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health care

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89-three

Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said Wednesday afternoon that the VA has reached a 10-year, $10 billion contract with Cerner Corp. to update the VA’s electronic health record system.

The deal calls for the North Kansas City-based company to use the same platform as the one it’s implementing for the Department of Defense so that the two giant agencies’ record systems can “talk” to one another. Cerner secured the defense department contract, worth more than $4 billion, in 2015.

A prosthetic hip made from titanium alloy.
Wellcome Images / Welcome Trust

Segment 1: How tax increment financing helps blighted neighborhoods.

Last week, we heard arguments opposed to tax increment financing, a tax abatement measure used to incentivize urban developement. Today, we learned about the benefits of TIF districts, and why supporters say they're a crucial tool to revitalizing our neighborhoods.

Josie Hoskins seated in the KCUR studio wearing headphones and with a microphone in front of him.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Few infected convicts in Missouri prisons are receiving newer hepatitis C drugs that are more effective, and more expensive.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Joe Watson has lived a troubled life. He had a traumatic childhood, spent years addicted to cocaine and meth and is now serving a 20 year sentence in the Jefferson City Correction Center for second degree murder.

But the 47-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native was shaken to his core by the death of his friend and fellow inmate Stevie Jimerson from hepatitis C early last year. 

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers have struck a deal to end their session-long battle over Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer's plan to tighten eligibility for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

The compromise, detailed in the final budget bill of the 2018 session, blocks Colyer from implementing a work requirement and lifetime benefit cap as part of his planned “KanCare 2.0” makeover of the program. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

It’s a common refrain in career and technical education: school must prepare students for jobs that haven’t been invented yet.

To do that, vocational training centers are undergoing high-tech transformations, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Lee’s Summit. The gleaming, $64 million Missouri Innovation Campus that opened last fall has been hailed as a game changer for accelerating the time it takes for a four-year degree after high school.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers gave the go-ahead Monday to expand telemedicine services after reaching agreement on abortion language that had threatened to scuttle the move.

The bill cleared the state Senate and House by large margins, but only after eleventh-hour brinksmanship that gave anti-abortion forces the assurances they demanded.

Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization, fought for weeks to maintain a clause in the legislation designed to discourage a court challenge over its ban on drug-induced abortions.

Dank Depot / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: What science does (and doesn't) know about medical marijuana.

Missouri and Kansas are edging closer to legalizing medical marijuana under limited circumstances, but what do we really know about its health effects? While state lawmakers debate possible harms or benefits of cannabis and its derivatives, we spoke with a scientist who helped write a major study about the good, bad and unknown health effects of marijuana.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

This story was updated on April 28 to reflect that the hospital leased space from Research Hospital. 

Select Specialty Hospital-Western Missouri, a long-term acute care facility that leases space from Research Hospital on East Meyer Boulevard in Kansas City, is closing its doors and laying off 105 employees.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Nashville-based company that provides health and dental care for the 1,000 inmates at the Jackson County Detention Center has told the county it is pulling out of its three-year contract early.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials are moving to protect more than 800 vulnerable residents of 15 financially troubled nursing homes across the state.

The Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is seeking court orders to put the facilities — currently operated by a New Jersey company — into receivership.

file photo / Harvest Public Media

Lawmakers in the Kansas House rejected an effort Monday to allow medical marijuana in the state.

But they advanced a plan to allow the sale of some products made from cannabis — if the high-producing compounds have been removed.

The discussion over legalizing cannabis for medical purposes came as lawmakers considered regular updates to the state’s drug laws.

Center for Youth Wellness

Segment 1: How trauma and abuse in childhood can mean a lifetime of illness.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris had already established herself as a provider of care to vulnerable children when she met a patient named Diego, but the boy changed her way of thinking about the effects of toxic stress. We spoke with the doctor about Diego's story, and about the connections between childhood trauma and lifelong illness.

Heartland Community Health Center

This story was updated at 3:22 p.m. on March 15 to include Jon Stewart's statement.   

The CEO of a safety net clinic in Lawrence, Kansas, has been suspended pending completion of a review of the organization's finances.

In a release Wednesday evening, the board of Heartland Community Health Center said it had suspended Jon Stewart and appointed the clinic’s chief operating officer as interim CEO.

LeAnn Mueller / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: High-energy ensemble re-imagines jazz music for a younger generation.

The combination of french fries and Champagne, casual and sophisticated, is an accurate representation of The Hot Sardines' lively music. (It's also the title of their latest album.) Today, we talked with members of the group about their younger audiences, their resident tap dancer and how they fill old tunes with new energy.

Mike Sherry / KCUR 89.3

The proposed budget for Kansas City, Missouri, keeps overall funding for safety net health care providers steady at $31.9 million, but the majority of those programs would see budget cuts. 

Samuel U. Rodgers Health Center is facing the biggest cut. The city has proposed cutting their funding by just over half a million dollars for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The proposed reallocation of money from the city’s health levy would also reduce funding for Kansas City Health Clinic, Northland Health Care and Swope Parkway Health, which faces the second biggest cut of nearly $30,000.

Segment 1: A local dance troupe performs an original piece based on people's experience with cancer.

The Owen/Cox Dance Group has collaborated with Gilda's Club Kansas City and will perform a piece about how people's lives are impacted by cancer. We talk to the choreographer, and we hear from patients, survivors and caregivers.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

When it comes to packing Statehouse hearings, few groups fill a room more reliably than those pushing for Medicaid expansion.

What they’re less good at, at least so far, is convincing lawmakers and a governor to expand Medicaid eligibility to another 150,000 low-income Kansans.

They came close last year. Lawmakers passed an expansion bill, but came a few votes short of overriding then-Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto.

Richard Green / special to Kansas News Service

Amy Houston got the bad news — a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma — in 2009.

She started working 10-hour days in her corporate job to get Fridays off for chemotherapy. But that schedule no longer worked when the time came for daily radiation treatments. 

“I lost my job and therefore lost my medical insurance,” Houston said.

bigstock.com

A proposed telemedicine bill has Kansas medical providers pushing for a new chance to make their services eligible for reimbursement.

Under the House bill, introduced last month, licensed mental health care professionals and physicians can tend to faraway patients over phone or video calls. Insurers would have to cover their services as if they had seen patients in person.

Groups representing chiropractors, occupational therapists, nurses and other health professionals made their case for inclusion before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

File photo / Kansas News Service

A telemedicine bill aimed at improving health care access for Kansans, particularly in rural areas, may get bogged down in abortion politics.

The legislation would mean insurance companies can’t refuse to pay for services provided long-distance that they would cover at an in-person office visit.

More controversially, the bill would not allow drug-induced abortion or other abortion procedures through telemedicine.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Proposed changes to KanCare — the taxpayer-funded health care program that more than 400,000 poor, elderly and disabled Kansans depend on — face increasing resistance from key players in the Kansas Capitol.

A week ago, incoming Gov. Jeff Colyer promised to back off a plan that would have imposed a work requirement and benefit caps on some of the Kansans enrolled in the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Yet the administration he’ll inherit, when he takes over for Gov. Sam Brownback this week, hasn’t retreated from its call for tougher eligibility rules.

The Satanic Temple

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this month in a case that challenges two of the state's abortion restrictions, the three-day waiting period and the requirement that abortion providers give patients a booklet that defines life as beginning at conception.

Many such restrictions have gone in front of the court for years. What is unusual about this case is the name of the group that the plaintiff is a part of: The Satanic Temple. The southeast Missouri woman and the group argue that the rules prevent her from practicing her faith. 

file photo / Kansas News Service

Plans for KanCare 2.0, the proposal to keep management of the state’s Medicaid program in private hands for years to come while adding new eligibility restrictions, halted Wednesday.

At least that’s what Republican Gov. Sam Brownback indicated in a mid-day news release, which said the plan was being scrapped after lawmakers worried about cost increases nearing $100 million a year.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Nursing homes in Kansas find themselves in crisis, say the people who run them.

Where to fix blame or how to remedy things remain matters of debate.

A parade of nursing home operators and their lobbyists pleaded with members of a Kansas House health committee Thursday to fully restore cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates. They also called for pressure on Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to repair a long-broken Medicaid enrollment system.

file photo / Truman Medical Centers

A push by the Brownback administration to keep turning to private firms to run its Medicaid program for years to come faces resistance from key Republican lawmakers.

Those legislators have signaled they want existing problems repaired with KanCare — particularly application backlogs, delays in provider payments and disputes over services for Kansans with disabilities. Only then should the state go ahead with Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to launch KanCare 2.0 and its new lifetime limits, work requirements and other policy changes.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The challenges of life in poverty are diverse, and can be hard to grasp for people who haven't lived it themselves. Today, we learn how future health care professionals are using poverty simulations to get a new perspective on what their poorest patients face daily.

Chris Young / KCUR 89.3

Over the past decade, few issues have occupied as prominent and contentious a spot on the national stage—and in Missouri—as health care. It's not just about politics: Debates in the General Assembly, actions by past and present governors and oversight by state agencies all result in real impact on people's lives.

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.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Officials with the UnitedHealth Group on Tuesday announced they would bring 500 jobs to Kansas.

Around 150 of the positions will be at OptumRx's Overland Park facility at 6860 West 115th Street, where renovations have opened up a floor full of cubicles waiting to be filled.

"We're very, very deeply committed to Kansas," said John Mahrt, OptumRx's chief operating officer. "Kansas is a fantastic place for our people to live and work."

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