Health & Wealth Desk

Wednesday mornings during Morning Edition, and Wednesday afternoon during All Things Considered

KBIA’s Health & Wealth Desk covers the economy and health of rural and underserved communities in Missouri and beyond. The team produces a short weekly radio segment, as well as in-depth features and regular blog posts. The reporting desk is funded by a grant from the University of Missouri, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Missouri's Rural Doctor Shortage

Oct 24, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

There’s a doctor shortage in rural America. This is not news – just the opposite – it’s been going on for ages. Even old Doc Adams, the country doctor in “Gunsmoke,” was constantly overworked. In one episode, when he finally gets a vacation, he’s kidnapped by outlaws in need of his services. Present-day Missouri ain’t Dodge City, Kansas. But many rural doctors are still overstretched. 

Missouri Is First in Line for New Medicaid Money

Oct 21, 2011
Missouri Department of Mental Health

For people with chronic conditions, getting Medicaid services can be a confusing, disjointed experience, shuffling from provider to provider. Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, states can apply for federal money to help coordinate that care. Missouri did just that, and the news came today that the state will be the first to get this kind of funding under the ACA. Missouri’s application was aimed at helping people with chronic mental health issues. 

Reporter's Notebook: Running in Joplin

Oct 14, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

I ran a marathon in Joplin last weekend – the second annual “Mother Road Marathon,” along Route 66. It was hot, there was a head wind, and it was a long slow day. My time was exactly one hour longer than my first marathon six months ago. I didn’t have a good excuse for my slowness – I’ve just been lazy about training. But for locals in Joplin, training for this race was truly challenging. 

Lawmaker Seeks New 'Family Consent' Law

Oct 6, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

End-of-life decisions can be wrenching for families. In the early 2000s, the case of Terri Schiavo riveted the nation, as her family battled over whether to remove her feeding tube or keep her on life support. Now, 44 states have so-called “family consent” laws, which help determine which family member should make health care decisions. Missouri is one of the six states with no such law, putting families and doctors in legal limbo. But a bill headed for the Missouri legislature could change that.

Rural Hospitals Face Medicare Cuts

Oct 3, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Two weeks ago, President Obama told the nation, “Washington has to live within its means.” As Democrats and Republicans continue to scour the federal budget for over a trillion dollars in possible cuts, one group very likely to be affected is rural hospitals in the Midwest and across the nation.

Insurance Premiums Hit Record High

Sep 27, 2011

Health care premiums are at a record high – up nine percent since last year. A survey released Tuesday shows the average family is now paying over 15 thousand dollars a year on health care premiums. KBIA’s Jacob Fenston reports the rising costs are affecting Missourians as well.

ACLU Targets Camdenton Over LGBT Sites

Sep 26, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

At public schools across the nation, internet filters keep students from looking at pornography and other material deemed harmful. It’s required under a federal law passed more than a decade ago. But now, one rural school district in central Missouri is at the heart of a national legal battle over whether schools may use this law to block websites that promote gay rights.

Agriculture Secretary on Rural Jobs

Sep 22, 2011
USDA

President Obama has been touring the country trying to sell voters on his American Jobs Act. According to the White House, the bill would, if passed, give the state of Missouri $700 million for transportation projects and cut the taxes of 120,000 Missouri businesses. And agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack says that rural areas in particular would benefit from the jobs bill. Vilsack spoke with KBIA’s Jacob Fenston.

Health Care Exchanges Spark Clash

Sep 16, 2011

A Missouri Senate committee heard testimony Thursday on the health care exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The legislature must either create an exchange or let the federal government do so. Republicans on the committee clashed with Governor Jay Nixon’s administration.

USDA Commits $14 Million to Rural Jobs

Sep 14, 2011

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced $14 million in new funding Wednesday to help stimulate rural job growth. Small businesses across the country will get money, including a tiny airport in southern Missouri.

Health Reform Targets Health Literacy

Sep 13, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

Nearly one million more Americans were without health insurance in 2010, compared with the year before. That’s according to new Census numbers released Tuesday, which also show the Midwest has one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the nation. But even for people who have health insurance, understanding a doctor’s orders can be an obstacle to getting good care.

Most Missourians Still Oppose Health Care Law

Sep 13, 2011

Americans now know less about the main provisions of Obama’s health care reform law than they did at the end of last year. That’s according to the latest monthly poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Here in Missouri, a majority continues to oppose the law.

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