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Advocates of government-sponsored health care gathered Thursday at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, to mark the anniversary of legislation that’s both a local story and a milestone for medical care in the United States.

Fifty years ago, on the same stage where speakers sat, President Lyndon Johnson signed the law establishing Medicare and Medicaid, vastly expanding insurance protections for the elderly and for low-income Americans.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It's taken six months since a report from the Missouri State Auditor severely criticized the St. Joseph, Missouri School District and three of its top administrators, but Thursday the district finally pushed out its scandal-tainted former HR director.

The district says it reached a severance deal with Doug Flowers. It will pay Flowers $32,000 to leave the district.

SqueezeBoxCity / www.squeezeboxcity.com

Music isn’t just an open door – it’s a palace of passageways leading to all kinds of tunes around every corner.

This weekend, check out some of the different ways to explore the musical mansion, from superstar country to indie rock, jazz, blues and more.

The best part? You get to sing along.

1. Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Some say that local government is the toughest branch, because it’s closest to the people.

For Mission, Kansas Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, it's easy.

“If you're honest and talk straight the people tell you what they want and what they don't like and you adjust,” he says.  

Schowengerdt stopped by KCUR studios to talk with Up To Date host Steve Kraske about the meatiest issues on Mission's table. 

Here are five questions Kraske asked the Mayor:

Publik15 / Flickr-CC

Kansas officials have decided against participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a federal initiative that could have generated millions of dollars for behavioral health programs throughout the state.

Esther Honig / KCUR

On a muggy afternoon in June, John Bruhn drives through Kansas City’s Ivanhoe neighborhood, reading the house numbers out loud until he sees No. 3735. With a clipboard in hand, he walks down the path to a small, yellow house and knocks at the front door.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Cerner Corp. on Wednesday landed what’s thought to be one of the biggest health information technology contracts ever awarded.

The Washington Post reported that the 10-year contract for the U.S. Defense Department’s Military Health System was worth $4.3 billion. Bloomberg Business said the contract was valued at as much as $9 billion through 2033.

Cerner beat out archrival Epic Systems for the contract, which calls for Cerner and its partners to upgrade health records for 9.5 million people at more than 50 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in the United States and abroad.

Sheridan's Frozen Custard / via Twitter

Even as government officials brace for a recurrence of bird flu this fall, the massive spring outbreak is still affecting food producers.

Kansas City residents, flocking to local favorite Sheridan’s 12 frozen custard stands because of this week’s heat wave, are met with notices that the custard recipe has been changed because of an egg shortage.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

An emotional Barbara Nelson thanked Jackson County officials and neighbors Wednesday for the home she now owns.

“I’m going to walk in that grass today without my shoes,” she declared through her tears after receiving a clear title to the house she and her daughters moved into six years ago.

Nelson, once homeless, was the first recipient of a completely renovated house through Jackson County’s Constructing Futures initiative. The program provides on-the-job training to people who were incarcerated as they work to fix up a vacant house.

REACH Healthcare Foundation and Mid-America Regional Council

When it comes to health outcomes in the 11-county Kansas City metropolitan area, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

That’s the takeaway from a regional health assessment released Tuesday by the REACH Healthcare Foundation in Merriam, Kansas, which aims to improve health care for the poor and medically underserved.

The good news: Except for obesity and diabetes, health outcome trends in the metro area are improving.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

We live in a time where pretty much anything you need can come right to your door, thanks to technology — that is, if you live in a big city like New York or San Francisco.

Whether it’s driving services like Uber, groceries that come right to your door, on-demand laundry, or someone who will come over in a minute to change a light bulb — the proliferation of these services, available through an app, has created what the start-up world calls “The Convenience Economy.”

But a trend that has exploded in big cities has been slower to arrive in the Kansas City metro.

Blake Miller, Partner & Director of the Accelerator at Think Big Partners in Kansas City attributes part of that to the physical layout of the city.

“A lot of it is our sprawl, we’re 319 square miles of a city. For a lot of these companies to become truly successful it’s [about] density and the clusters of people around it,” Miller told Up To Date host Steve Kraske.

That sprawl, Miller says, has led to a driving culture in the metro.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry passed a physical on the first day of training camp in St. Joseph and that’s big news.

Eric Berry abruptly left the Chiefs in the middle of last season when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Nothing much has been said about Berry’s future since his treatments were completed in June.

But Chiefs coach Andy Reid was encouraged by Berry’s appearance when the five-year veteran reported to training camp.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

A group opposing the new Kansas City, Missouri minimum wage ordinance have effectively blocked its implementation. 

Opponents of a higher minimum wage have filed only 100 of the 3400 signatures they need to send the repeal measure to the voters, but Caitlin Adams of Jobs With Justice believes there's more to the strategy than just getting it on the ballot.

“What this does is delay enforcement and implementation of the bill. It means it holds up a whole lot of Kansas City folks getting a raise until this gets figured out,” said Adams.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Show day at the Pierce County Fair in Nebraska starts early and goes fast.

I arrived around 9 in the morning, but Emily Lambrecht had already spent an hour and a half in the wash stalls, scrubbing and shampooing her calves so they would sparkle in the show barn.

This was showtime. The 17-year-old 4-H and FFA exhibitor spent months working up to this one day.

File photo

A children’s psychiatric facility in Kansas City, Kansas, has agreed to set aside 12 inpatient beds for adults who have been referred to Osawatomie State Hospital but haven’t been admitted due to overcrowding there.

  “This will definitely help with the situation at Osawatomie,” said Kyle Kessler, executive director with the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas.

The additional beds at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital will be available Monday, Kessler said.

Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning rejects the notion his department is providing sanctuary for people in the country illegally.

Some members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, want to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” following the murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco. The man who killed Steinle had been deported multiple times, and Yoder wants to cut some federal funding for cities and counties that don’t cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

US Dept. of Justice

One of the strictest voter ID laws in the country will be under the microscope when the Kansas Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission holds hearings to determine whether the law has suppressed voter turnout in some communities.

The Civil Rights Commission has advisory committees in all 50 states and the Kansas committee voted Tuesday to move forward with its investigation.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

My colleague, Donna Vestal, and her husband Eric like living in the Northland.

They have space. Their expansive backyard spills down from their deck like their own personal park where they enjoy a rural kind of quiet.

They like their living situation well enough to endure what can easily be a 30-minute commute daily across the Missouri River.

To save gas, Donna and Eric frequently commute together. He works downtown and she works at KCUR in Midtown.

Thousands of Kansans soon will be receiving letters notifying them that their electronic health records may have been compromised.

The letters are from a Fort Wayne, Ind., company that provides an online patient portal called NoMoreClipboard used by 18 Kansas hospitals and at least half a dozen clinics. Most are small-town hospitals in western and southeastern Kansas. The largest is in Hutchinson.

Mike Sherry / Heartland Health Monitor

Former employees of two Kansas City-area hospitals who claimed they weren’t paid promised separation benefits after the hospitals were sold to Prime Healthcare Services have agreed to settle their class action lawsuit.

The proposed $550,000 settlement, if approved by the court, would end a case brought by 49 former workers of Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas, and Saint John Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Robyn Anderson / Robyn Lyn Photography

Editor's note: StoryCorps OutLoud visited KCUR in June to collect stories from Kansas City's LGBTQ community in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America.

Living as Sean Power simply wasn't working.

Jerry Moran / Native Orleanian Fine Photography

Samantha Fish
Wild Heart (Ruf Records)

“Turn it up!”

Samantha Fish’s demand to crank the volume during a song of the same name on her new album “Wild Heart” reflects her general orientation. Although she’s invariably classified as a blues artist, “Wild Heart” reveals that Fish is actually a first-rate rock-and-roller.

There’s a new warehouse going up at the Intermodal BusinessCentre near the Kansas City International Airport.

The KC Aviation Department, Trammell Crow Company and Clarion Partners will break ground on the facility Tuesday.

It’s the third such building in the industrial park.

There’s no tenant yet, but David Hinchman with CBRE real estate says it’s an ideal location for companies that want a Midwest distribution center.

U.S. House of Representatives

Kansas 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo has agreed to co-sponsor a joint resolution that would allow states to form a health care compact and, potentially, circumvent parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Mike has agreed to be a part of the health care compact because he views it as one of the last remaining opportunities to protect Kansans from the disaster that is the Affordable Care Act,” Heather Denker, a spokesperson for Pompeo’s office, said in an email.

Pompeo, she said, believes the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will “drive up costs for the poorest people in Kansas and diminish access, especially in the rural areas of Kansas.”

Shawnee County Emergency Management / Twitter

An amendment to a bill offered by Republican Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder could cost some Kansas counties federal funding. 
 
Yoder’s proposal would strip existing Federal Emergency Management Agency grants away from local governments that are not fully enforcing national immigration laws.
 
Under the amendment, Shawnee, Johnson and Sedgwick counties could all lose a substantial amount of federal money. They would still be eligible for disaster aid.
 

KT Kind / Flickr-CC

A persistent teacher shortage remains in Kansas, just two weeks before students start returning for the new school year. 

According to the state-run Kansas Education Employment Board, there were 466 open positions at Kansas schools as of Monday. Of the openings, 236 were for certified teachers. The other openings were for administrators, support staff and other positions. 

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

The switch from county oversight to management by a Wichita-based nonprofit is under way for the four safety net clinics in Shawnee County.

Together, the four clinics provide health services to about 8,000 patients a year, regardless of their ability to pay.

That sounds like a lot. But for a county with 20,500 uninsured children and adults, health officials say it’s not enough.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

A final Kansas City Council decision regarding a proposed Catholic student housing project located at 53rd and Troost Avenue was expected last week.

But instead, the council deferred the decision, suggesting the groups work more to resolve the conflict through mediation.

The proposed 237-bedroom dorm pits members of the surrounding neighborhoods and St. Francis Xavier Parish against the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. The building would be built just next to the church on the site of a former elementary school that is now vacant, which is owned by the diocese. 

Thomas Hawk / Flickr-CC

An often easy crime – at least in the past, in Kansas City, Missouri — was to pawn stolen items for cash at a pawn shop.

Detective Jeff Mehrer says when he makes the connection in a case and goes to the shop, the items have usually been sold. 

The person who brought them in likely used a phony name and pawn shops are not required to keep records of who buys things. Your stuff is gone. Not recoverable.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don’t plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

“We’ve traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it’s a very productive acre and a half,” Eric Reuter said. “We’re really into cropping things.”

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