Health

KCUR's health team focuses on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas. Working with journalists at other public media stations and news outlets, reporters Dan Margolies and Alex Smith strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Segment 1: #MeToo fallout has more parents worried about protecting their kids from sexual predators.

Missouri Legislature

Missouri’s general revenue spending on Medicaid has topped more than 2 billion dollars annually in recent years and its costs are rising.

That’s a problem for Republican State Sen. David Sater of Springfield. 

“It continues to be the biggest inflation that we have in state programs, and we have to do something,” Sater says.

The Springfield lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require Missouri to seek permission from the federal government to get what’s called a global waiver, basically allowing the state to create its own rules for operating Medicaid.

www.mied.uscourts.gov

A pediatric rheumatologist who once worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital is facing new charges in Michigan after losing his license over sexual misconduct allegations.

Mark Franklin Hoeltzel, 46, was charged last month in a criminal complaint for receiving and possessing child pornography. He was arrested at Detroit Metro Airport last week after undergoing treatment for addiction at a clinic in Philadelphia.

Courtesy of St. Luke's Health System

We know we need a good night's sleep. It’s good for our health, our cognition and productivity and our relationships.

It's so important that now, some Kansas City companies want to help their employees sleep better at night. The KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community on Thursday morning. (Alas, it starts at 7:30 a.m.)

Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

A major project designed to help improve community health in Kansas City, Kansas, has been put on hold, and local leaders will meet Thursday evening to discuss its fate.

The Healthy Campus project envisions a grocery store, expanded YMCA, farmer’s market and additional housing in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, and it was a top initiative of former Mayor Mark Holland.

Allison Shelley

Longtime health reporter Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service providing in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics. Before joining KHN, Rovner was a health reporter for 16 years at NPR, where she helped lead coverage of the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 

Kinsa

Area hospitals are continuing to see high numbers of influenza patients, suggesting that the flu season has yet to peak.

At the University of Kansas Health System, 913 patients have tested positive for the flu so far, 162 of them in the last week alone, according to spokeswoman Jill Chadwick. Seventeen patients currently remain hospitalized.

“This is going down as one of the more aggressive flu seasons in recent memory for us as well as the rest of the nation,” she says.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Perfectionism, bullying, depression and social media are a few of the stressors teens constantly face in today's society. As the number of teen suicides in Kansas City reach record levels, we speak with school councilors and health experts to learn why rates are climbing in the metro and how to help prevent suicides.

But first, a discussion on undeveloped land in suburban areas. What happens when the desire to turn unused land into roads and schools collides with the desire to keep things natural?

Guests:

Loz Pycock / Flickr -- CC

Wendell Castle revolutionized the art world. The Holton, Kansas, native was known as the father of the studio furniture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. He mostly made chairs that looked like sculptures ... and the only shop class he ever had was in seventh grade. He died last week at age 85; hear his story and what he meant to the art world.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Alternative newspapers offer a unique perspective on the news, events and culture of a city. But how are they handling an era where print media struggles? Today, we look at the role alt-weeklies/monthlies play both here in Kansas City and across the nation. 

Then, we learn how small adjustments to neighborhood parks in Wyandotte have made a big impact on the community surrounding it.

Guests:

Public domain / United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

It may not seem like a health issue at first but Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States (and first person of Indian descent to hold the post), is very concerned about what he calls a 'loneliness epidemic.' Today, we dig into why he thinks tackling it is one of the most important things society can do.

Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton / U.S. Air Force

A particularly severe flu season is a good reason to refresh our series on children's health and development. In this latest installment, we get advice from metro medical experts for keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy through the winter.

Children's Mercy

The Hall Family Foundation and the Sunderland Foundation are donating $75 million each to help fund a new expanded home for Children’s Mercy’s Children’s Research Institute.

At an event Thursday morning, Margaret Hall Pence, director of the Hall Family Foundation, and Kent Sunderland, president of the Sunderland Foundation, announced the $150 million in gifts, and Children's Mercy showed plans for the institute’s new nine-story facility, which will be built on Hospital Hill in Kansas City, Missouri.

Rugby Simon / KCUR 89.3

Today, the University of Kansas announced a $25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund the KU Medical Center's program, Frontiers: University of Kansas Clinical and Translational Science Institute (KU CTSI).

Frontiers began five years ago. It's a clinical science institute dedicated to connecting scientists at the KU Med Center to resources and innovative research tools. It's one of just 57 institutes of its kind in the country.

The university has become known for this program, along with its cancer center, and Alzheimer's disease center.

KDHE

A lawyer who spearheaded Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to block Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood will take charge of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment next week. 

Darian Dernovish will become interim head of the agency on Jan. 8, Brownback’s office said Wednesday. He will replace Susan Mosier, who has held the job since December 2014. 

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Ambulances are often considered a prime example of the excessively high cost of medical care in the United States. One ride can cost more than a trip from Kansas City to Hawaii.

But David Slusky, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas, thinks he may have found something surprising that’s reducing ambulance use: the ride-hailing company Uber.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Osawatomie State Hospital is again eligible for millions of dollars in federal Medicare payments after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recertified its acute care center.

The state psychiatric hospital lost its certification in December 2015 after the reported rape of an employee exposed security concerns and staffing shortages. A subsequent inspection in May 2017 revealed problems with sanitation, infection control and fire safety.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas’ top health official is stepping down in January, the Governor’s Office announced Thursday.

Susan Mosier, a former state lawmaker, had led the Kansas Department of Health and Environment since late 2014 and previously served as the state’s Medicaid director.

It’s a familiar story in rural America. Four years ago the Pemiscot County hospital, the lone public hospital in Missouri’s poorest county, nearly closed. What’s keeping it in business today has also become increasingly common in rural healthcare: relationships with a handful of local pharmacies.


File Photo / Kansas News Service

Inspectors arrived Tuesday at Osawatomie State Hospital to determine whether the state-run psychiatric facility can regain its federal certification and, with it, its Medicare funding.

Osawatomie State Hospital lost its certification in December 2015 after a patient attacked a staff member, prompting an investigation that revealed staffing shortages and other issues that put patients and staff at risk.

Dr. Warner / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. to include comments from the CEO of McPherson Hospital.

Two Kansas hospitals have been selected to take part in a federal demonstration program aimed at ensuring access to health care in underserved areas.

The two, McPherson Hospital in McPherson and Morton County Health System in Elkhart, were among 13 nationwide chosen for the demonstration project being conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

mliu92 / Flickr - CC

Tummy troubles, belly burdens, gastrointestinal grievances — call them what you will, but no one likes having a stomachache. That goes double for children. Today, Drs. Natasha Burgert and Craig Friesen help us figure out when a soothing word is just what's needed to settle your youngster's upset stomach, or when it might be a harbinger of something more severe.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials seeking to renew KanCare are asking people covered by the privatized Medicaid program to trust them to make it better.

In a series of recent public hearings, state officials have assured providers and beneficiaries that KanCare 2.0 will fix the administrative and service-delivery problems that have plagued the current program since its inception.

Young, Healthy And Planning For Death

Nov 15, 2017

I’m 25. Most people my age don’t think about death, let alone how they would like to die. Except for the occasional bag of M&Ms I consume, I’m mostly healthy.


Phil Prater / Public Domain

On KCUR’s Central Standard, host Gina Kaufmann spoke to Reverend Debbie Buchholz, co-founder of Deaf International, and William Ennis, assistant professor of history at Gallaudet University, about the history of persecution against people with deafness in this country — and the milestones along the path to equal rights.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Medicaid expansion advocates say Kansas policymakers should take notice of elections this week in Maine and Virginia.

In Maine, lawmakers sent five expansion bills to Republican Gov. Paul LePage in recent years. He vetoed them all. So Maine voters took matters into their own hands Tuesday by overwhelmingly approving a ballot initiative authorizing expansion.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

President Trump has pledged to not make cuts to Medicare, the federal insurance program for seniors, but Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, acknowledges that changes are needed.

One of the program’s main funds, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, is expected to be depleted in 11 years.

On Monday, Verma was in Olathe, Kansas to talk with seniors about Medicare and encourage them to take part in Medicare open enrollment, which runs from October 15 through December 7.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Maita thinks he was seven years old when he and his family were forced out of their home in Bhutan.

Starting in the late 1980s, the Himalayan country began driving out people who were ethnically Nepali. They fled across the mountains to Nepal, where they were settled in impoverished refugee camps.

“I didn’t even know Nepal. I didn’t know anything about it,” Maita explains using sign language. “We didn’t have any food. We didn’t have any shelter. We needed help cause we were starving.”

Annie E. Casey Foundation

The childhood poverty rate in Kansas has been decreasing since 2014. But a recently released report from the national KidsCount organization shows that decrease isn’t evenly distributed across the state.

File photo

A federal judge in Kansas City on Friday denied Planned Parenthood’s request to block a Missouri regulation requiring its clinic in Columbia to have a so-called complication plan for medication abortions.

The Legislature enacted the requirement this summer after Gov. Eric Greitens called it into special session. Later the Department of Health and Senior Services issued a rule that an OB-GYN had to be on call 24/7 to treat complications from a medication abortion.

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