health care

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.

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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."

K. Trimble / Creative Commons

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed six bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly this year, and this week the legislators had their annual chance to override those vetoes and get their way anyway. In the end, the number of vetoes they overrode was ... zero.

Jo Mannies / St. Louis Public Radio

Why are thousands of Missourians losing state funding for nursing home or in-home health care this week? On this episode, we discuss how that funding was salvaged—and then lost again. And one legislator shares her ideas for how to get it back.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders came up short in their initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they’re still working to engineer its failure.

In a recent interview, Sebelius, who spearheaded implementation of the ACA, said she knows that the law isn’t perfect. But she said it would be working better if Republicans would stop undermining it.

“The notion that this law is imploding is just not accurate,” Sebelius said.

Women are more likely to die in complications related to pregnancy and birth in the United States than in other industrialized nations. A look at why — and what people are doing locally to change it.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Everyone shares the same biology, but that doesn't mean we all enjoy the same access to unprejudiced medical training, health care or advice. Today, we speak with Dr. Damon Tweedy about being a Black Man in a White Coat in a country where being African-American can be bad for your health. Then, we get a quick recap of results from Tuesday's election in Kansas City, Missouri.

We take a look at the challenges of bringing quality healthcare to people in urban and rural communities, from a KCK clinic that serves the homeless to a program in a remote county that sends case workers to see patients.

Guests:

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care, a safety net clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, will reopen its Quindaro facility after several years’ hiatus.

The satellite clinic will be located in a church building owned by Family Health Care. Initially, it will be open a couple of half-days per week and, depending on demand, may increase its hours of operation.

Lacy Seward, social services coordinator for the Monroe City Manor. Medicaid cuts proposed by Senate Republicans could hit hard in this small town, that helped vote them into office.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

The closest emergency room is 20 miles east on the highway. That’s why it isn’t unusual for people experiencing heart attacks, blood clots and strokes to show up at Dr. Rodney Yager’s clinic on Main Street in Monroe City, Missouri.

Frank Morris / KCUR

Updated: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. to add the latest developments following news Moran will support a new plan to repeal the ACA. 

The mood of a rally outside Sen. Jerry Moran's Olathe office suddenly turned after it was announced the Kansas Republican had come out in support of an evolving GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act before setting to work on a replacement plan. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

UPDATE: In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran issued a statement saying that he would support President Donald Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.  That news quickly turned the mood of a demonstration at Moran's office in Olathe where opponents of the now failed replacement bill had been thanking the senator from Kansas for standing firm against it.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of Missouri’s largest insurers, no longer covers emergency room visits that it deems unnecessary.

The policy aims to save costs and direct low-risk patients to primary care physicians and urgent care clinics. But doctors say patients may avoid going to a hospital when they really need it, if they fear a large bill.

Cerner Corporatioin

Big names in Kansas City, from city officials to  Major League Soccer stars, took to Twitter Sunday to mourn the loss of Neal Patterson.

Patterson was the CEO and Chairman of Cerner and the co-owner of Sporting Kansas City. He co-founded Cerner 38 years ago and it has grown to become the largest private employer in the metro area. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jacie Hoyt is making waves in the coaching world. At just 29, she's one of the nation's youngest Division I head coaches. Today, she talks about her playing days, coaching influences and vision for UMKC women's basketball.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

On average, men live significantly shorter lives than women, frequent the doctor less, and die at higher rates in nine of the top ten causes of death. Today, we find out how masculinity is related to men's health.

Rene Ehrhardt / Flickr - CC

Should doctors and judges be able to decide on an infant's end-of-life care, even if it goes against the wishes of the child's parents? Does a presidential adviser owe his or her personal loyalty to their boss?

Joseph Morris / Wikimedia Commons

This post was updated at 1:38 p.m. on Thursday.

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve the American Health Care Act, touted by the GOP and President Donald Trump as a better alternative to President Obama's signature health care effort, the Affordable Care Act. The final vote, 217 - 213. All 193 Democrats in the House, joined by 20 Republicans, opposed the bill. 

This week, Missouri transferred the state-run health coverage of about 240,000 low-income adults and children to managed care plans run by three companies: WellCare, Centene Corporation and United Health Group.

The move is part of an increasing privatization of Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet. Legislators call it a cost-saving measure that improves efficiency in health care. Critics say the transfer happened too quickly, putting patient health at risk.

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