Jefferson City, Mo. – A final vote by the Missouri House yesterday has authorized a referendum for August over the state's participation in the new federal health care law.
The referendum states that citizens and employers cannot be compelled to take part in any public or private health care system. It's designed to challenge the new health care law signed by President Obama that requires most Americans to have health insurance or face fines.
GOP House Speaker Pro-tem Bryan Pratt (R, Blue Springs) strongly supported the bill.
Jefferson City, Mo. – A revised bill that would require insurance companies to cover some of the cost of therapy for children with autism has passed the Missouri Senate.
The bill mandates that health insurance companies provide up to $45,000 a year in coverage for kids with autism age 18 and younger. That's $10,000 a year less than the original Senate bill, and it drops those ages 19 and 20 from being eligible.
Kansas City, Mo. – Several area health providers as well as MAST are bracing for funding reductions from the city.
The Kansas City council is scheduled to vote today on about $3.5 million in cuts to area safety net providers. The city currently gives funds to places like Truman Medical Center and Swope Health Center by drawing from a special property tax that voters approved back in 2005.
Jefferson City, Mo. – A majority of home care workers in Missouri have voted in favor of union representation. The results were announced today in Jefferson City, with about 60% of the state's home care workers voting to unionize. The workers provide various services for people who are homebound, such as transportation, shopping, cooking and bathing.
The Kansas Board of Regents heard a report about plans for the KU School of Medicine to expand its medical training programs in Salina and Wichita.
KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Barbara Atkinson told the regents that once the expansion plans likely pass the accreditation process later this year, the KU School of Medicine will be able to take a major step in addressing the shortage of rural primary care physicians in Kansas.
Kansas City, Mo. – Local pediatrician Frank Vaughters was on a medical mission in Haiti when the massive earthquake struck the country in January. After weeks of uncertainty, friends and family received word that his remains have been found. His sister, Lucy Vaughters, says the news has brought some welcomed relief.
"There's some kind of feeling of finality," Vaughters says. "And the truth is a good thing, even though the truth is awful in this case."
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas legislature has approved a bill requiring autism coverage for state employees.
Senator Tim Owens is an Overland Park Republican who has two grandsons with autism. He says the bill's passage marks a big step forward.
"The state program is a very narrow program of individuals who are involved," says Owens. "But, I would hope that we can move faster than a year or two before that test case proves the value, and then we can open it up to the other families."
Kansas City, Mo. – A new clinic will soon open in South Kansas City that's intended to make health care easier to access in the area.
After reviewing more than 30 locations, Swope Health Services has announced it's building a new clinic at 88th Street and Troost. Dr. William Pankey is chief medical officer at Swope. He says there's a huge gap when it comes to the availability of safety net health services in that part of the city.
Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri House has passed a wide-ranging bill that would create new requirements surrounding abortions. The new requirements include notifying prosecutors anytime a girl younger than 18 seeks an abortion, whether she goes through with it or not.
GOP House Member Brian Nieves of Franklin County says it would reduce the number of abortions performed in Missouri.
"And hopefully, bringing to justice the sick, disgusting people that would actually rape an underage child," Nieves says.
Topeka, Kan. – A so-called "Health Care Freedom Amendment" to the Kansas constitution failed today in the House. The amendment is aimed at exempting the state from federal health care laws that would require Kansans to have health insurance.
Supporters have argued it would send a message that they disapprove of the law signed today by President Obama. But they fell nine votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
Topeka, Kan. – Kansas third district Representative Dennis Moore says he plans to vote in favor of the health care reconciliation bill when it comes to the floor of the House.
Moore serves on the House Budget Committee, which is charged with reviewing legislation under the rules of reconciliation. That committee has reported the so called Reconciliation Act of 2010 to the House Rules Committee with instructions. That's the last stop before a vote by the full House.
Topeka, Kan. / Jefferson City, Mo. – A measure pushing back against the federal government passed in the Kansas House Monday by a vote of 109 to 11. The resolution calls on the federal government to stop passing laws that put mandates on the states.
Proponents have argued the federal government is encroaching on states' rights. The non-binding measure has no legal authority, but Republican Representative Joe Patton told fellow lawmakers it still carries weight.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has announced it's setting aside $300,000 from its budget to support the violence prevention program Aim4Peace. Most public funding for the initiative ran out last spring, but some grants have helped keep it running. Police Captain Rich Lockhart says the department wants to ensure Aim4Peace continues operating because it's allowed for a more holistic approach to fighting crime.
Kansas City, Mo. – The Kansas House Taxation Committee is holding hearings this week to get more information on some tax credits. Lawmakers may consider cutting back or eliminating some credits as a way to raise revenue. Lawmakers yesterday heard how getting rid of a credit for insurance companies could cost the state jobs.
Kansas City, Mo. – In most states marijuana remains illegal. But across the Kansas City region, some people wanting to get high are turning to a legal synthetic version. It's commonly known as K2, but also goes by names like Spice and Yucatan Fire. Now Kansas and some other states, including Missouri, are moving to ban the chemicals in these herbal blends. KCUR's Elana Gordon has more on this relatively new trend and its uncertain future.
Overland Park, Kan. – About one in ten people deal with brain injury. Awareness has gone up in recent years, but it's still a silent epidemic, according to Betsy Johnson. Johnson's a speech language pathologist and director of the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City, which is launching a public forum this Wednesday to revise the plan Kansas has for dealing with the issue. KCUR's Elana Gordon caught up with Johnson.
Kansas City, Mo. – As many as 728,000 Missourians took help from emergency food banks last year. That's according to a survey by Feeding America and the Missouri Food Bank Association, which is made up of six major organizations, including Harvesters in the Kansas City area.
Scott Baker, director of the umbrella group, says he thinks a lot of people will be surprised by the data.
"When you're talking about one in eight Missourians, that's a significant number," he says. "We're talking about your neighbors."
Topeka, Kan. – Health officials gathered at the Statehouse today to raise awareness about heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in Kansas.
Governor Mark Parkinson says he hopes legislators can help reduce the disease in Kansas by passing a statewide smoking ban. Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease. Parkinson says he's critical of a smoking ban bill introduced in the House that contains exceptions for some businesses.