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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Oklahoma has, in recent years, gained national attention as a center for earthquakes. But a different kind of seismic shift hit the Sooner State this week—one of the political variety.

As The Tulsa World reports, this spring when Oklahoma’s teachers went on strike, they were dismissed and mocked by many of the state’s Republican officials. This, despite the fact that Oklahoma’s per-student spending has decreased by almost 25% in the past 10 years.

Two teacher associations sued Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath and the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday, arguing they rolled out a law incentivizing partnerships with school districts and charter schools in a way that weakened protections for public school employees.

Wichita Public School teachers are receiving a more than a 3.5 percent increase in salary. In Topeka, the increase is nearly 8 percent, that district's largest in 26 years.

School districts across Kansas are raising salaries, restoring cut positions and adding new jobs.

More children are being born at hospitals that help mothers start breastfeeding, as well as teaching them the health benefits.

The trend is national, but Kansas is ahead of the curve. Forty percent of babies here are born in hospitals recognized for their efforts to support breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding protects against diseases, so the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it for the first six months of life.

For the second six months, it recommends continuing that while introducing babies to other foods.

No children pulled into the Kansas foster care system have slept in offices so far this month.

Having zero kids sleep in offices is significant for the state child welfare agency, which saw 85 kids crashing on cots or couches back in April. The number of kids left without a placement in a group or foster home was down to single digits in June and July.

At the same time, the overall number of kids in foster care has also been dropping by a few dozen kids per month since April. But there are still 7,500 children in out-of-home care.

If the experience of getting a bat stuck in your house or office isn’t unpleasant enough, Kansas health officials say it also means you should go get checked for rabies.

From Texas Standard:

The system of small hospitals that provides emergency and other health care to millions of rural Texans is in trouble. As many as 18 rural hospitals in Texas have closed since 2013, and many more may be on the verge. These closures can devastate local economies and leave some of the most vulnerable Texans with few health care options.

Wallethub

When it comes to women’s equality, High Plains states don’t fare as well as many other states across the country, according to new a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub.

The website compared all 50 states across 16 key indicators of gender equality, looking at everything from the gap between female and male executives to the disparity in unemployment rates for women and men.

Troubled Medicaid contractor Maximus could soon have a new contract with Kansas officials that pays it more to do less.

State officials say that appears to be the price of getting the job of processing applications for the privatized Medicaid program, KanCare, done right.

Every year, 232 women in Kansas endure the heartache of losing a baby to stillbirth or infant death.

To help reduce that rate, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment began a partnership with "Count the Kicks," an Iowa-based stillbirth prevention awareness campaign.

The program teaches expectant women to count their babies’ movements daily in the third trimester. That way, women will know to call their doctor if there is a change in the baby’s normal pattern.

Who What Where Nguyen Why / Wikimedia Commons

The scores are in for Texas Panhandle school districts, under the state’s controversial new A-F grading system.

As MyHighPlains.com reports, every school in Amarillo and Canyon met state standards.

The number of public school staff members armed as part of the school marshal program in Texas is set to more than double as the new school year begins.

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.

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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.

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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.

Public Domain

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.

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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.

Public Domain via Pexels

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.

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