Every Friday, KBIA’s Health and Wealth Desk curates the week’s most interesting (or so we think) articles and reports on rural health, wealth and society issues.
Osteopathic Physicians: An Answer To Rural Health Care Needs?
It’s no secret the U.S. is facing a shortage of primary care physicians – especially in rural areas, which is home to some 20 percent of all Americans, but only has 9 percent of all physicians. Compared to specialized medicine such as surgery and cardiology, primary care does not pay as well – and the average student loan debt for med school graduates is $161,290. Only about 24 percent of MD graduates lean to primary care. That’s not the case with recent osteopathic medicine graduates, though.
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 14 percent of people in Missouri live below the poverty line. That’s almost 900,000 Missourians. KBIA’s Harum Helmy finds out how one nonprofit organization attempts to educate the 86 percent about what it’s like to be on the other side.
Herculaneum, Mo., a small town on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, was always a company town. The company, Doe Run, is the largest lead producer in North America, trucking in lead from Missouri's rich mines to a 120-year-old smelter on the river. For 25 years, the smelter didn't meet federal air standards for lead, and now, after decades of battling government regulators and angry parents, Doe Run is leaving town at the end of next year.
As more and more children are diagnosed with autism, there's also a lot more research on the disorder. Now, a new guidebook can help Missouri parents and people who work with kids on the autism spectrum sort through it all.
Initiatives that would cap payday loan interest rates, raise the Missouri minimum wage, and raise the state's tobacco tax are a step closer to the November ballot, after a Missouri Supreme Court ruling yesterday. The three initiatives were tied up for months in court – one judge struck down the payday petition, ruling the ballot summary was "likely to deceive petition signers." But yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld all three ballot summaries.
In Missouri, an estimated 835,000 people don't have health insurance – that's about 14 percent of the state's population. But in the next couple of years, that figure is going to change. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld most of the federal health care law, about half a million Missourians will join the rolls of the insured – either through Medicaid, the private insurance market, or with the help of subsidies provided by the federal government. The percentage of uninsured will drop to five percent of the population.
After last week's Supreme Court decision upholding most of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama declared victory. But there was one major gray cloud -- or silver lining, depending on your point of view -- leaving open the question of Missouri's participation in the expansion of Medicaid envisioned by the federal health care law.
In 2011, Missouri law enforcement busted about five meth labs each day on average – almost double the number of any other state. The state spends more than $2 million dollars a year on cleanup of these labs, and millions more on incarceration, child care, and drug treatment.
For the past decade, Missouri has claimed the dubious distinction of the most meth busts of any state in the nation. In this week's Health & Wealth update, reporter Kyle Deas has the first in a two-part-series on Missouri's unique meth addiction.
Columbia has lots of community gardens, and several school gardens. But school-community gardens? On Tuesday at Ridgewood Elementary, the school and community worked together to start planting the city's first community garden at a public school.
Back in the late 1980s, while the nation was in the grips of the war on drugs, some courts started experimenting with alternative sentencing programs they hoped would be cheaper and more effective than incarceration. This week, the most recent batch of offenders graduated from the Boone County drug court, which is seen as a national role-model.
Afghan war veteran Jacob George is a self-proclaimed hillbilly farmer from the Ouachita Mountains in Arkansas. After three tours as a combat engineer, he now spends his days bicycling around the country protesting U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. He recently passed through Missouri on his way to protest the NATO summit taking place in Chicago next week.
In Missouri state prisons, about 60 percent of inmates have kids. That's 18,000 moms and dads behind bars – and tens of thousands of kids on the other side. To help those parents and kids connect, volunteers make their way through the metal detectors at Missouri state prisons with big tubs of blank tapes and CDs, stamped envelopes, and lots of children's books.
You have probably heard the statistic: Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation – just 17 cents a pack, compared to the national average of $1.46. In this week's Health & Wealth update, public health advocates want to raise Missouri's tobacco tax to deter people from smoking, and to help offset the costs that tobacco incurs.