promise of legislation that, if signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, would make Missouri the third state in the country - after Colorado and Louisiana – to enact a so-called “Right to Try” law, which aims to get investigational drugs into the hands of terminally ill patients as quickly as possible.
On Thursday's Central Standard, we looked back at the history of intervention in mental health crises, going all the way back to the 19th century.
The Glore Psychiatric Museum (formerly known as State Lunatic Asylum #2) captures both the treatments of the past and the controversies they sparked. Treatments in mental health hospitals once ranged from a "bath of surprise," which disrupted thought-patterns by dropping the patient into a shockingly cold bath, to lobotomies and fever cabinets.
Kansas’ efforts to address the ever-burgeoning needs of its aged and disabled populations rank 17th best in the nation, according to ascorecard released Thursday by AARP.
“Seventeenth — that places us in the second quartile of states, or somewhere toward the middle of the road,” says Maren Turner, director of AARP Kansas. “Kansas can do better than that. I mean, who wants to receive middle-of the-road services? Most people don’t.”
Kansas ranked 18th in a similar report last year. It came in ninth in 2011.
On Wednesday's Central Standard, we speak with the person who can explain why you've been sneezing more than usual. Charles Barnes tells us everything we ever wanted to know about pollen, especially how much of it is floating through our air.
Charles Barnes, Director of the Allergy and Immunology Laboratory at Children's Mercy Hospital
Ryan and Kathy Reed celebrated their son Otis’ third birthday last week, hoping that better days are ahead for him in the family’s new Colorado home.
Otis suffers from uncontrollable epileptic seizures. His body stiffens with them hundreds of times each day.
The Reeds left Kansas for Colorado in early May to gain access to medical marijuana for Otis. He received his first dose of non-psychotropic marijuana extract – known as Charlotte’s Web – on May 8. In the weeks since, steady increases in the dosage have helped Otis to sleep better but haven’t reduced his seizures.
A new report analyzing health plan enrollment through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace shows that most people who signed up — about 70 percent — are paying less than $100 a month for coverage after their advance tax credits are accounted for and nearly half those who enrolled are paying less than $50 per month.
Jessie Yuan, physician at the Eisner Pediatric and Family Health Center in Los Angeles, treats diabetic patient Oscar Gonzales. Gonzalez was unaware he had been switched to Medi-Cal until Yuan informed him about the change.
As soon as Deb Emerson, a former high school teacher from Oroville, Calif., bought a health plan in January through the state’s insurance exchange, she felt overwhelmed.
She couldn’t figure out what was covered and what wasn’t. Why weren’t her anti-depressant medications included? Why did she have to pay $60 to see a doctor? The insurance jargon - deductible, co-pay, premium, co-insurance - was like a foreign language. What did it mean?
It’s make-or-break time for advocates of Medicaid expansion in Kansas.
Fearing that political events may be conspiring to foreclose the opportunity to use mostly federal dollars to extend coverage to thousands of uninsured poor adults, the Kansas Hospital Association is preparing to shift its lobbying campaign into high gear.
The first step, says Tom Bell, the association’s chief executive, will be to craft an expansion proposal for lawmakers to consider in the 2015 session.
Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran says a Veterans Administration pilot program offering timely quality health care to rural veterans is being allowed to expire in a few months, even though VA officials tell members of Congress no decision has been made.
Moran and four of his colleagues sent a letter to the VA Secretary seeking an explanation.
The pilot program, called Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH, is offered through five pilot sites across the country, including one in Pratt, Kan.
Unlike its neighboring states of Missouri and Nebraska, where significant decreases have been reported, Kansas has seen a significant jump in the number of people enrolled in its Medicaid/CHIP programs, even without loosening its relatively tight eligibility standards.
According to a new report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, enrollment in the programs — together branded as KanCare — rose in April to a historic high of 426,642 people, or roughly one in seven Kansans. That’s up from 396,374 in April 2013.
The Topeka Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center has not been implicated in the waiting-list scandal unfolding across the country.
But on Friday, two Republican members of the Kansas congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, said their offices have fielded numerous complaints from veterans in recent months about long-standing appointments being canceled or rescheduled at the last minute.
Wichita-area doctors and hospitals have adopted a pre-surgery checklist designed to make the city’s operating rooms among the safest in the nation.
“If you go to the Hospital Compare website and look at ‘antibiotic prophylaxis ordered’ under ‘procedures and core measures,’ you’ll see that we’re at 99-plus percent,” says Dr. Randall Morgan, an obstetrician and chair of the Wichita Quality Health Collaborative’s Surgical Safety Committee.
There is no app for happiness. So reads the title of Max Strom's new book that examines what holds us back from being happier people. Turns out that one big obstacle is technology, which has only made many of us more depressed, anxious, sleep deprived and over-medicated. On Thursday's Up to Date Steve Kraske talks with the yoga master about how inner calm and self-awareness can help people cope with the stress our devices bring.
Providers of home and community-based (HCBS) Medicaid services and their state overseers are preparing for a raft of new federal rules that are intended to assure that the people who receive the services have more say in how they are helped and that their living conditions are “non-institutional.”
The regulations could have major consequences for many beneficiaries and the businesses and organizations that help them, particularly for some senior care providers who operate assisted living facilities attached to or in near proximity to nursing homes.
For months, Kansas City resident Cherie Fishback has been writing letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of her boyfriend, Lee Murphy, who last year had to have emergency gallbladder surgery.
A last-minute deal to expand Medicaid in Missouri almost materialized in the waning days of this year’s legislative session, briefly breathing life into an issue that had seemed all but doomed.
Missouri State Sen. Ryan Silvey, a Kansas City Republican, provided a behind-the-scenes look at high-level negotiations that occurred just before the session ended without an agreement to expand Medicaid eligibility.
Kansas Health Foundation President Steve Coen was blunt and to the point.
“Kansas is sick,” Coen said in opening remarks Thursday at the foundation’s 2014 Health Symposium in Wichita. “Something has gone seriously wrong in the state of Kansas, and we’ve got to do something to get it back on track.”
Coen’s diagnosis was based on the 2013 health rankings compiled by the United Health Foundation, which listed Kansas as the 27th healthiest state in the nation.
The Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center says its cardiology clinic never kept a secret waiting list, but "a serious clerical mistake" delayed several veterans waiting for follow-up care.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt flagged the facility Thursday in a growing scandal over long wait times for veterans. He told reporters he planned to press the hospital for more information "based on my firm belief the Kansas City Medical Center is likely to be found to be one of those hospitals that has a secret waiting list."