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 / Kansas News Service

Kris Kobach says his proposal to reform Kansas Medicaid could save the state $2 billion.

At campaign events, the Republican nominee for governor touts the benefits of combining Medicaid with direct primary care, an unconventional payment system that avoids the bureaucracy of health insurance.

But the people who gave Kobach the idea say they haven’t calculated that direct primary care would save $2 billion for Kansas Medicaid.  And Kobach’s campaign hasn’t provided an alternative source for that number.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A woman less than halfway into her five-year prison sentence walked free in Texas on Monday after a federal judge ruled her constitutional rights had been violated when a federal prosecutor at the Leavenworth Detention Center listened to her phone calls with her attorneys.

Michelle Reulet, of Montgomery, Texas, was 37 years old when she was sentenced in 2017. She and a co-defendant owned a business, Bully Wholesale, in the Houston area. The government alleged the company illegally sold designer drugs marketed as incense, potpourri and shoe deodorizer.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Bad data

What started as a regional tool to identify where Midwestern voters had registered in more than one state has ballooned into the massive Crosscheck system.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Come in and sit down at Anita Parsa’s kitchen table. Help yourself to the chocolate chip cookies and she’ll get you an iced tea. Might as well make yourself comfortable.

Because for the next hour, she’s going to school you on a massive voter-tracking program run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  

“I like to figure out puzzles,” Parsa says. “I like to crack things, and that’s what this is all about.”

This week, the GOP’s gubernatorial nominee, Kris Kobach, called for more stringent work requirements for Medicaid and welfare recipients in Kansas. That drew more comparisons to former Gov. Sam Brownback from Kobach's Democratic rival, Laura Kelly. 

Meanwhile, Kelly picked up an endorsement from yet another former Republican governor. And independent Greg Orman insisted he’s not a spoiler in the race.

And new congressional campaign fundraising reports in the 2nd District show political newcomer Steve Watkins, running as a Republican, is continuing to get support from his father and a lot of help from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's super PAC. In the same period, veteran Democrat Paul Davis's take was a record for the district.

The Kansas News Service team walks through this week’s campaign headlines.


Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

Schlitterbahn employees David Hughes and John Zalsman betrayed no emotion as a Wyandotte County jury on Thursday found them not guilty of obstruction of justice.

The verdict in the first criminal trial stemming from the death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab in 2016 on the Verruckt water slide in Kansas City, Kansas, followed two days of testimony. 

At issue was whether the two maintenance workers lied to investigators about the presence of a brake mat on the 17-story slide, billed as the world's tallest.

My Fellow Kansans LIVE

Oct 18, 2018

My Fellow Kansans is coming to Johnson County Library on Oct. 25 for a live event, featuring podcast host Jim McLean and political scientist Beth Vonnahme. We'll discuss the current state of Kansas politics and learn how Kansas voters are feeling ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. You'll have a chance to ask questions and hear more about the making of our podcast, too.

At a campaign rally in Topeka earlier this month, the tough talk on immigration from Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach was a crowd pleaser.

“We’ve worked on a number of things, but the most important is stopping illegal immigration,” Kobach said to a cheering audience.

Kobach was standing next to President Donald Trump, who had kind words for the Kansas secretary of state, who’s advised the president on immigration and proposed wording for a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Three political candidates, one woman and two men, stand on a debate stage as a seated audience looks on.
Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Segment 1: As election draws nearer, results in Kansas governor's race are far from a foregone conclusion.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

The two top candidates for Kansas governor sparred in a debate over a familiar name: former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

The two distanced themselves from Brownback, who left office earlier this year with sagging approval numbers.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

In 2016, as Kansas voters revolted against Gov. Sam Brownback and his conservative allies in the Legislature, one-time Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Barnett, saw an opening.

The Topeka doctor bought a red pickup truck, and, with his wife, Rosie Hansen, started exploring the possibility of running for governor again — this time as the unabashed moderate in a field of conservatives.

Darko Stojanovic / CC0 Creative Commons

Few issues split Kansas politics like the Obama-era expansion of Medicaid.

Unlike 33 other states, Kansas still hasn't expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.  The decision would pay for the health care of thousands of people who don’t currently meet the program’s stringent eligibility requirements.

With hotly contested gubernatorial and congressional races on the ballot, you won’t want to miss casting your vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

Here’s the lowdown on registering, advance ballots, voting with a criminal record and more.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Four transgender residents of Kansas sued the state on Monday, challenging its refusal to allow them to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, argues that Kansas’ policy violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. It also argues that it violates the plaintiffs’ free speech rights under the First Amendment.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A former federal prosecutor listened to multiple recorded calls between an inmate at Leavenworth Detention Center and her attorneys, documents disclosed at an evidentiary hearing on Thursday showed.

The explosive revelations prompted the Federal Public Defender to file a motion on Friday asking for court permission to disclose the evidence “to the appropriate disciplinary authorities.”

A Hutchinson company helped set the scene in the new movie “First Man.”

The film tells the story of astronaut Neil Armstrong and NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Scenes from the mission control room feature consoles from the Cosmosphere museum in Hutchinson. A team with the museum’s SpaceWorks division refurbished 13 consoles for the movie.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Take a look at the Kansas budget and one item looms large, eating up more state spending than anything else.

Schools swallow about $4.5 billion. That spending rose after an infusion of cash by lawmakers earlier this year in response to a court ruling in a long-running fight over whether state government does enough to support public education.

Bigstock

Kansas City and St. Louis have some of the worst-rated nursing homes in the country, while Topeka, Overland Park and Wichita have some of the best.

That’s according to rankings published by FamilyAssets, a New York-based company that offers assessments and planning for people seeking home health care services.

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

The five candidates for Kansas governor faced off at a forum Tuesday night in Wichita.

It was a rare opportunity for independent Rick Kloos and Libertarian Jeff Caldwell to share a stage with the three major candidates — Republican Kris Kobach, Democrat Laura Kelly and independent Greg Orman.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Before he was governor, Sam Brownback had been state agriculture secretary, congressman, and U.S. senator. But when he captured the state’s top office in 2010 he had even bigger plans: to transform Kansas into a red-state model for the nation.

That’s not the way things panned out.

Kansas Historical Society

The federal government recently tore up Debbie and Tony Morrison’s front yard in the small southeast Kansas town of Caney.

And the two are happy about it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came in, scraped away contaminated dirt, replaced it with clean soil and spread sod on top.

“It actually looks very good,” Morrison said. “After they put the new grass in, they came down and they faithfully watered and cared for it continually until they felt like it had taken hold.”

Nomin Ujiyediin / Kansas News Service

Fresh off a victory that cemented his latest, controversial, pick for the nation’s high court, President Donald Trump came to Kansas Saturday night hoping to transfer his popularity in the state to two fellow Republicans.

Trump arrived just hours after Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court — the most controversial appointment to the court in generations. He was in regular rally form, playing to an adoring crowd of some 10,000 thrilled supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.

President Donald Trump is coming to Kansas this weekend, and some Republican candidates are hoping that will provide them a boost. That includes the Republican newcomer running for Congress in the 2nd District, who’s fending off more questions about his background, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Meanwhile, Kobach's Democratic opponent in the governor's race, state Sen. Laura Kelly, is trying to tie him to former Gov. Sam Brownback.  

Jim McLean, Stephen Koranda, and Madeline Fox of the Kansas News Service discuss whether any of it will sway voters.


About two decades ago the Wichita School Board, disturbed by an increasing number of guns, knives and other weapons being brought to schools, decided to take a hard-line approach:

Zero tolerance.

The board, prompted by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, passed a policy mandating that any student caught with a gun — or a realistic-looking replica — on school property or at a school-sponsored event would be expelled for a full year.

No weapons — no questions, no excuses.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Rep. Kevin Yoder acknowledged Wednesday that he may lose his campaign for a fifth term in Congress. “Well, I think we may be the underdog in this race," he said before addressing the Johnson County Bar Association.

However, Yoder suggested his Democratic opponent Sharice Davids is taking the campaign for granted.

New research out of Stanford University shows that limiting wastewater injection is helping to prevent man-made earthquakes in Kansas and Oklahoma.

The researchers have created a new physics-based model that can better predict where man-made earthquakes will occur by looking at increases in pressure. The model shows that the number of earthquakes is driven by how much wastewater is being injected into the ground.

Susie Fagan / KCUR 89.3

A former emergency room nurse at Lawrence Memorial Hospital has lost her whistleblower suit alleging the hospital falsified patient records to obtain higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that Megen Duffy failed to prove an essential element of her claims, namely that the allegedly false data had an effect on how much the government paid the hospital.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Democrat Sharice Davids walloped incumbent Rep. Kevin Yoder in fundraising last quarter.

The Davids campaign says the first-time candidate raised $2.7 million between July and September. In that same period Yoder, running for a fifth term in the Kansas 3rd District, raised almost $1.3 million.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Leavenworth Detention Center sits about 35 miles northwest of Kansas City, Missouri, just off the town’s main drag – a nondescript stretch of fast-food shops, strip shopping malls and mom-and-pop businesses.

The prison is a sprawling complex of squat white buildings ringed by chain-link fencing topped by razor wire. People charged with federal crimes who can’t make bail are held here.

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