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.

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.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR-FM 89.3

In the last few years, professional sports teams have begun to realize that noisy stadiums can be hard on people with autism and other special needs. Among them are the Kansas City Royals, whose front-office officials happen to include several fathers of such kids.

Urban Institute

Kansas’ uninsured rate would be 35 percent higher by 2022 under the Senate’s health care proposal than under the Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.

www.facebook.com/Vitaefoundation/

An online petition protesting the Kansas City Royals’ relationship with an anti-abortion group has drawn thousands of signatures and raised questions about whether the team is endorsing the group’s views.

Royals officials say the team takes no position on “culturally sensitive issues.” But the advertising relationship with the Vitae Foundation, now in its second year, appears to go beyond advertising and lend the Royals’ stamp of approval to an organization that promotes pregnancy centers, which have been widely criticized for disseminating medically inaccurate information.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran is opposed to a bill crafted in secret by Republican leaders to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But speaking to an overflow crowd at a town hall meeting Thursday in northwest Kansas, Moran said he is open to supporting a revised version if GOP leaders can address his concerns.

“I would be anxious to see if that bill can get to the point in which I think it’s beneficial for Kansas,” Moran said.

File Photo / U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran will have his first town hall meeting Thursday since announcing his opposition to the Republican Obamacare replacement bill.

Opponents of the bill have been working to generate a big crowd for the meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. at the McKenna Youth and Activity Center in Palco, a small town just north of Hays in northwest Kansas.

A Parents' Guide To Summertime Safety

Jul 5, 2017
Dan Eckert / Flickr - CC

For kids, summer means running through the scorching heat to cannonball into a cool pool. For parents, it means maintaining a watchful eye to keep children safe. Today, we talk with pediatric experts about basic warm weather first-aid and handling scenarios like drowning, bug bites, scrapes and more.

Broch Slabach

The health care plan unveiled last month by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate met with fierce opposition from hospital, doctor and patient advocacy groups. Among them was the National Rural Health Association, which is based in Leawood, Kansas, and represents doctors, nurses and hospitals in rural areas nationwide. 

File Photo / KCUR

On any given school day at Kansas City Kansas Public Schools, students with disabilities receive an array of medical and support services, from physical therapy to help from nurses.

The services are meant to ensure access to education for all children, said Michelle Colvin, director of special education for the district.

“All means all,” Colvin said. “It benefits us to include everyone in our education system.”

Just hours before Missouri’s new fiscal year begins, Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday announced that he was trimming more than $250 million in budgeted state spending, concerned that the state’s income would not cover all of legislators’ allocations.

Most of the trims, called “withholds,” are temporary and could be restored if the state’s finances improve. They largely affect dozens of programs in the state’s departments of health, social services and higher education.  For example, Greitens is withholding $60 million of the state’s share of Medicaid spending but predicts the money likely won’t be needed to match the federal portion of the Medicaid spending.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

State health officials say a Missouri resident has tested positive for a rare virus spread by ticks, and they are encouraging people to protect themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) that the resident tested positive for the Bourbon virus, according to a DHSS news release.

Paul Sableman / Creative Commons-Flickr

Centene Corp. will step into the breach created by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s decision last month to exit the Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2018.

The Clayton, Mo.-based insurer will begin selling health plans next year in all 25 western Missouri counties that Blue KC’s withdrawal would have left “bare” — that is, without any insurer offering health plans in the individual market. 

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Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Twenty-four-year-old Kalee Woody says that when she was growing up in Bronaugh, Missouri, she saw the small town slowly fading, as businesses closed, growth stagnated and residents had to drive to other places to see a doctor.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikipedia Commons

In a post Tuesday on the Health Affairs blog, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius calls the Republican health care plans passed by the House and proposed by the Senate “a very cruel war on the poor.”

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. June 27.

Disability rights advocates are among the strongest opponents of the Obamacare replacement legislation that Republicans are attempting to push through Congress.

If anything resembling the bill that the U.S. House approved in May or the one the Senate is considering passes, they say it will roll back decades of progress. 

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

Aubri Thompson has already had her share of challenges by age 21: She left the foster care system without a designated caregiver, lived without a steady home for more than a year and became a single parent before finishing college.

Thompson lived in the Kansas foster care system from age 14, when she was reported as a runaway, until she “aged out” at 18. During that time, she moved 21 times, staying in foster homes, group homes and mental health treatment facilities.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday signed a bill creating a task force to examine the Kansas foster care system.

The number of children in the Kansas foster care system has set records in recent years, passing 7,100 in April. The death of an abused boy in Kansas City, Kansas, also raised concerns about whether the system was protecting children. 

File Photo / KCUR 89.3

When it comes to the “discussion draft” to replace Obamacare that U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled Thursday, Missouri’s two senators could not be farther apart.

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts website

Kansas U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts is not enthusiastic about the Senate’s version of the Obamacare replacement bill.

Nevertheless, he supports it.

The state of Missouri filed suit Wednesday against three major drug companies, alleging they fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic with a campaign of false advertising and fake claims.

On the steps of St. Louis Circuit Court, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said he would seek “hundreds of millions of dollars” in damages against Purdue Pharma L.P., Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

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.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service

The foster care system in Kansas has problems, but a national child welfare group sees one area where it could lead the way for other states.

Tracey Feild, director of the child welfare strategy group at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said work on childhood trauma by KVC Kansas, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, could be a model for others. The Casey Foundation sponsors the annual Kids Count report and other child-focused research.

Next year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City will leave the individual health care marketplace in Missouri that was set up under the Affordable Care Act. And when it does, about 18,000 patients in 25 western Missouri counties will lose their health insurance. If those enrollees sign on to Healthcare.gov this fall to buy a replacement plan, they may have no options to choose from.

That's because those 25 counties could become "bare."

File Photo / Kansas News Service

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

KCUR health reporter Alex Smith has won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for a radio feature about a deaf man who regained his hearing through cochlear implants.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

When evening falls, Brian Hunt makes his way to a comfortable chair in a sun room on the south side of his house near La Cygne, Kansas. But he’s not settling in to relax. He’s going to work.

Unsatisfied with the extent of the Senate’s new proposed abortion restrictions, a Missouri House committee restored some provisions Monday, including one that gives the attorney general the ability to enforce any abortion law at any time.

Republicans on the House Committee for Children and Families said they added back the provisions, which had been stripped from the bill the Senate passed last week as a means of protecting against Democratic filibusters, because they didn't want to be a rubber stamp for the Senate.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Safety concerns continue to prevent recertification of Osawatomie State Hospital, although a recent inspection didn’t find any evidence of the patient violence that prompted federal officials to decertify it in late 2015.

Staffing shortages and concerns about security and patient safety prompted the initial order. Certain they had addressed those issues, state officials appeared confident the state-run psychiatric hospital would pass muster. 

Republican lawmakers pushed an abortion bill through the Missouri Senate this week, but were unable to secure many of the provisions they wanted.

Democrats are happy with a watered-down bill, but unhappy with having to deal with another attempt to further restrict access to abortion and that it came during a special legislative session.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday signed into law the state’s new school funding formula, which increases aid to schools by $284 million within two years.

In signing Senate Bill 19 into law, Brownback said it directs “more dollars into the classroom by limiting bond and interest aid, encouraging responsible financial stewardship at the local level.” 

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