Health | KCUR

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.

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

Planned Parenthood Great Plains plans to move quickly to offer abortion services in Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri, now that a judge has blocked two Missouri abortion restrictions that had prevented it from doing so.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

A bill to increase oversight of the Kansas foster care system hit a snag after state officials said its wording could jeopardize millions in federal funding.

The bill would create an interim oversight committee that would study problems in the state’s foster care system and submit a corrective action plan to the Kansas Legislature. The House Committee on Children and Seniors approved the bill in March, but it still must pass the full House and Senate.

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.

www.mccaskill.senate.gov

President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are promising to take another vote this week to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. But Sen. Claire McCaskill says rural hospitals in the state could be forced to close if the health reform measure is repealed.

Susie Fagan / Kansas News Service

Republican leaders in the Kansas House say it is unlikely they will schedule another vote on Medicaid expansion in the final weeks of the legislative session.

But Democrats say they will attempt to force one.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican, said lawmakers facing tough votes on the budget, taxes and school finance don’t want to further complicate the final weeks of the session by adding Medicaid expansion to the mix.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

An audit of the Kansas foster care system found the state doesn’t ensure children are placed close to home or receive all services they need.

The Legislature’s independent auditing team presented the third part of its report on the Kansas foster care system Friday to the Legislative Post Audit Committee. The final part of the audit attempted to answer if the state’s two foster care contractors have sufficient resources to provide services and if privatization has improved children’s outcomes and lowered costs.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Lawmakers signaled Thursday that they could exempt Kansas psychiatric hospitals from a law requiring them to allow concealed handguns.

Gov. Sam Brownback has requested an additional $24 million in spending over the next two budget years on upgrades needed to provide security at state mental health hospitals and facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt was in Kansas City Tuesday to promote MO ABLE, a new savings program for people with disabilities.

“Look, when my son was born, we opened up a college savings account. You have all those hopes and dreams,” says Schmitt. “Emotionally, psychologically, that’s tough for families.”

Schmitt's 12-year-old son is nonverbal on the autism spectrum.

The tax-advantaged accounts function similarly to Missouri’s 529 college savings plan and can be used to pay for assistive technology and long-term care.

Courtesy Summer Breeze

Lenexa drummer and philanthropist Billy Brimblecom says he’s put blood, sweat, and tears into trying to be an original musician.

“But seriously, one of the most fun and — dare I say — at least locally successful things I’ve done, is this.”

File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A third of the way to an end-of-year deadline, Kansas officials still do not have federal approval to extend KanCare.

In January, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied the state’s request for a one-year extension of the waiver that allowed it to privatize its Medicaid program. The denial letter said neither the Kansas Department of Health and Environment nor the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was doing enough to hold the three private companies that run the program responsible for providing services accountable to Medicaid rules.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

A youth master plan, a public health campaign and storefront community resource centers were among the recommendations unveiled Thursday by Mayor Sly James’ Citizens Task Force on Violence.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

The head of the Kansas agency that oversees the state’s hospital system is working to jump-start the process of recertifying Osawatomie State Hospital.

Federal officials decertified the state’s largest psychiatric hospital in December 2015 due to concerns about patient safety and staffing.

The decertification order is costing the hospital approximately $1 million a month in federal funding.

Jennifer Morrow / Flickr — CC

This story was updated to include the comments of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and the comments of Planned Parenthood. 

A federal judge has blocked Missouri’s restrictions requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion clinics to meet the specifications of ambulatory surgical centers.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Pretty Prairie, Kansas, population 680, had a moment in the spotlight during the confirmation hearings for new Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran mentioned Pretty Prairie as an example of a community that’s struggling because of EPA regulations that Pruitt could ease.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The owner of St. Francis Health left no doubt it won’t continue to run the Topeka hospital for more than a few months.

The lingering question is whether anyone else will step in to keep it from closing.

Mike Slubowski, president and CEO of SCL Health, said in a news release Tuesday that he hopes to have a clear answer about the hospital’s future by the first week of May. SCL, formerly known as the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, is based in Denver.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3 FM

Hungry kids need good food. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. According to a Huffington Post article from February, school lunch programs are one of the most regulated nutritional programs. 

We'll get to know a few local "lunch ladies" and check in on school lunch programs in our area.

Guests:

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Several hundred people turned out Monday night to protest the possible closure of St. Francis Health in Topeka.

The financial struggles of the 378-bed hospital have taken center stage in the debate over whether to expand KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Marshall Pledges To Fight For Federal Food Funding

Apr 17, 2017
Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

During a Friday visit to Junction City that included a stop at a food pantry site, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said he would work to maintain funding for programs that feed the hungry.

Marshall represents Kansas’ 1st District, which includes two counties — Geary and Riley — with the state’s highest rates of food insecurity. Residents of those counties also are more likely than most people across the country to lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Renewed attention to the financial struggles of several Kansas hospitals is giving supporters of Medicaid expansion a potentially powerful argument as they work to build a veto-proof majority for a new bill.

The law signed on Thursday by President Trump allowing states to cut off family-planning funding to Planned Parenthood won’t have an immediate effect on the organization’s affiliates in Missouri and Kansas.

Andrew Goloida / Flickr - CC

Some symptoms of allergies are easily recognizable: itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion and coughing. But excessive ear infections and sore throats — even snoring — can be a harbinger of sensitivity in some kids to the environment. Even doctors can be challenged to suss out whether little ones have a run-of-the-mill cold or something more. Today, pediatricians offer guidance for dealing with kids suffering from allergies.

Creative Commons-Flickr/Valerie Everett

Additional funding for some mental health facilities in Kansas may depend, at least in part, on the number of lottery tickets sold from new machines.

The Kansas House and Senate have approved versions of House Bill 2313, which would direct proceeds from newly legalized lottery ticket vending machines to crisis stabilization centers and mental health clubhouses.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor's note: This story was updated  at 10:30 a.m. April 14 to clarify that expansion supporters will attempt to pass a new bill, not override Gov. Sam Brownback's veto.

Advocates of expanding Medicaid eligibility are planning a another attempt to overcome Gov. Sam Brownback’s opposition to an expansion bill when lawmakers return in May to wrap up the 2017 session.

A federal judge says he plans to block Missouri’s abortion clinic restrictions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June.

In a “Memorandum to Counsel” on Monday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he would grant the preliminary injunction requested by Planned Parenthood, but would give the state additional time to avoid “unintended damage” to standard medical regulations.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Medical researchers have made a lot of progress developing artificial versions of organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys, but one thing has stumped them: artificial blood.

E-Cigarette Tax Fix Moves Forward In Kansas

Apr 4, 2017
Bigstock

The Kansas House voted Tuesday to substantially reduce a tax the state had struggled to enforce on e-cigarette liquid.

The U.S. National Archives

When President Harry Truman moved into the White House, he thought the creaks and groans meant it was haunted. It turns out it was just in imminent danger of collapse. Today, hear the story of how the executive mansion was completely gutted and restored. Then, what takes more than seven years and 900 international volunteers to complete?

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. April 3.

A motion to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility failed Monday in the Kansas House. The 81-44 vote was three short of the override total needed to send the bill to the Senate.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

About two hundred people on Saturday attended a town hall event in Olathe where they questioned nine Republican lawmakers about their positions on Medicaid expansion and school financing.

Many held placards expressing support for more Medicaid funding. All of the lawmakers present were opposed to expanding the program and agreed with Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to veto an expansion bill passed overwhelmingly last month by the Legislature.

Writers Guild Foundation

Despite its shoestring budget and remarkably short shooting schedule, High Noon is revered among cinephiles. Today, author Glenn Frankel reveals how the 1952 film reflects the turbulent political climate of the Red Scare. Then: Buildings can affect our sleep, what we eat and how we feel.

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