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

Flickr Creative Commons

It appears that the historic raise promised to Oklahoma’s teachers may be in trouble.

As The Guardian reports, despite promises made by state lawmakers to give Oklahoma’s educators a $6,100 a year pay increase, conservative activists in the state are circulating a petition to rescind the tax hikes meant to pay for the raises.

Adrian Jones. Evan Brewer. Conner Hawes. Lucas Hernandez.

News coverage of those children’s deaths and others under the state’s watch galvanized public outrage over the past three years and drew more scrutiny to the troubled child welfare system in Kansas.

Texans think the Legislature should expand Medicaid to more low-income people and make health care more affordable, according to a survey released today from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Kansas teachers have lost their second attempt to get tenure back for thousands of educators through the courts — but say they will continue their battle at the Legislature.

“So this is a disappointment,” teachers union spokesman Marcus Baltzell said of the decision handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court Friday. “But it's just one step."

Friday’s decision from the state’s highest court was unanimous.

Justin Cozart / Wikimedia Commons

According to a new survey in Amarillo, most residents of the city feel safe.

As The Amarillo Globe-News­ reports, more than 80 percent of the survey’s respondents said they feel “somewhat safe,” “very safe” or “neutral” in Amarillo.

Werneuchen / Wikimedia Commons

A number of abortion-rights groups are suing the State of Texas, in an attempt to overturn dozens of laws they say hinder the rights of Texas women.

As The Dallas Morning-News reports, six organizations and one doctor have brought a federal suit against the state, hoping to repeal several laws, including one requiring a 24-hour waiting period between having a sonogram and an abortion, and another that says parents must consent to a minor having an abortion.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer’s proposed Medicaid work requirement would create a “catch-22” for some low-income Kansans, according to a report released Tuesday.

The report, from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities — a nonpartisan research organization that supports Medicaid expansion — said work requirements could jeopardize their coverage.

Only about a third of kids in Texas are getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to several cancers. The state ranks 47th in the country for its vaccination rate, according to the Texas Medical Association.

Children entering the Kansas foster care system will soon have a new short-term place to stay in Kansas City.

With kids sleeping in their offices several nights a month, KVC Kansas, one of the state’s two foster care contractors, has been looking to open some sort of crisis center for the past year.

Federal rules in place since January 2017 have not curbed the use of antibiotics in pork production, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group whose food and environment agenda includes responsible antibiotic use.

Five-year-old Ridley Fitzmorris sits at a picnic table in his backyard in Lawrence, one leg dangling and the other tucked beneath him. His eyes are focused on a row of Hot Wheels that his therapist asked him to count.

“One, two, three,” he says in a whisper, his finger hovering over each toy car until he reaches the last one. Turning to an iPad that he uses to communicate, he clicks an icon. “Eight,” the computerized voice announces.

“Good job!” cooes therapist Ashley Estrada, a specialist in treatment for children with autism. “You did it by yourself."

From Texas Standard.

As many reacted with shock this week to the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, we also learned from the Centers for Disease Control that suicide rates have risen in nearly every state between 1999 and 2016, the latest year for which complete data is available. Though Texas remains below the national rate, suicides have been rising here, too. The state experiences 12.9 suicides per 100,000 Texans. Across the nation, there were more than twice as many suicides as homicides in 2016. The CDC says these trends cannot be linked to any specific medical diagnosis. 

From Texas Standard.

In efforts to avoid strict state sanctions, Houston ISD, San Antonio ISD and Waco ISD are all school districts that have recently either considered or adopted plans to consolidate several of their consistently failing public schools into charter school partnerships.

Finding health and human services help in Kansas is now as easy as sending a text. The United Way of the Plains launched a new texting option for its 211 information helpline.

Here is how it works: all you need to do is send a text to 898211 with your zip code. A call center operator will answer the text and get more details about the situation.

Kansas has some of the highest education achievement standards in the country, but students are struggling to reach that high bar.

The new report from the National Center For Education Statistics standardized state proficiency assessments for math and reading in 2015. For eighth grade, Kansas had the highest benchmark for proficiency in both reading and math out of the states evaluated.

CC0 Creative Commons

Amarillo will host a town hall today to explore ways to improve broadband access in rural areas today.

Representative Four Price and Senator Charles Perry will be in attendance, in hopes of better understanding the issue of rural broadband and how to better connect rural areas to the internet. 

According to a press release, attendees will be encouraged to voice their concerns “about the obstacles, and potential solutions” for providing better internet to all Texans.

Physicians, researchers and hospitals broadly agree that cesarean sections have become too common. That’s powered efforts to limit them to ever fewer cases.

Still, it can be hard to gauge the track record of most Kansas hospitals. When a national group came asking for numbers that reveal how regularly C-sections are performed, many hospitals in the state didn’t reply.

health.mil

A proposed policy change by the largest insurer in Texas has been put on hold after a big backlash from doctors across the state.

As Houston Public Media reports, Blue Cross Blue Shield had planned to enact a new policy wherein each of the company’s half-a-million statewide HMO members would have to shoulder the full cost of a non-life threatening ER visit if they went out of network.

MC2 Sean Hurt / Wikimedia Commons

Fewer Texans are reporting domestic violence, and police say the drop is a result of immigrant fears of deportation.

As The New York Times reports, many Texas women who are beaten or raped by their partners fail to report the crimes, choosing to go into hiding rather than appear in court and risk being separated from their children.

Gov. Jeff Colyer is scheduled to sign an executive order on Friday night that will lead to the development of a state dementia plan.

Kansas is the only state without a plan. Advocates have been in contact with Colyer since July about forming a task force and putting a plan together.

The Kansas child welfare agency is splitting foster care from family preservation services.

The Department for Children and Families put out its call for separate grantees Thursday.

The state’s two current contractors — KVC Kansas in the Kansas City metro and eastern region, and St. Francis Community Services in Wichita and the western region — have been managing foster care and services aimed at keeping struggling families together.

The company that processes applications for Kansas’ privatized KanCare Medicaid program faces potentially steep fines if it doesn’t fix problems, responsible for massive backlogs, by the end of this week.

Maximus, a Maryland-based company that specializes in managing “human service programs” for states and the federal government, has operated the “KanCare Clearinghouse” since 2016.

There have been problems from the start.

Wikimedia Commons

In a unanimous vote, the Amarillo City Council has now approved plans for a proposed Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reports, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation has pledged to give almost $70 million toward the completion of the $90 million project.

af.mil

It appears that the Texas foster care system still needs a good deal of work, despite a federal order to overhaul the system.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, last month 50 foster children were forced to sleep in Child Protective Services offices for at least two consecutive nights as they awaited placement.

Kansas universities had about 800 more students enrolled this spring than they did last year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

That’s about a half percent more — essentially flat. But flat is better than the national figure, which saw enrollment across the United States drop about 1.3 percent, or about 231,000 fewer students.

Public health experts in Texas are concerned that a growing number of American children are forgoing services like Medicaid and food stamps because their parents are undocumented. The trend could get worse, they say, if a proposed change to immigration policy goes through.  

Public universities in Kansas are proposing tuition hikes significantly lower than some of the larger increases seen in recent years. The schools presented the plans to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.

The increases in tuition and fees for in-state, undergraduate students range from 1.2 percent at Kansas State University to 3 percent at the University of Kansas.

Some 20 administrators in the Kansas agency managing child welfare and state assistance have been promoted, fired or shifted to other posts since November.

Gina Meier-Hummel was tapped to take over the Department for Children and Families nearly six months ago and says now that the changes have been aimed at strengthening the agency as it confronts a rising caseload of children in care.

Wallethub

When it comes to the availability of help for those addicted to drugs, Texas performs worse than any other state.

According to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub, Texas lands at the top of the list of states with the fewest substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 residents.

CC0 Creative Commons

A new wind turbine in the Texas Panhandle is the largest in the United States.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the turbine is located at the UL Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility at West Texas A&M University, in Randall County.

The hub of the turbine stands 427 feet above the ground, and the tip of a blade at its highest point rises to 654 feet. By comparison, that’s one hundred feet taller than the Washington Monument, and over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Pages