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The Kansas Hospital Association is urging federal officials to stop Gov. Sam Brownback from implementing $56.4 million in Medicaid cuts set to take effect today.

Brownback ordered the cuts in May to cover shortfalls in the fiscal year 2017 budget approved by the Legislature. The hospital association is asking the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to immediately intervene to stop the cuts, which include a 4 percent reduction in provider payments.

Kansas City Zoo Archives

If you visited the Kansas City Zoo anytime from the late 1960s to the early 1990s you’ll probably remember the Great Blue Whale. It’s so well known that I have clear memories of the whale — which is impossible since I wasn’t born until 1995.

 

The Great Blue Whale was removed from the Zoo in the 1990s, when the zoo went through major renovations. At the most, I may have caught glimpse of it from my stroller.

 

Kansas City author and teacher Whitney Terrell embedded with the U.S. military in Iraq about a decade ago — writing for publications such as Slate Magazine and The Washington Post. Some of the stories he heard became the basis for his third novel, The Good Lieutenant, an eye-opening look at women in the military.  

Ronnie Russell, who farms near Richmond, Mo., stands in one of his soybean fields.
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

On this sunny, summer morning in late June, Ronnie Russell is “windshield farming.”

Driving from field to field in his Ford pick-up, he can see that his corn is about to tassel, his soybeans are mostly weed-free and white butterflies are floating above the alfalfa.

All three crops, adding up to about 1,500 acres, are grown with genetically-engineered seeds, a technology Russell views as a boon to farming.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

"We need to finish the 18th and Vine District," said Kansas City, Missouri, Manager Troy Schulte in an opening statement at Wednesday evening's public forum on three different but intersecting plans for the historic Jazz District.

Schulte was joined on the pulpit of the Centennial United Methodist Church by 3rd District Councilman-at-Large Quinton Lucas and Harrietta Harris, a plaintiff in the court challenge to a private development plan for the Parade Park Homes.

MoDot / Flickr-CC

It’s that weekend for doing fireworks, waving the American flag and, by all means, having a slice of all-American apple pie.

But you can also sublimely groove to a top-of-the-charts pop princess or be nostalgically serenaded by a famous southern Missouri rock band from the 1970s. However you opt to have fun this Fourth of July weekend, remember, it’s your right to decide.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Johnson County Election Office reports it is in need of more than 2,000 election workers for the coming elections in August and November.

Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker says besides civic pride, the job pays a stipend of at least $135 for each election worked.

“A person can feel like, “I'm doing my civic duty, getting enough money to go out to dinner a couple of times... and I'm giving back to my country,” Metsker says.

The election commissioner emphasized that a 4-hour training class is provided and skills are not hard to master.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation stepping up oversight of the state’s 360 Community Improvement Districts.

“When residents vote to improve their communities through local taxing districts, they expect those districts to be held accountable and follow the law,” Nixon said Wednesday in Kansas City. “They need a watchdog, and that watchdog needs to have teeth.”

The bill Nixon signed makes that watchdog State Auditor Nicole Galloway. Before, Galloway could only audit a CID if a citizen petition requested it.

Natural Resources Defense Council

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council says more than 5,000 public water systems — including 68 in Kansas — are in violation of Environmental Protection Agency rules meant to protect people from lead in the water they drink.

Augie Grasis
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Augie Grasis doesn’t shy away from the label “serial entrepreneur.”

“I guess it’s true from the standpoint that I’ve had a number of startups,” says Grasis, the founder of multiple technology companies in Kansas City. “It’s really what interests me the most and what turns me on the most about life and about commerce. It’s innovating and improving the way things are done.”

Grasis is best known for starting up Handmark, which made content apps for the Palm operating system before expanding to other platforms and being acquired by Sprint in 2013.

The folk-rock duo Brewer & Shipley, an act with deep ties to Kansas City, is still together more than 40 years after achieving a few international hits. They perform with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils at Crossroads KC on Saturday, July 2.

Three reasons we’re listening to Brewer & Shipley this week:

1. Brewer & Shipley’s relaxed, folk-rock sound is back in style. You can hear echoes of it in the music of young musicians such as Dawes and the Avett Brothers.

Courtesy High Dive Records

Psychic Heat
Sunshower (High Dive)

The first impression Psychic Heat makes is volume, no matter how high you have the dial turned up. That’s volume in the auditory and spatial senses of the word: loudness, fullness and energy. Psychic Heat is a garage band, a rock ‘n’ roll machine, an uncaged beast.

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The troubled Larned State Hospital has a new superintendent.

Veteran state attorney Bill Rein has been named to head the facility, which provides inpatient treatment for people from the western two-thirds of Kansas suffering from severe or persistent mental illness.

Drug And Device Makers Find Receptive Audience At For-Profit, Southern Hospitals

Jun 29, 2016

Where a hospital is located and who owns it make a big difference in how many of its doctors take meals, consulting and promotional payments from pharmaceutical and medical device companies, a new ProPublica analysis shows.

A higher percentage of doctors affiliated with hospitals in the South have received such payments than doctors in other regions of the country, our analysis found. And a greater share of doctors at for-profit hospitals have taken them than at nonprofit and government facilities.

How We Compiled The Dollars For Docs Hospital Data

Jun 29, 2016

Our goal was to compare U.S. hospitals based on the percentage of their affiliated physicians who receive payments of various sizes from pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

To do this, we used several databases.

The data we used

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Kansas City-area hospitals vary greatly when it comes to the percentage of their doctors who accept money from drug and medical device companies.

The hospital with the highest percentage is Providence Medical Center, where nearly 89 percent of its doctors took such payments in 2014, the last year for which data are available. The hospital with the lowest percentage is Truman Medical Center Lakewood, where only 43.8 percent of its physicians took payments from those industries in 2014.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Physicians associated with Kansas and Missouri hospitals received about $46 million in payments from drug and medical device companies in 2014, with about 9 percent going to providers in the Kansas City area.

Courtesy U2D, Inc.

A device that could improve homeland security, help the military and protect workers in nuclear facilities and hospitals has won a coveted award for a team led by a UMKC professor.

Physics professor Anthony Caruso led a team of 20 student researchers plus researchers at MU-Columbia and Kansas State University and two private companies in taking the product from concept through prototype to production.

file photo: Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The late dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, believed that "dance is for everybody." That philosophy extends to an event in its second year called Festival on the Vine: three days of dance, art and live performance in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. 

The festival was created by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the second home for Ailey's New York-based dance company. Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken walked us through some things to know: 

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Kansas City innovators will have an opportunity to develop business ideas in a new program for people who want to change the energy industry.

Digital Sandbox KC is partnering with GXP Investments, an area energy investor. They’re collaborating to create Energy Sandbox, which will help entrepreneurs take ideas, test their feasibility and develop prototypes.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Black Bob Elementary is one of Olathe’s flagship schools. It’s in the middle of the city, surrounded by neighborhoods, and just a few blocks away, there's a big shopping center with  a Starbucks and Walgreens.

But it didn’t always look that way. Dr. Alison Banikowski, deputy superintendent of Olathe Schools, remembers what the city looked like when she first arrived in 1982. 

“I served for the first year I was here with Blackbob Elementary, and it was really literally out in a field,”

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment

Public health officials in Wyandotte County and Johnson County say they are seeking funds to continue comprehensive sexual education programs into 2018 after the state declined to renew a federal grant.

Lawrence, Kansas, Reacts To Sale Of Journal-World

Jun 27, 2016

Lawrence community members are reacting after the Lawrence Journal-World’s sale to a West Virginia company was announced early last week.

The local Simons family has owned the paper for 126 years as part of The World Company.

“Just the loss of that community connection is probably the biggest thing that people are talking about,” said University of Kansas journalism professor Scott Reinardy. “Not being able to see the people who own your newspaper. Not running into them in the street. Not bending their ear when you have an issue.”

CC--Wikimedia

Misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence were enough to invoke a federal ban on firearms, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Annie Sturby is the community safety assessment coordinator for the Kansas City-based Rose Brooks Center. She works with police, prosecutors and others in the community who interact with victims of domestic abuse.

Rarely do women ask for help obtaining a gun of their own, Sturby says.

Hannah Copeland / KCUR 89.3

About 100 priests and 200 parishioners filed into the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, Missouri, Sunday afternoon in search of closure and the chance to publicly grieve. The priests draped purple sashes over their white robes to symbolize the theme of the service: lament. 

Hiku2 / Wikimedia--CC

Updated: 11:58 a.m.

Missouri’s highly restrictive abortion laws are certain to face a court challenge now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down similar restrictions in Texas.

The high court on Monday, by a 5-3 vote, ruled that a 2013 Texas law placed an undue burden on women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion under the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Wikimedia Commons - CC

Kansas lawmakers have approved a school funding plan that they say will end the risk of a legal fight closing Kansas schools. The bill is in response to a Supreme Court ruling that says the funding system was unfair to poorer school districts.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley joined a large bipartisan majority Friday night that supported the bill.

“Regardless of who came up with the plan, what matters is that what we did today was put the children of Kansas first. This is a responsible plan that solves the problem,” said Hensley.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Unified Government broke ground Friday on a new police station in Argentine, next to the Walmart Neighborhood Market that opened in 2014.

“This facility is the second police station command center we have opened in my tenure, the last three years,” Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Mark Holland said at a ceremony. “It’s putting the police in a place that is most effective for the community and most effective for customer service.”

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

Four former governors have banded together to “Save Kansas” from Gov. Sam Brownback and his supporters.

In a letter circulated Friday, former Govs. Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Graves, Mike Hayden and John Carlin urged Kansas Democrats, Republicans and Independents to band together “to regain our fiscal health and stop the calculated destruction of our revenue stream and our educational, healthcare, and transportation systems.

Susie Fagan / KHI

Supporters of Medicaid expansion are kicking off a campaign to mobilize Kansas voters on the issue. Federal tax rules prohibit the nonprofit Alliance for a Healthy Kansas from engaging in direct political activity, so the group is mounting a vigorous educational campaign through a series of community meetings across the state. 

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