HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

A Medicaid committee in Texas is requiring those who comment at its meetings to disclose more details about their ties to pharmaceutical companies after a Center for Public Integrity and NPR investigation into the drug industry's influence on such boards.

The state is one of the latest to respond to the findings of the Medicaid, Under the Influence project. Officials in Arizona, Colorado and New York have already taken action.

From E. coli in romaine lettuce to potential salmonella on Goldfish crackers to a parasite in salads and wraps, food recalls are in the spotlight this year. But things may not be as bad as they sound, according to Lana Nwadike, a food safety specialist with Kansas State University and the University of Missouri. 

“My daughter, my sister!” Rosa Barriga Barriga yelled through tears in Spanish.

Barriga, who had flown to Texas from Michoacán state in Mexico, hadn't seen her sister and two of her children in roughly 24 years. They hugged in the middle of a pavilion at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock on Friday.

Who What Where Nguyen Why / Wikimedia Commons

School districts across West Texas start classes this week, while at the same time they await their first official report cards under a new accountability system that assigns A-F grades for all Texas school districts.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the controversial new grading system has already drawn widespread disapproval, as 600 school boards statewide have adopted resolutions opposing the ratings.

Kansas high school juniors will have a chance to take the ACT college admission test for free this school year.

Kansas education officials plan to offer the ACT at no cost statewide in February.

The test measures a student’s readiness for college and provides standardized data on achievement.

The state is also paying for students to take the ACT WorkKeys assessment to gauge essential workplace skills.

Public Domain via Maxpixel

Texas has long had a psychiatrist shortage. In fact, as Texas Standard reports, 73 percent of counties in the Lone Star State have no psychiatrists at all. In the panhandle, the problem is particularly pronounced.

Karen Duong, a psychiatry resident at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, did her internal medicine training in Hereford, in the Texas Panhandle.

From Texas Standard:

Putting mental health services into primary care clinics is an idea that’s gained traction in recent years. In Texas, it came about partly out of necessity after the state mental health care system streamlined its services over a decade ago. An unintended consequence was that people with less severe mental health issues ended up seeking care in community clinics that weren’t fully equipped to care for them.

In a little-noticed court filing last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked a federal judge to get rid of a popular part of the Affordable Care Act in Texas. In particular, his request could affect a part of the law that protects people with pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance or being priced out of a health plan.

Public Domain via Maxpixel

On July 1, the State of Oklahoma increased prices on cigarettes and little cigars. As a result, reports The Norman Transcript, registrations on the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline have now doubled. 

According to the most recent numbers, the helpline saw an 85 percent increase in registrations in the first four weeks of July compared to data from the same period last year.

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UPDATE: The Oklahoma Board of Health has now removed this regulation, which "experts criticized as vague and legally troublesome."

Oklahoma may soon become the only state to require a pregnancy test in order for residents to obtain permission to use medical marijuana.

When Victoria Worden of Kansas City was pregnant with her fourth child, she was addicted to heroin and hated herself for it.

defenseimagery.mil / Public Domain

A task force dedicated to investigating Oklahoma’s staggering backlog of untested rape kits released its findings today.

As KWTV reports, the task force discovered that the state has approximately 7,000 rape kits waiting to be tested. Furthermore, the group discovered that there is no clear plan to remedy the situation.

One of the task force’s leaders said the untested backlog of rape kits exists due to a lack of funding in Oklahoma.

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Last week, the Trump Administration announced a $12 billion relief package to America’s farmers, hoping to ease the fallout from retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, the EU, Mexico, and Canada.

Roy Lindsey of the Oklahoma Pork Council says the aid package is a sign that the president is following through on his promises.

Lindsey told KGOU that the Oklahoma pork industry exports 28 percent of its product and depends on trade for future growth.

When bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, people can end up with infections that don’t respond to available medicines.

Several members of a task force formed by Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer to address the opioid crisis claim his refusal to consider Medicaid expansion undermines their work.

The number of children in foster care in Kansas went down in May and June, the first such two-month drop in more than a year.

From Texas Standard:

In July of 2013, 49-year-old Candace Stark donated blood in honor of her mother who had leukemia. Seven weeks later – she received a letter from the Blood Centers of Central Texas diagnosing her with Chagas disease.

"It came with a letter that stated I needed to see a healthcare provider and that I couldn’t donate blood any longer," Stark says.

The Trump administration recently announced big cuts to a program that helps people sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

A contract dispute that could disrupt the health care of more than 400,000 Kansans enrolled in the state’s privatized Medicaid program has landed in court.

Amerigroup, one of three companies that since 2013 has managed the delivery of care to low-income, elderly and disabled through KanCare, is contesting a recent decision by state officials to replace it with Aetna when new contracts take effect in January.

Veterans Health / Flickr Creative Commons

The veteran’s hospital in Amarillo is undergoing a major renovation. Since the 1930s, the hospital on the northwest side of Amarillo, with its Spanish colonial tile roof, has long been a recognizable sight for many motorists on the High Plains—and a welcome sight for veterans in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

Now, as The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the Thomas E. Creek VA Hospital is set to spend over $20 million over the next two years on renovations and improvements. The effort will focus on improving patient safety and convenience.

Public Domain via Pixabay

Groups whose job it is to help Texans sign up for health care will soon lose most of their federal funding, reports Houston Public Media.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began last week, but few Texans are aware of the fact.

Many Texans are struggling to afford health care, according to a new survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

The study found more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) said it is difficult for them and their families to afford health care; a quarter said it is "very difficult."

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In the wake of last year’s mass shooting at Texas’s Santa Fe High School, Gov. Greg Abbott released a plan to obviate future shooting by releasing a 40-page plan to keep schools safe.

Thank you to Bruce Moseley, Executive Director of the Turn Center (and semi-finalist for best beard in Amarillo), for stopping by High Plains Morning to share some information about their organization’s upcoming sporting events with Kids Inc. (or, Kids Inclusion). Together, they’ll provide adaptive sports opportunities for all children in the Amarillo area. “We are excited that children with disabilities and without disabilities will get to play sports together!,” Moseley says.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

To address a shortage of rural vets, Texas Tech plans to build a new vet school, which would be the second in the state. But A&M said doing so would detract state resources without solving anything.

From The Texas Tribune:

From Texas Standard.

Nonmedical exemptions for vaccines have been on the rise over the past few years. They allow parents to bypass vaccination requirements for their children, based on religious or philosophical beliefs. These exemptions are often referred to as NMEs. A recent report published by the Public Library of Science Journal of Medicine, or PLOS Medicine, analyzed trends in the 18 states that permitted NMEs, from 2009 to 2017. Texas is one of them.

Public Domain via Pixabay

Oklahoma’s foster care system has been beleaguered by high rates of abuse and neglect for years.

And, as The Tulsa World reports, much of that child abuse is due to Oklahoma’s high levels of meth addiction, with the state’s opioid addiction struggles adding to the problem in recent years.

Public Domain

Today is our nation’s birthday, and for many across the High Plains, it’s a time to break out the fireworks.

But here on this windy, grassy flatland, those Black Cats and bottle rockets can be deadly to you and your neighbors. With that in mind, here are a few safety tips, courtesy of the National Council on Fireworks Safety.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer says he will continue to push for a Medicaid work requirement despite a recent court order blocking a similar policy in Kentucky.

Last week, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee in the District of Columbia, questioned whether the Trump administration had adequately considered the consequences of Kentucky’s work requirement before reversing longstanding federal policy to approve it.

Army veteran Cody Bolkenstyn remembers when his vehicle exploded in Iraq. And for him, hearing the sound of fireworks on the Fourth of July can put him back into that moment.

“It’s hard to control my breath,” he said. “In that instant I feel like I just got blown up or shot and then I kind of come back to reality really quick.”

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