Bryan Thompson

Bryan Thompson is a reporter for Kansas Public Radio.

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Environment
7:39 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Western Kansas Looks To Missouri River For Water

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report in 1982 proposed a 360-mile canal, with 16 pump stations to propel the water uphill to western Kansas.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Kansas Water Office is preparing to take a fresh look at the idea of transferring surplus Missouri River Water to Western Kansas, where the underground aquifer is being rapidly depleted. 

The study will update a 1982 feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their report proposed a 360-mile canal with 16 pump stations to propel the water uphill to western Kansas. They estimated the cost at around $8 billion in 1977. 

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Health
12:59 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

E-Cigarette Use Among Kids Doubles In One Year

A nationwide survey of kids in grades six through twelve shows that nearly 1.8 million of them have tried electronic cigarettes, more than double the rate reported the previous year.

The CDC says nearly seven percent of middle and high school students have tried e-cigarettes, and more than two percent are current users. Erika Sward of the American Lung Association says the rapid growth is due in large part to an aggressive marketing campaign.

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Health
10:00 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Study: Predictions Of Health Care 'Rate Shock' Are Unfounded

A new study from a non-profit research group says predictions of huge premium increases when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January are unfounded. 

Kansas is one of 10 states the Rand Corporation studied in detail. The study predicts that by 2016, only 6.6 percent of Kansans too young for Medicare will be uninsured. Without the new law, that figure would be more than 14 percent. 

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Health
9:18 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Infant Mortality Up Slightly In Kansas Last Year

A new research brief by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment shows a slight increase in the infant mortality rate last year.

Infant mortality refers to babies who die before their first birthday. Although the trend has been downward, Kansas has exceeded the national infant mortality rate every year since 2003. 

KDHE Secretary Robert Moser says last year’s rate was 6.3 deaths per thousand live births.

“That’s relatively low, but unfortunately it’s up slightly from 2011,” says Moser.

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Health
8:30 am
Thu August 22, 2013

'Superglue Baby' Healthy, Developing Normally

Ashlyn Julian in the arms of KU Brain Surgeon Koji Ebersole.
Courtesy of Jill Chadwick KU Hospital

A three-month-old Kansas City-area baby shows no sign of problems following a first-of-its-kind surgical procedure a little more than two months ago at the University of Kansas Hospital. 

Ashlyn Julian was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm when she was just three weeks old.  A weak spot in one of her brain’s blood vessels had ruptured. 

Traditional brain surgery might have proven fatal at Julian’s age. So KU brain surgeon Koji Ebersole maneuvered a tiny catheter through blood vessel to deliver a drop of superglue.  It immediately stopped the bleeding. 

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Health
7:29 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Rural Residents Stand To Benefit More From Affordable Care Act

A new report by the Center for Rural Affairs finds that rural residents stand to benefit from the Affordable Care Act more than their city-dwelling counterparts.

The report’s author, Jon Bailey, says the premium tax credits to help pay for individual health insurance plans, and the caps on out-of-pocket costs will be especially important to people who live in rural areas.

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Health
6:25 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Obesity Still A Big Concern In Kansas, Missouri

A new report on obesity in America says Kansas is now the 14th most obese state in the nation.  Missouri ranked just one spot below at 15th. 

The annual “F as in Fat” report says 29.9 percent of adults in Kansas are obese and 29.6 percent in Missouri. That’s barely changed from last year. 

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Education
8:10 am
Mon August 19, 2013

KU Researchers Developing Model Anti-Bullying Policy

Researchers at the University of Kansas have been hired by the State Department of Education to develop a model anti-bullying policy for use in schools statewide.

All Kansas schools must have an anti-bullying policy, but coming up with effective policies and practices to meet that requirement can get complicated. Researchers at the University of Kansas plan to launch a statewide series of meetings in October to present educators with a model policy to build their own programs around.

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Health
8:09 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Kansas Plan On Aging Approved By Feds

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved the Kansas Plan on Aging for the next four years. The plan is a broad outline of how the state intends to use federal resources under the Older Americans Act.

Secretary for Aging and Disability Services, Shawn Sullivan, says the plan is based on priorities identified by older Kansans, and those who work with them.

“Seniors here in Kansas want to stay at home, and in order to do that, I think there are some changes that we need to make," says Sullivan.

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Health
9:09 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Fatty Acids In Baby Formula Show Lasting Benefits

Researchers at the University of Kansas have shown fatty acids in baby formula provide benefits to the baby.
Credit Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Researchers at the University of Kansas say fatty acids added to baby formula produce lasting gains in intelligence and performance.

Infant formula has been enriched with fatty acids since 2001, based in part on research done by University of Kansas scientists John Colombo and Susan Carlson.  The new findings by Colombo and Carlson are based on 81 babies who were tested every six months over a span of six years. 

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Health
6:14 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Kansas Gears Up For Health Insurance Exchange

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger
KHI News Service

In a little less than two months, Kansans will be able to begin shopping for individual health insurance plans through the new, online marketplace called the exchange. Most of the plans will be sold by three companies.

According to Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, they'll be the same three companies that provide the bulk of health insurance in Kansas now: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross of Kansas City, and Coventry.

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Health
8:41 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Kansas To Offer Sessions On Affordable Care Act

The Kansas Insurance Department is planning meetings to help educate people about the Affordable Care Act.

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Health
7:18 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Even Without Expansion, Obamacare Still Means Changes For Medicaid

Kansas policymakers have decided not to expand the state's Medicaid program or to create a Kansas-specific exchange for consumers to buy individual health insurance policies. But the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring some changes to the Medicaid program, whether the state's political leaders want to cooperate, or not.

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Health
11:41 am
Thu July 25, 2013

U.S. Senate Report Critical Of Dental Clinic Chains

A federal report recommends that the company that operates Small Smiles dental clinics be booted from the Medicaid program.
Credit Finizio/Flickr--CC

A two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate concludes that so-called dental management companies have provided substandard care to low-income children covered by Medicaid, while over billing the joint federal-state program.

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Education
8:14 am
Fri July 19, 2013

$10 Million Gift Benefits KU Students, Libraries

A $10 million estate gift will fund scholarships for health professions students at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and support libraries at the medical center and at KU in Lawrence. 

The gift is from the estate of David and Stata Ringle. Stata Ringle was a researcher, professor and dean at the medical center for 28 years, beginning in 1962. 

KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling says the bequest will more than double the scholarship support for students in the School of Health Professions at KU Med.

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Government
6:33 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Clean Indoor Air Act Remains Popular In Kansas

Three years after taking effect, the Clean Indoor Air Act remains overwhelmingly popular among Kansas voters, according to a statewide public opinion poll. It finds that 78 percent of Kansas voters approve of the law that prohibits smoking in most public places. 

One of the tradeoffs made to get the law passed exempts state-operated casinos from the smoking ban.

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Health
9:57 am
Fri July 12, 2013

State To Take Public Comment On KanCare Changes

The Brownback Administration wants federal permission to make changes to the new, privatized Medicaid system known as KanCare.  You'll have a chance to comment on the plans next Monday and Tuesday, in Wichita and Topeka.

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Health
8:11 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Controversial Medicare Bid Program Takes Next Step

Many diabetics use testing strips daily to test their blood sugar.
Credit cogdogblog / Flickr--Creative Commons

Medicare patients who have diabetic testing supplies delivered to them experienced some changes this week.

It’s all part of an effort by the Medicare program to save money and cut down on fraud. But some people are worried about unintended consequences.

A public services announcement issued by Medicare attempts to lay out the changes for diabetic Medicare recipients:

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Health
7:10 am
Fri July 5, 2013

Senior Citizens Targeted for 'Medical Alert' Fraud

An on-going scam to bill senior citizens for medical alert device service is gaining steam in Kansas and other Midwestern states.  

The Better Business Bureau says there’s been a significant increase in calls about the scheme.  The pre-recorded message claims that someone has purchased a medical alert device for the person as a gift.  Then the recipient is asked to verify his or her identity with a bank account or credit card number. 

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Health
9:17 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Does Northeast Kansas Need A Regional Food Hub?

Douglas County has been awarded grants totaling more than $68,000 for a regional food hub feasibility study. 

The year-long study will determine whether 16 counties in the northeast corner of Kansas could benefit by creating a warehouse for locally-grown foods.  Lawrence/Douglas County Sustainability Coordinator Eileen Horn says one goal is to help meet the demand from institutional kitchens for fresh, local food.

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Health
8:35 am
Tue June 25, 2013

Report Cites Need For Mid-Level Dental Providers

A new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts bolsters the argument that dental access challenges in Kansas require a new type of dental provider.

The report lists the ten states with the most severe shortage of dentists, and the ten states where low-income children are least likely to receive dental care. Kansas is not on either of those lists.

Still, nearly 55 percent of Kansas kids covered by Medicaid received no dental care in 2011. The report also reveals that more than 16 percent of the state’s population is underserved, and living in a dental shortage area.

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Environment
8:22 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Ash Grove To Pay Millions In Pollution Penalties, Fixes

Ash Grove Cement Company has agreed to pay a penalty, and invest $30 million in new pollution control technology at its nine manufacturing plants-one of which is in Chanute, Kan. The settlement stems from charges that Ash Grove violated the Clean Air Act.

The consent decree allows the Overland Park-based company to pay a $2.5 million penalty, and install new pollution controls at plants in nine states, without having to admit to violating air quality requirements.

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Government
7:41 am
Tue June 18, 2013

KU Med To Lose 31 Student Slots In Kansas City

The University of Kansas is wrestling with how to cut $13.5 million from its budget over the next two years, but the funding reduction will not prompt the closing of the KU School of Medicine's campus in Salina

The KU Medical Center, which operates the school, will have to absorb more than $8 million in cuts. KU spokesman Jack Martin says closing the Salina campus, and scaling back operations in Wichita are no longer on the table.

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Health
7:54 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Supreme Court Says Human Genes Can't Be Patented

An illustration of the human genome.
Credit Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that segments of naturally-occurring human genes cannot be patented. The ruling may change the focus of genomic research, but it won't stop it.

Professor Andrew Torrance specializes in biotechnology patent law at the University of Kansas. He says the ruling falls hardest on companies that have invested billions of dollars, hoping to profit from patents on human gene fragments like those that help reveal a person’s risk for breast cancer.

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Health
8:21 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Medicare Summary Notices Redesigned To Fight Fraud

The Medicare Summary Notice senior citizens receive every month has been redesigned. The changes are meant to make it easier to spot fraudulent claims.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the federal government has devoted new resources to rooting out fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare program. The notice beneficiaries receive each month to explain their claims is being upgraded to make it easier to spot claims for services they never received.

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Health
7:39 am
Tue June 11, 2013

KU Doctors Use Superglue To Stop Infant Brain Aneurysm

Doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital expect a three-week-old girl to make a full recovery after they closed an aneurysm in her brain, using super glue. 

Jared and Gina Julian knew there was something wrong with their three-week-old daughter.  Her mother says little Ashlyn began screaming and showing other symptoms.

“She was very stiff, then very rag-doll limp, and then kind of not super responsive,” says Gina Julian. “And later that night, she again projectiled, at which point in time we just were, she’s going back to the hospital.”

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Government
10:26 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Kansas Tap Water Infrastructure Needs $4.2 Billion

A new EPA report to Congress says the nation's drinking water infrastructure will need $384-billion dollars worth of improvements over the next 20 years, including more than $4-billion in Kansas. 

William Carr manages the revolving loan fund that finances drinking water projects in Kansas.  He says most of the projects on the list are for transmission and distribution—especially the underground pipes that carry water to homes and businesses…

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Government
8:49 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Advocates Say Children Didn't Fare Well In Kan. Legislative Session

Kansas lawmakers this year spared early childhood programs from the budget axe, but advocates for those programs say children didn't fare well overall in the 2013 legislative session.

The top concern, according to April Holman of the non-profit Kansas Action for Children, is that lawmakers balanced the budget using more than $9 million that should have gone into an endowment for early childhood funding.

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Cops & Crime
10:28 am
Wed June 5, 2013

US Attorneys To Gather For Conference On Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault

Barry Grissom at the podium.
photo by dan verbeck

U.S. Attorneys from Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa will gather next week for a conference centered on domestic violence and sexual assault in Indian Country. 

U.S. Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom says the statistics on violence against women and girls in tribal communities can only be described as shocking.

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Government
9:43 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Kansas Early Childhood Programs Face Potential Shortfall

As Kansas lawmakers continue to search for common ground on a budget, an advocacy group says the long-term future of early childhood programs is at stake.

So far, the competing versions of a state budget for 2014 have all included Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to transfer $9.5 million dollars from the Children’s Initiative Fund to the State General Fund. 

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