Harum Helmy

Health and Wealth Reporter

Harum Helmy started as KBIA's Health and Wealth reporter in January 2013. She has previously worked at the station as a news assistant, helping assign and edit stories by student reporters. Harum grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia and graduated from MU with degrees in journalism and anthropology in 2011. She's trying to finish up an MA in journalism. 

Ways To Connect

Alan Cleaver / flickr

In about one month, a key part of the Affordable Care Act kicks off nationwide. The health insurance marketplace opens for enrollment -- and consumers can shop for an insurance plan from what could be hundreds of options. And this week, a Missouri-wide campaign to raise awareness about the marketplace begins, it's led by the Missouri Foundation for Health. States had the option to run their own marketplaces or let the federal government do it for them. Missouri, along with 26 other states, chose the latter. 

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

Alan Cleaver / flickr

Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions and the Missouri Alliance of Area Agencies on Aging have been granted federal money to hire people who will help Missouri consumers navigate the new insurance marketplace, set to open for enrollment on Oct. 1.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services quietly announced the grantees Thursday.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

Harum Helmy / KBIA News

This week for the show, I went to the Missouri State Fair and all you’re getting is this audio postcard.

First, I talked to Marlys Peck, who, along with her family, has been selling corn dogs at the fair for more than 41 years. Every year, Peck and her parents spend the state-fair week under the same tree near the historic Womens Building. 

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Rodeo clown who mocked Obama banned from state fair
  • Sec. Vilsack: Immigration reform critical for agriculture
  • Patriot Coal Co. and union strike potential deal

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

Harum Helmy / KBIA News

Walk into Columbia’s Museum of Art and Archaeology between now and Aug. 11, and you’ll find some pretty intense, large-scale woodcut prints depicting rural Missouri life staring back at you.

In one print, naked women straddle a monster truck. Another depicts a brother and sister getting married to each other. One print has an entire town going berserk with excitement over the opening of a fast-food chain restaurant, and in another, customers at a shop try on a used denture... and put it back on the shelf. 

Orin Zebest / Flickr

Talk about a paperwork nightmare: a so-called “software error” caused Missouri’s Medicaid agency, also known as MO HealthNet, to send mail containing private information of 1,357 program participants to the wrong address for almost two years.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

Teddy Nykiel / KBIA News

 

Echoing testimonies from earlier hearings in Independence and Springfield, witness after witness spoke in support of Medicaid expansion at a House interim committee hearing in Columbia on Saturday.

Alan Cleaver / flickr

The Department of Insurance has issued an emergency rule for licensing people who will help Missouri residents explore their insurance options in the new health marketplace. The federal government is regulating these helpers, also called navigators. A bill signed by Gov. Jay Nixon earlier this month added state regulations for the navigators.

missouri capitol
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

The House interim committee on Medicaid reform is holding a hearing in Columbia on Saturday. The hearing will be the third in a series of six throughout the state where the public is encouraged to give personal testimony about the state’s Medicaid program.

Republican Rep. Noel Torpey of Independence is the committee chair. He says every testimony the group has received so far has been in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Andrew Nichols / KBIA News

 

In his speech in Warrensburg, President Barack Obama praised a Missouri program that allows selected high school students to graduate from college early and gain work experience as they do so. 

“I want other colleges to take a look at what's being done here,” Obama said.

morrissey / flickr

Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville is in trouble. It lost more than $1 million dollars last year and has been running a deficit since 2007.

Janet Saidi / KBIA News

MU faculty, Columbia residents and museum associates continue to express their concern about MU’s lack of timeline for returning the Museum of Art and Archaeology back to the downtown area. The museum, currently housed in Pickard Hall, is moving to Mizzou North, or the old Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

The move is part of the Renew Mizzou renovation project, which will also displace the Museum of Anthropology at Swallow Hall. 

KBIA file photo

  For the third year in a row, the American Hospital Association has named MU Health Care as one of the “Most Wired” hospitals in the country.

The recognition is given to hospitals that work to adopt the newest health-care information technology. Spokesperson Bryan Bliven says as the technology continues to evolve, the benchmarks of the Most Wired list changes every year.

“The gait is always rising,” Bliven says. “It’s very good to keep the designation and it’s a challenge each year and we’re really happy to meet it for the third year in a row.”

Alan Cleaver / flickr

For about two decades, Wendell Potter spun carefully crafted public relations messages for Humana and Cigna, the insurance companies where he worked. He recalls convincing consumers that high-deductible insurance plans would be good for everyone; telling them that by paying more, they’d have more skin in the game of their own health.

“I frankly just got so disillusioned and, ultimately, disgusted with what I was doing,” Potter said.

He said through his own research, he knew high-deductible plans were not the best insurance coverage for those with middle-class income.

“The median household income in this country is just barely $50,000,” Potter said. “A family that’s earning $50,000, if they’re in a plan with a high deductible, they face bankruptcy or foreclosure [if something happens]. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost their homes and have to declare bankruptcy because they have been in these kinds of plans. They think they have adequate coverage and they don’t.”

In 2008, Potter left the insurance industry and became a consumer advocate. He testified in Congress against high-deductible plans. In 2010, he published a book detailing the ways public-relations practices of the insurance industry affect American health care. 

Now, Potter writes columns and travels around the country to debunk what he calls are “myths” about the Affordable Care Act. The law imposes stricter rules on insurance companies. They can no longer refuse coverage for consumers who have a pre-existing condition, for example. Companies also have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar of a consumer's premium for patient care and quality improvements, not profits or administrative costs. 

On a recent visit to Columbia, Potter sat down with KBIA's Harum Helmy to chat about health care reform and the insurance industry's response to it. 


Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Missouri's 2011 disasters cost $36 million, a quarter of what Nixon budgeted
  • State energy-efficiency loan program has doled out $100 million since 1989
  • Nixon signs legislation to set up scholarships for special-needs children

pinprick / FLICKR

 Update: Gov. Jay Nixon signed SB 262 into law on Friday, July 12. 

A bill that was pushed by the state's insurance agents association could create a barrier in getting Missourians enrolled in time for the new online health insurance marketplace  one of the key parts of the health care reform law.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA Newsroom, including: 

  • Nixon vetoes bill that would nullify some federal gun laws, GOP mulls override
  • Elk restoration efforts in southeastern Missouri is going well, MDC says
  • Nixon signs bill reintroducing local tax on vehicles purchased out-0f-state

Casey Fleser / Flickr

This week, a sweet story from a library in Oregon County, just north of the Missouri-Arkansas state line.  

Rachel Reynolds Luster is the librarian at the cozy, one-room library in Myrtle, Missouri:  population around 150. There’s one gas station and a small post office, but no grocery store or bank.

Upon reporting to work on day one, she realized there was going to be one major challenge: there were hardly any modern books.

Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) has appointed a 50-member task force to study potential changes to state’s Medicaid program.

Jones pledged weeks ago that the group will include Missourians from diverse backgrounds. The task force includes 36 private citizens, most of whom are health care practitioners or hospital officials from all over the state. A few are from consumer advocacy groups. One person identified as a Medicaid recipient.

Rep. Noel Torpey (R-Independence) will chair the group, which also includes 14 legislative membres. He says the group will hold six public hearings throughout the state between July 10 and Aug. 14, to get input from the public on Medicaid reform.

“I’m eager to hear what Missourians have to say about Medicaid,” Torpey said. “Whether they think it’s good to reform, bad, or indifferent. I’m expecting some personal testimony, I would think, on how they’ve experienced it personally.”

Courtesy of Boone Hospital Center

BJC HealthCare has named Jim Sinek, a long-time hospital executive, as Boone Hospital’s new president. Sinek has served as a hospital CEO for about 14 years. He comes to Columbia from Faith Regional Health Services, a 200-bed facility in Norfolk, Neb., two hours northeast of Omaha.

At Faith Regional, Sinek recently oversaw the addition of a new 5-story patient tower and the implementation of an electronic medical records system. Boone Hospital's Vice President of Human Resources Michelle Zvanut said those experiences made Sinek stand out in the pool of applicants.

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including:

  • Nixon signs budget, but withholds $400 million in spending
  • Columbia school board approves budget
  • Federal audit: Mo. state hospital should return $21 million in Medicaid reimbursements

401(K) 2013 / Flickr

 

In the next 50 years, Missouri and the rest of the country will see a historic amount of money getting passed down through inheritance

Regional news coverage from the KBIA newsroom, including: 

  • Camdenton Middle School under investigation for alleged cheating on MAP tests
  • Jefferson City School District Board of Education proposes increasing tax levy
  • Speaker Jones creates two interim committees to study Medicaid reform 

nomadsoul1 / dreamstime

Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) and Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) heard from four supporters of Medicaid expansion at a legislative wrap-up session in Columbia Tuesday night. A little bit more than half of the one-hour meeting, hosted by the Boone County Pachyderms Club, was spent debating the expansion. 

Missouri’s GOP super-majority blocked every Democratic attempt to increase Medicaid eligibility in the state, calling the program an expensive, yet broken system.

Supporters of the expansion said it would help low-income, working adults in Missouri who aren’t eligible for the program, but are too poor to afford their own insurance. Brian Smith of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center attended the meeting. He said when combined with cuts to Medicare provider reimbursements, the lack of Medicaid expansion would disproportionately hurt rural hospitals and might push them to close. 

Both the Missouri House and Senate have instituted interim committees that would study ways to reform Medicaid. Rowden said he hopes to be involved in the discussion.

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