Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services | KCUR

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services

Nathan Lawrence / KBIA

Updated Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. with additional data— Missouri’s reporting system for adult abuse and neglect is undergoing significant changes after an investigation by the state’s attorney general. 

The investigation ended Monday, Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office told KCUR. It recommended seven changes, including a new online reporting system in order to address the thousands of unanswered calls to the state’s hotline, as well as redirecting callers who are simply looking for information about local resources — not calling to report abuse. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Monday announced the launch of the state’s new youth vaping education campaign to bring attention to the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping products. 

Parson signed an executive order in October giving the departments of Health and Senior Services, Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Safety one month to get the program running without any additional funding. 

Missouri has already approved more than 17,000 patients for its yet-to-be-launched medical marijuana program — a stark contrast to neighboring Illinois, which had fewer than 3,000 patients in the first 10 months. 

Licenses for Missouri’s dispensaries are expected to be awarded by January, and cannabis should be available for medical card holders by spring. 

At their core, Missouri and Illinois programs do the same thing: They allow doctors to certify patients to use cannabis if they have a qualifying condition. But there are significant differences in the details of each law, including who has access, how they’re getting access and how the programs can be changed in the future.

Calling vaping-related illnesses among Missouri’s youth an epidemic, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday signed an executive order mandating education to discourage usage. 

Thousands have been sickened across the country due to vaping-related illnesses. In Missouri, there have been 22 reported illnesses and one death as of Oct. 4. The majority of those cases involve people between the ages of 15 and 24. 

Missouri health officials have confirmed two cases in the state of a mysterious vaping-related pulmonary illness that has sickened hundreds of people across the nation. 

Missouri officials are investigating the cases of seven other patients to determine if their symptoms match the criteria for the illness. They’re also warning consumers not to tamper with vaping products.

Patients with the illness report nausea, shortness of breath, fever and elevated heart rates. The nine Missouri patients have reported modifying pre-packaged vaping products to smoke other substances such as vitamin E or THC, said Randall Williams, director of the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

Angela Boykin watched her cousin die from cancer in 2016. Loretta — or Lo, as everyone called her — suffered through significant pain. So when Missouri voters passed the medical marijuana law in November, she wanted in on opening a dispensary in Kansas City. 

Missouri starts officially accepting applications for medical marijuana businesses Saturday, and it’s a potentially lucrative business: A cannabis data research company estimates that by 2025, Missouri could see $111 million in medical marijuana sales yearly. 

But Boykin and other applicants are black, and even though Missouri by law can’t factor in race or gender when awarding licenses, the national trend is that pot business owners and founders are overwhelmingly white. 

Updated at 3:30 p.m. July 1 with "St. Louis on the Air" audio; updated at 6:25 p.m. June 28 with details from Planned Parenthood event — Access to abortion in Missouri will continue as a state commission prepares to consider a licensing dispute over a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in St. Louis.

On Friday, a state administrative hearing commissioner extended the organization’s license until the Administrative Hearing Commission decides how to resolve Planned Parenthood’s complaint against the state Department of Health and Senior Services. The commission set a hearing for Aug. 1.

Abortion rights advocates are concerned the legal dispute over the last existing abortion clinic in Missouri may have already hindered access to abortion.

The license for Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been in jeopardy for months as state officials delayed action on its application. To compel the state to act, Planned Parenthood took state officials to court.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer has kept the license in effect while the arguments play out in court. But abortion rights advocates say the legal process as well as Missouri’s increasingly stringent abortion regulations could discourage doctors from providing the procedure in the future.

Lawyers for Missouri’s only abortion provider told a St. Louis Circuit Court judge on Wednesday that it has been unable to renew the clinic’s annual license because state health officials have not followed proper procedures.

Planned Parenthood has asked Judge Michael Stelzer to issue a temporary injunction barring the state Department of Health and Senior Services from delaying or denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

Jamie Boyer, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, told the judge during a hearing that the department’s efforts to interview independent physicians who work at the clinic have been an obstacle.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood will ask a St. Louis Circuit Court judge to block Missouri health officials from using an investigation into a patient’s complaint to close the state’s only licensed abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood went to court Wednesday to prevent the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. But Judge Michael Stelzer rescheduled the hearing for Thursday, a day before the clinic’s license expires.

In their request for a restraining order, the organization’s lawyers also asked Stelzer to bar state health officials from interviewing seven doctors at the St. Louis clinic.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media file photo

When Missouri’s medical marijuana program is fully underway, there may be more of the drug produced than consumed. That’s according to researchers at the University of Missouri, who provided the state with an economic analysis of the program Monday.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

As Missouri moves toward implementing the voter-approved medical marijuana program, state officials on Wednesday warned potential patients to hold off on paying for a physician certification until June.

Missouri’s health department has already fielded more than 400 pre-applications from potential marijuana growers and sellers.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, which will administer the state’s medical marijuana program, won’t begin accepting formal applications for dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants until summer.

That hasn’t stopped potential businesses from paying more than $3 million in application fees to the state.

It’s going to be awhile before medical marijuana will be available to Missouri patients.

The timetable imposed by Amendment 2 – which Missouri voters overwhelmingly backed in November – will likely give the state close to a year before pot in its various forms will be legally available for patients.

Dr. Patricia Hurford, a Kirkwood-based physician, is optimistic that the wait will be worth it. She also practices in Illinois, which has had a medical-marijuana program in place for several years.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

A federal judge has declined to block a Missouri regulation governing medication abortions, although she found that the restriction “has virtually no benefit.”

Ruling in a case brought by the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Kansas City and St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips said the plaintiffs had not shown that the regulation “is a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a medication abortion.”

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.

Courtesy Brooke Schreier Ganz

Back in February, a nonprofit group called Reclaim the Records filed requests for Missouri birth and death listings from 1910 through 2015.

The California-based outfit describes itself as a “group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain.”

Joe Gratz
Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 11:39 a.m.

Battling on two legal fronts, the regional affiliate of Planned Parenthood scored a court victory in Missouri and secured an additional delay in a threatened cutoff of its Medicaid funds in Kansas.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Missouri’s attempt to revoke the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

The chair of an interim Missouri House committee looking at ways to downsize state government says they've handed off their findings to the Speaker's office.