Health

Heartland Health Monitor
5:02 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Kansas Hospitals Advance Economic Argument For Medicaid Expansion

Several red-state governors have dropped their opposition to Medicaid expansion in recent months and are pursuing ways to use federal dollars to fund their own more conservative plans.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:03 am
Mon January 12, 2015

KCK Legislator Seeks Hearing For Medical Marijuana Bill

A pre-filed bill in the Kansas Senate states that medical research has confirmed the benefits of cannabis in treating symptoms like pain and nausea that accompany many illnesses.
Credit Danny Danko / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

Kansas Sen. David Haley said he’s made some tweaks to a bill legalizing medical marijuana for this year’s legislative session, but it’s largely the same as the bill that failed to get a hearing the last two years.

Haley, a Democrat from Kansas City, said he’s relying on an increase in public pressure to convince the Legislature’s Republican leadership to give the issue its first committee debate since 2012.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:17 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Top Kansas Lawmaker To Consider Additional Funding For State Mental Hospital

Osawatomie State Hospital is one of two state-run mental health facilities in Kansas.
Credit File photo

A key lawmaker said he’ll encourage his legislative colleagues to support additional funding for Osawatomie State Hospital.

“There’s a huge amount of duress out there,” said House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, a Louisburg Republican, referring to the 206-bed facility for adults with serious mental illness who’ve been deemed a danger to themselves or others.

“As soon as we go back into session,” Vickrey said, “several of us, I’m sure, will be meeting with the governor’s staff to find out what we need to do to get people the treatment they need.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:48 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Missouri Health Advocates Encouraged By ACA Enrollment Numbers

At roughly the midpoint of the second Affordable Care Act open-enrollment period, health advocates say they’re happy with the number of people signing up in Missouri.

Ryan Barker, vice president of health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, said that more than 102,000 people enrolled in health plans in the first month alone. In the entire first open enrollment period, 152,000 people signed up.

“We are very confident that we will exceed the numbers from last year,” Barker said in a teleconference Thursday with reporters.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:09 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Poll: Public Supports Lowering Sales Tax On ‘Healthy’ Foods

Credit Michael Cannon / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 

A Kansas City-based nonprofit organization says a recent poll shows widespread support for exempting some foods from the Kansas sales tax.

Ashley Jones-Wisner, state policy manager for KC Healthy Kids, says the survey conducted for the Kansas Health Foundation showed that 86.6 percent of Kansans supported exempting fruits and vegetables from the state sales tax.

The Wichita-based foundation helps to fund KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing obesity among children.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:26 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Never Jog Alone (And Other Health Tips For Very Cold Weather)

Credit Daniel Wildi / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Emergency room doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital say there are a few practical ways NOT to be one of the weather-related patients they’ve been seeing during this cold snap.

But doctors advise those who go outside to remember:

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Heartland Health Monitor
6:00 am
Thu January 8, 2015

KC Checkup: Five Questions For Dalyn Schmitt

Dalyn Schmitt

Dalyn Schmitt formed the Heartland Regional Alcohol and Drug Assessment Center (RADAC) in 1998, building on state-funded services previously provided by Bethany Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

Based in Roeland Park, Kan., the organization started off with a budget of about $600,000 to serve individuals in 20 Kansas counties. Today, the RADAC serves nearly four times as many counties and boasts a $6 million budget.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:14 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Primary Care Docs In Kansas And Missouri Face Medicaid Cuts

Starting this month primary care physicians in much of the country, including Kansas and Missouri, will be paid less for seeing Medicaid patients.

The expiration of a federal incentive program in the Affordable Care Act is responsible for the reduction.

Nationally, the average fee reduction is expected to be nearly 43 percent, according to a recent report from the Health Policy Center of the Urban Institute.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:20 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Company Chosen As ACA Navigator In Kansas City Faces Criticism

George Mayer, a retired software developer, was one of the highly regarded volunteer health reform navigators who worked at Shepherd's Center Central in Kansas City, Mo., during the first open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

A Maryland company that has reaped millions of dollars in federal health-reform grants for work around the country is drawing fire for its performance in the Kansas City area.

Critics say that Advanced Patient Advocacy (APA), a privately held company, has been slow off the mark in its role as a “navigator” organization, charged with helping consumers find coverage through the health insurance marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:52 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Humana Fined For Misleading Missouri Policyholders

Humana Insurance has agreed to pay a $161,800 fine for misleading policyholders, the Missouri Department of Insurance said Tuesday.

It’s the second time in less than a year that the department has slapped Humana with a penalty.

The latest fine stems from notices Humana sent to 1,618 policyholders, according to the department. The notices stated that, due to Missouri legislation, Humana was required to terminate their policies on Dec. 31, 2013, and replace them with new ones with 2014 benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

There is no such Missouri legislation.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:18 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

Kansas City Hospital System Defends Record As Medicare Cuts Loom

A spokeswoman for Kansas City's largest hospital system defended its record on patient safety following a report last month that more than half its facilities are among those that will be penalized by the federal government for hospital-acquired ailments.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:45 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Former Rainbow Mental Health Facility Sold

The former Rainbow Mental Health Facility has been sold to the KU Endowment Association.
Credit File photo

 

State officials have sold the former Rainbow Mental Health Facility building in Kansas City, Kan., to the University of Kansas Endowment Association.

The 11-acre property at 2205 W. 36th Ave. is a short distance from KU Medical Center.

“The transaction has occurred,” said Natalie Lutz, director of communications at the medical center. “The KU Endowment Association has purchased the building and will be meeting with the university to determine what the actual purpose of the property is going to be.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:23 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Kansas City Skin Care Company Settles Deceptive Claims Allegations

DERMAdoctor, a Kansas City-based skin-care products company, opened this office in the Crossroads District in 2009.
Credit Dan Margolies / KCUR

 

A local skin-care products company may have lost a bit of its luster.

Kansas City-based DERMAdoctor Inc. and its owner on Monday settled a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission over allegedly deceptive claims made by the company.

The FTC charged that DERMAdoctor Inc. and its principal, dermatologist Audrey Kunin, made misleading claims about DERMAdoctor’s anti-aging and body-slimming products.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:08 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Flu ‘Epidemic’ Isn’t Necessarily As Scary As It Sounds

The phrase “flu epidemic” might raise alarm bells for some, but don’t let headlines about this season’s outbreak scare you too much.

“The ‘epidemic’ designation is basically just a way we characterizes whether flu season has started or not,” says Erin Burns, a health communications specialist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza division.

In fact, a flu epidemic occurs every year.

Burns says the CDC declares an epidemic when health providers have reported high numbers of flu-like symptoms, hospitalizations and deaths.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:46 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Half Or More Of Obamacare Enrollees In Kansas And Missouri Are New

At least half of Kansans and Missourians who signed up for 2015 health insurance through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces are new consumers, data released Tuesday show.

Of the 102,087 Missourians who chose a marketplace plan from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, 50 percent are new and 50 percent have reenrolled, according to the figures from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Of the 39,023 Kansans who enrolled in the same period, 53 percent are new and 47 percent have reenrolled.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:00 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Kansas Health Officials: ‘Unprecedented’ Flu Season

Dr. Lee Norman
Credit Todd Feeback / The Hale Center for Journalism

A top health official at the University of Kansas Hospital said the severity of this year’s flu outbreak is requiring inpatient admissions at a rate more than three times that which it generally sees during flu season.

Dr. Lee Norman, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference Tuesday that 36 people were in the hospital with confirmed cases of the flu or with flu-like symptoms. He said he could not remember a time when inpatient cases exceeded 10.

“These numbers are unprecedented here,” Norman said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:29 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Missouri Lawmakers Set Stage For More Abortion Restrictions

Missouri’s abortion regulations, among the strictest in the nation, may get even stricter.

Several lawmakers have already pre-filed abortion-related legislation in both the state House of Representatives and Senate.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:02 am
Tue December 30, 2014

KanCare Company Fires Back At Ex-Employee Over Its Business Practices

An incendiary lawsuit over the business practices of one of the companies running KanCare, the Brownback administration’s privatization of Kansas’ $3 billion Medicaid program, just got more explosive.

The company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., responded forcefully Monday to a lawsuit accusing it of unethical behavior, saying the plaintiff – an executive who was fired – was trying to extort it.

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Heartland Health Monitor
8:26 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Is An Aqueduct A Practical Answer To Western Kansas’ Water Crisis?

A windmill pumps water from the underground Ogallala Aquifer.
Credit Wikimedia -- CC

A lot has changed in the three decades since the idea of building an aqueduct from the Missouri River to western Kansas was first studied and shelved. For one thing, the water shortages that were mere projections then are now imminent. That reality has prompted state officials to dust off the study and re-examine the aqueduct idea.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:08 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Did Exposure To Burn Pits Cause Veterans’ Mysterious Ailments?

U.S. Army veteran Brandon Garrison, right, talks with his father, Stephen Traglio, who also served in the Army. Garrison served in Afghanistan and now has several health conditions that he says may be linked to the burn pits used to dispose of waste at U.S. military bases there.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

This is the third installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The first part, which you can find here, deals with the military medical system. The second part, which you can find here, deals with mental health.

Four months ago, U.S. Army veteran Brandon Garrison played in an all-day softball tournament, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:05 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Peer Support Key To Helping Veterans Overcome Mental Health Problems

After his Army service, Will Stucker earned a bachelor's degree in family studies at Manhattan Christian College and is now working on a master's degree in clinical psychology at Emporia State University. He plans to work with other veterans and help them overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service

This is the second installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The first part, which you can find here, deals with the military medical system. The third part, which you can find here, deals with environmental exposures.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:04 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Wounded Veterans Return To Unprepared Medical System

Melissa Jarboe documents the medical treatments her husband, Jamie, endured after being shot during a tour of duty in Afghanistan in April 2011.
Credit Esther Klay

This is the first installment of a three-part series on veterans’ health. The second part, which you can find here, deals with mental health. The third part, which you can find here, deals with environmental exposures.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:45 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Saint Luke’s Scientist Pens Viral Op-Ed On Dangers Of Sugar

An op-ed piece co-written by Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute scientist James J. DiNicolantonio, pictured here, was the most emailed article Tuesday in The New York Times.
Credit Saint Luke's Health System

 

An op-ed piece on the addictive nature of sugar that ran in The New York Times Tuesday and shot to the top of the newspaper’s “Most Emailed” list early Wednesday was co-written by Kansas City research scientist James J. DiNicolantonio.

DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research specialist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. According to his bio on Saint Luke’s Health System’s website, the 2010 graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy is the author or co-author of more than 100 medical publications.

And oh, he’s all of 28 years old.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:54 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas City Regional Health Care Initiative To Undergo Changes

Scott Lakin, pictured here, is leaving as director of the Kansas City regional health initiative.
Credit Mike Sherry / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

During the past eight years, the philanthropic community has spent about $8 million on a wide-ranging program aimed at improving health services for low-income individuals in the Kansas City area.

The REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City (HCF) have provided nearly three quarters of the total funding. But now, the collaboration and the various efforts it has spawned are taking on a more targeted approach heading into 2015.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:15 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Officials Looking For Answers On New ‘Bourbon Virus’

News that federal and state health officials are studying a new virus linked to the death of a Bourbon County, Kan., resident caused little stir in the county Tuesday. But that could change once ticks return to the county's woods and prairies.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:43 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Contacting Kansans Waiting For Disability Services Remains A Challenge

State officials say they’re having a hard time contacting disabled people who have expressed interest in receiving Medicaid-funded services designed to help them live in community-based settings.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett on Friday said that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 15, the agency had reached out to 1,627 people on its waiting list for services for people with physical disabilities.

More than 830 of these individuals are now receiving services.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:32 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Kansas And Missouri Consumers Have Big Stake In U.S. Supreme Court Decision

Consumers in Kansas and Missouri are among those who could be most affected if the U.S. Supreme Court eliminates federal subsidies in states that didn’t set up their own health insurance marketplaces.

The court announced on Monday that it will hear arguments in the case — King v. Burwell — on March 4, 2015. 

At issue is whether the Affordable Care Act authorizes federal subsidies only in state-operated marketplaces and not in the federal marketplace being used by consumers in Kansas, Missouri and up to 35 other states.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:08 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Kansas City-Area Hospitals Penalized For Infection Rates And Other Injuries

These 11 hospitals in the metropolitan area will have to forfeit 1 percent of their Medicare revenues in fiscal 2015 under the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was established by the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Eleven Kansas City-area hospitals have been hit with penalties for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare deems avoidable.

The hospitals’ Medicare payments will be docked by 1 percent in the fiscal year that runs from October 2014 through September 2015.

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St. Joseph
4:03 am
Fri December 19, 2014

When Nonprofit Hospitals Sue Their Poorest Patients

Keith Herie is swamped in debt from medical issues he and his wife encountered starting about a decade ago. Heartland hospital is seizing 10 percent of his paycheck and 25 percent of his wife's wages, and has placed a lien on their home.
Steve Hebert for ProPublica

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 9:13 am

On the eastern edge of St. Joseph, Mo., lies the small city's only hospital, a landmark of modern brick and glass buildings. Everyone in town knows Heartland Regional Medical Center — many residents gave birth to their children here. Many rush here when they get hurt or sick.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:22 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Report: Kansas, Missouri Unprepared For Disease Outbreaks

Credit NIAID / National Institutes of Health

 

Kansas and Missouri rank in the bottom half of states in preparedness for potential outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola, Enterovirus and ‘superbugs,’ according to a report released Thursday.

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