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

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Last week, the Texas Tech Board of Regents approved a plan to study the feasibility of building a facility to house a new school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

medicaid.gov

The State of Texas has come through at the 11th hour with funding for one more month of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Lawmakers came through with the money, in order to avoid having to send out Christmas notifications to nearly half a million children that they would be losing their health care.

A University of Kansas study supports the suspicions of lawmakers and advocates who believe there’s a link between additional restrictions on welfare benefits and an increase in foster care cases.

Michael Jones / The Texas Tribune

The open enrollment period to buy health insurance through the federal government ends Dec. 15. With the enrollment window cut in half and Trump administration limitations on the budget, more Texans could go uninsured.

From The Texas Tribune:

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According to a new study, Oklahoma has shown some improvements in smoking rates and obesity rates.

But, as The Tulsa World reports, the state still ranks last in percentage of uninsured residents. The figures come courtesy of the annual America’s Health Rankings report by the United Health Foundation.

Members of a legislative task force charged with fixing problems in the Kansas foster care system resumed their discussion of possible solutions on Tuesday.

Ichabod / Wikimedia Commons

Colleges and universities on the High Plains are bracing for upcoming battles as lawmakers move to begin taxing the value of student tuition.

Health navigators are available in Wichita to help people complete applications for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace before Friday's enrollment deadline.

One of the community sites offering free, in-person enrollment assistance is the La Familia Senior/Community Center north of downtown Wichita. A bilingual health navigator is taking appointments through Friday to help people get signed up for a health plan.

La Familia executive director Carla Lee says this is the third year the organization has offered the one-on-one assistance.

The new secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families has come in promising a thorough review of the agency, staffing changes and more accountability following allegations and outrage about problems in the state’s foster care system.

It’s easy to order food, get a ride or transfer money using a mobile phone, so now the U.S. Department of Education wants to make filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, just as easy.

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In Texas, it has grown increasingly difficult for poor families who qualify for welfare to receive any money from the state, reports The Texas Tribune.

According to some experts, there is so much bureaucratic red tape blocking indigent families from accessing the social safety net that many low-income Texans are left without the help they are due. The Texas Assistance for Needy Families program, better known as TANF, has been steadily shrinking for nearly two decades.

A mental health organization in Kansas is seeking solutions from the state after a national report shows ongoing disparities in mental health coverage.

color:#333333">Mark Buck can see some of the 314 turbines in Kansas’ largest wind farm from his office window in Medicine Lodge, where he is superintendent of the Barber County North School District.


The nearly $1 billion Flat Ridge project, built in two phases and owned in part by British Petroleum, spans 70,000 acres near the Oklahoma border in south-central Kansas. But unlike most other Kansas businesses, Flat Ridge pays no property taxes on its generators to fund local schools and other services.


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Suicide rates among farmers are at a higher rate than other occupation in the United States.

As The Guardian reports, last year, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people working in agriculture – including farmers, farm laborers, ranchers, fishers, and lumber harvesters – take their lives at a rate higher than any other occupation.

dfps.state.texas.us

The Texas Department of Child Protective Services continues to fall short when it comes to responding to investigations in a timely manner, reports The Austin American-Stateman.

However, things have improved somewhat at the embattled agency. Since CPS was ordered to clean up its operation by lawmakers, employee workloads have diminished, and the agency has hired more caseworkers. But when it comes to responding to calls regarding children in potential danger, the organization is still lagging behind.

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Oklahoma schools are still using a controversial punishment technique for special needs children, and the method has caused some parents to pull their kids out of school. Many of these same parents have been led to call the police or take legal action.

A few years ago, Renea Molden’s doctors told her they wanted to take her off hydrocodone pills. 

“I was mad,” Molden says. “I’ll be honest. I was mad. I was frustrated.”

The 39-year-old woman from Kansas City struggles with pain caused by fibromyalgia, herniated spinal discs and degenerative disc disease. She says the three opioid pills a day that doctors wanted her to stop taking seemed to be the only way she could make it through work, go shopping or even fix dinner.

health.mil

Texans are letting sexual taboos get in the way of preventing cancer, according to a recent editorial in The Dallas Morning News.

When it comes to vaccinating kids against the human papillomavirus, better known as HPV, Texas ranks near the bottom. The shot has been around for a decade now, and it prevents a virus that 90% of men and 85% of women will otherwise contract in their lifetimes. In a small percentage of cases, HPV can lead to cancer.

Wallethub

When it comes to charitable giving, Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 among all states, according to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub.

Oklahoma was the only state in the HPPR listening area to make the top 10, though Kansas was close behind at number 12. 

Nebraska landed at number 20, and Colorado just missed making the top half of states, with an appearance at number 26 on the list.

CCO Creative Commons

Colorado is taking its battle against human trafficking to the road.

As The Denver Post reports, proposed legislation in Colorado would use the eyes and ears of the road – truckers – to battle the state’s growing battle with human trafficking.

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Oklahoma has once again been ranked first in the nation when it comes to slashing funding for education.

As KOSU reports, over the past decade Oklahoma has cut school funding more per-pupil than any other state. According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since 2008, the amount of funding available per pupil in Oklahoma has dropped by almost 30 percent.

The deadline to sign up for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplace is less than three weeks away, on Dec. 15—several weeks earlier than last year’s deadline. It's not the only change in the marketplace.

Public Domain

The State of Texas is scrambling to find a way to avoid telling nearly half a million Texas kids that they’ve lost health coverage this holiday season.

As things currently stand, hundreds of thousands of children in Texas will be informed of their lost coverage three days before Christmas.

Pixabay

If Congress doesn’t act in the next two months to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, more than 75,000 children and pregnant women will be without insurance.

As The Denver Post reports, Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP – called the Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+ in Colorado - provides coverage for children in families that bring in just enough income to be above the cutoff for Medicaid and federal funding for the program officially expired last month.

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Coloradans will soon see commercials warning about the dangers of using tobacco products.

The tobacco industry will start running the ads this week in Colorado, as Colorado Public Radio reports, due to an 11-year-old court ruling that found tobacco companies had misled the public about the dangers of cigarettes.

Goodfellow AFB

Potter County, Texas, which encompasses part of Amarillo, is considering launching a lawsuit against major drug companies.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the county hopes to win back some of the money spent in the battle against the opioid scourge. Attorney Jack Walker has asked Potter County to join in the lawsuit being filed by his Dallas firm.

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Texans only have a few weeks to wait until medical marijuana becomes legal in the state. But, as The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, only Texans with the most tenacious forms of epilepsy will be allowed to purchase the drug.

Marijuana plants are currently being grown in South-Central Texas. The active ingredients in the plants will be converted to liquids and sold in droppers to epileptics before the end of this year.

Children who come from low-income families, have disabilities, aren’t white or don’t speak English at home appear to be disproportionately paying the price of Kansas’ teacher shortage, according to an analysis by the Kansas News Service.

Particularly affected are Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City — southwest Kansas towns where most of the students come from low-income families and more than half face the added challenge of building math, literacy and other skills while acquiring English as a second language.

change.org

The two largest universities in Texas own hundreds of thousands of acres across West Texas—and the University of Texas and Texas A&M are increasingly leasing that land to solar and wind operations.

As The Daily Texan reports, the two universities combined control over 2.1 million acres of land statewide. The universities have often fueled their growth in the past by leasing acreage to oil and natural gas producers.

Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed an executive order declaring that all school districts that spend less than 60% of their budgets on instruction should be consolidated, reports The Oklahoman.

Put more simply, a school district must be spending six out of every ten dollars to pay teachers. If not, the district will be forced to combine with a nearby district, or share budgets, maintenance, equipment, and other employees like janitors and counselors.

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