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

Go here to subscribe to the My Fellow Kansans podcast. This season, we look at the prospects of rural places.

ANTHONY, Kansas — Few things signal a rural community’s decline more powerfully than the closure of its hospital.

Like shuttered schools and empty Main Streets, an abandoned hospital serves as a tangible reminder of the erosive power of decades of population loss and unrelenting economic trends.

TOPEKA, Kansas — More than two dozen cities and counties across Kansas have sued the opioid industry, from a small town with a population of 150 near the Colorado border to the state’s most populous county at its opposite end.

More may still file suits, legal experts say. And those that don’t could get a payout regardless if opioid makers, distributors and vendors opt for a global settlement. That would not only end the massive snarl of lawsuits brought by 2,600 parties nationwide but also prevent tens of thousands of other local governments from taking them to court, too.

Parents of kids who are in the Kansas foster care system described it Saturday as chaotic, deceptive and traumatizing to children.

About two dozen people rallied on the steps of the statehouse in Topeka, calling on lawmakers to bring more accountability to the Kansas Department for Children and Families, an agency long under fire for losing kids and housing them in offices.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there has been a breakthrough in the investigation into the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries that has led to the deaths of 39 people and sickened more than 2,000 others.

Investigators announced Friday that they have detected a chemical compound called vitamin E acetate in all the samples of lung fluid collected from 29 patients who were hospitalized after vaping, suggesting a possible culprit for the spate of lung injuries that has swept across the U.S.

While Texas is responsible for educating more rural students than any other state in the country — nearly 700,000 — it’s not doing as much for those students as most other states in two key areas. That’s according to a new report from the Rural Schools and Community Trust.

From Texas Standard:

In 2004, the Texas Education Agency put a limit on the percentage of students it would allow into special education programs, which affected thousands. The Houston Chronicle exposed the illegal policy in 2016, and the investigation led to the Texas Legislature barring the agency from imposing such limits. 

A group of bipartisan lawmakers continues to combat Colorado's opioid crisis.

The Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee recently advanced five bills for the state legislature to consider in January.

While local 4-H groups are known for summer programming, educator Julie Kreikemeier

Researchers writing in the journal Science found that when kids get measles, it can cause “amnesia” in the immune system. 

In much of the Mountain West, measles vaccination rates are below the recommended 95% level.

WICHITA, Kansas — The water coming out of your tap might meet legal standards, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drink — at least according to the Environmental Working Group, an environmental advocacy nonprofit.

EWG found that nearly all of the 870 water utilities in Kansas tested for at least one contaminate above what it considers safe, though most water utilities in the state meet federal standards, which are different than EWG’s. 

TOPEKA, Kansas The 2020 federal marketplace for individual health insurance includes more options than ever for Kansas, and premiums for some of those plans are less expensive than 2019. But for the second year in a row, all of the plans will leave consumers footing the full bill for most out-of-network care.

The silver lining: Two new insurance companies have jumped into Kansas this year, offering health plans in some of the state’s most populous counties. A third insurer that’s already active in Kansas City and its suburbs is expanding to 12 more southeast and central Kansas counties.

Forty-two boxes of returned mail lined a wall of the El Paso County Department of Human Services office on a recent fall morning. There used to be three times as many.

Every week, the U.S. Postal Service brings anywhere from four to 15 trays to that office in Colorado Springs. Each contains more than 250 letters that it could not deliver to county residents enrolled in Medicaid or other public assistance programs.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — In 2017, an estimated 38,000 kids in Kansas didn’t have health insurance. That’s according to data recently released by the Kansas Health Institute.

The highest rates of uninsured kids live in the western and southwestern quadrants of the state, but large numbers of uninsured children also reside in the state’s more populous counties. The lack of Medicaid expansion could be contributing to the issue, but experts say it’s likely not the only reason.

A ruling on a Texas-led lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act is imminent. The suit is a Republican-backed effort to eliminate the entire law after Congress failed to do so in 2017.

This year saw the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1994, with 1,250 cases reported as of Oct. 3, largely driven by families choosing not to vaccinate their kids. Worldwide, the disease has resurfaced in areas that had been declared measles-free.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Abortion opponents appear divided on the best strategy to overcome the Kansas Supreme Court's ruling that the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure.

From Texas Standard:

As Bill Jones and his wife Kathy Murray of Austin found out in 2008, getting sick with murine typhus can be scary business. When a high fever persisted for five days, Jones sought help at a local hospital. There, he spent nine more terrifying days, while doctors searched for an explanation for his symptoms and nearly operated on his liver unnecessarily.

Texas saw a significant increase in the number of uninsured children in a two-year period, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

This is the first installment in CPR’s series Teens Under Stress, a months-long examination of the pressures adolescents are under and what can be done about it.

Surprise Medical Bills Hit Many Oklahomans

Oct 30, 2019

Unexpected out-of-network medical bills can throw patients into thousands of dollars of debt, especially in Oklahoma. Medical and insurance groups agree something needs to be done to protect patients, but they can’t agree on the details.

Public Domain via PxHere

Texas continues to lead the nation in oil and gas production, but communities in the state’s main energy production areas have also seen a rise in deaths on the road. 

In fact, energy producing regions, like much of the Panhandle, account for close to half of all traffic fatalities in Texas. 

Paul Hudson/Creative Commons by 2.0 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/6872786713

The Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database has been released to spotlight dangerous levels of contamination.

According to the database, contaminants above health guidelines or legal limits were found in all five High Plains states - Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska - between 2012 and 2017. 

A patient who sued the University of Kansas Hospital for fraud and negligence, alleging she was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the hospital covered it up, quietly settled her case last year on confidential terms.

Although the settlement was sealed, KCUR has learned that the Kansas agency that provides excess insurance coverage for medical providers — insurance over and above the providers’ primary coverage — agreed to pay out $1.8 million on behalf of the hospital and the doctor who made the misdiagnosis.

The Texas Tribune

Next Tuesday at West Texas A&M University, the Texas Tribune will be presenting a public event entitled "Underserved: A Conversation on Rural Health Care."

For decades, the populations of rural Texas have been stagnant or declining. Scores of rural hospitals have closed in recent years, and rural residents of the Texas Panhandle have seen their access to proper medical care become increasingly limited.

Texans can start buying health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act later this week. Open enrollment for the online marketplace, healthcare.gov, starts Friday Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15 this year.

Wallethub

Cybersecurity has increasingly become a problem in America, and a new study shows that some states in the HPPR listening area are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Law enforcement agencies will collect unused prescription medications as part of a Drug Take-Back Day program on Saturday.

Vaping devices and vape cartridges are also being accepted.

The nationwide program, coordinated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, has collected unused and unwanted medications since 2010. In Kansas alone, more than 88 tons of prescription drugs have been collected through the Take-Back Days program, according to a news release.

A new report shows youth suicide rates have spiked alarmingly in recent years, especially in the Mountain West.

It all started at the mall when a friend offered her a puff from a JUUL e-cigarette.

"It was kind of peer pressure," says Beth, a Denver-area 15-year-old who started vaping in middle school. "Then I started inhaling it," she says. "I suddenly was, like, wow, I really think that I need this — even though I don't."

The State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, has sloped auditorium-style seating and plenty of outlets to keep laptops and cell phones charged. This is where officials gather during and immediately after tornadoes and massive flooding.

It’s the center for crisis control. 

That’s why in September, this space at the Iowa National Guard headquarters became the incident command center for a four day simulation exercise to test how well prepared Iowa and the other top pork-producing states are for an African swine fever outbreak.

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