Health and Wealth

Darvin Bentlage says his health insurance plan used to be the same as all the other cattle farmers in Barton County, Mo.: stay healthy until he turned 65, then get on Medicare. But when he turned 50, things did not go according to plan.

“Well, I had a couple issues,” he says.

He’s putting it mildly.


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In a letter sent to Congress Wednesday, the American Medical Association said it could not support the American Health Care Act "as drafted." The bill was released Monday evening as congressional Republicans' replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 

Ahead of the association's decision, KBIA sat down to talk healthcare reform with Dr. David Barbe, president-elect of the American Medical Association and a practicing physician in rural Mountain Grove, Mo. 


This story has been updated on March 7, 2017.

Missouri State Senator David Sater is looking for ways to reduce the amount of money his state spends on Medicaid, because, as he sees it, “the Medicaid program is eating out lunch right now.”

His idea? To voluntarily cap the amount of Medicaid funding coming from the federal government. 


Anti-abortion groups in Missouri helped boost many Republican candidates to victory in November, and they’re now eagerly waiting to see how those lawmakers advance their cause.

Missouri legislators have filed dozens of restrictive abortion bills, including two that would outlaw abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy rather than the current 21-weeks and six days.

Courtesy of Dr. Nabil Al-Khalisi

How hard is it for an Iraqi to get a visa to the United States? Ask Dr. Nabil Al-Khalisi, a French-born Iraqi doctor with a track record of working with Americans and British in Baghdad.

Al-Khalisi says he spent over a year trying to get a visa to leave Iraq and had even arranged to be smuggled out of the country in a pickled-cabbage barrel before receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S. in 2010. He requested political asylum, which he received after a two-year vetting process. Today he's a diagnostic radiology resident at the University of Missouri — Kansas City. 


Monash Univeristy / flickr

Health care policy has come back into public discussion in a big way, and we want to add your voice to the conversation. Over the coming months, we’ll be featuring interviews with health care providers, experts and everyday Missourians about their health hopes, needs and concerns moving forward.


When Tim Rushing turned 50 last year, his doctor called him in for a check-up. They did a physical, ran some tests, and found out that Rushing had Type 2 diabetes.

“No surprises there,’ Rushing says. “Both my parents are Type 2 diabetics.”

He knew from watching his parents that monitoring his blood sugar would be essential to managing the disease. What Rushing didn’t realize was how much that monitoring would cost.

Turns out, it’s a lot.

When Joe Morris had a heart attack last Easter and had to be rushed to the ER, it was the first time he’d been to the doctor in more than 40 years — since high school.

Back home in the small community of Neosho, Mo., Morris needed follow-up care to manage his heart disease and diabetes, but he didn’t have a doctor — or insurance.


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

A lunchtime rally brought about 50 people to U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s Columbia, Missouri office Friday, voicing their support for the Affordable Care Act to his local staff. The demonstrators called for the health care law to be fixed rather than repealed completely.


Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump have their eyes trained on the Affordable Care Act, which they plan to dismantle.

How they do so, and when, may affect health coverage for millions of Americans. A dramatic shift in policy could reverberate through hospitals, insurance markets and the rest of the health-care industry. At this point, say health law experts, the only thing that's certain is more uncertainty.

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Pink Sherbert Photography / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Justice says Missouri counties are now eligible to receive federal funds for prescription drug monitoring programs to combat the opioid epidemic.

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Vitualis / Flickr

Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that using alcohol to fall asleep may actually be keeping people awake.

Dr. Mahesh Thakkar is a professor and neurology researcher at the MU School of Medicine. He’s been studying alcohol’s affect on human sleep for many years. He says that 20 percent of US adults have used alcohol  - at some point  - to help them fall asleep.

But, he said, “it is a pseudo-sleeping drug.  It will produce sleep for a very short time, but then it will keep you awake all night.”

Mizzou Columns
David Chicopham / Flickr

A group of researchers from the University of Missouri have found that individuals with autism need more support as they transition into adulthood.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Family Social Work, MU researchers spoke with young people with autism, as well as their caretakers about the challenges they face as they enter adulthood. 

“One caregiver described this as they just felt like they hit a brick wall,” Jennifer First said.

Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday morning sued to overturn the state’s highly restrictive abortion laws, a move expected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws in Texas in June. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, sets up a showdown over state statutes that were enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the right to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy is rooted in the Constitution.

Public health is due for an upgrade. That was one take-away of a recent lecture from a 20-plus year veteran of the field, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the principal deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health 3.0 is what the Department of Health and Human Services has named its recent call to action to close significant health gaps - through collaboration across sectors to address systemic issues.

Every morning Pat Wilson walks down the hall from her office in the Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Education Center through the gym and into a part of the building not typically associated with a school nurse: the kitchen.

There, she checks a list—posted on the side of the stainless steel refrigerator—of all the students in the school with a food allergy.

“It’s constantly being updated,” Wilson says.


Dennis Rodgers flips over a bright pink piece of paper and rattles off his choices:  “Attempt resuscitation or do not attempt resuscitation... to do limited intervention or to take no medical intervention… whether to intubate or not to intubate.”


As of the September 30, a relatively unknown herbal supplement called kratom will likely join the ranks of Schedule 1 drugs in the U.S. - alongside drugs like heroin, LSD and marijuana.

This supplement has been traditionally used in Southeast Asia, but has recently gained popularity in the United States as a way to manage opioid withdrawal or chronic pain without the use of prescription medications.

Researchers and people using the herb decry the DEA’s move to criminalize it, which they say will stall research and deprive many Americans of a presumably harmless substitute to stronger prescription painkillers.


 

It was a busy summer for environmental safety workers at the school district in Rochester, New York, where employees sampled over 2,000 school water fixtures and replaced nearly 20 percent of them, after finding problematic levels of lead.

 

29-year-old Zach Heath was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer on Christmas Eve last year. His response was to bury himself in his basement with a PlayStation 4 and Call of Duty. 

“[I] just shot people in video games for about eight hours, and that was how I kind of released my frustration,” he says.

Updated at 4:16 p.m. Sept. 2 with information from pharmacies — According to a spokesperson with the state department that oversees the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, Missouri pharmacies do not have to wait for final rules from the board before distributing the opioid overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription.

“The new provisions are ‘self-executing’ and do not require a Board rule for implementation.  This means pharmacists with a valid protocol are authorized to dispense naloxone, as of [Aug. 28, 2016],” said Yaryna Klimchak with the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions & Professional Registration.

Twice a day, Angela and Nate Turner of Greenwood, Indiana, take tiny strips that look like colored scotch tape, and put them under their tongues.

“They taste disgusting,” Angela says.


An attorney for the so-called “Medicaid 23” says his clients will appeal their convictions on trespassing charges, even though they face no jail time.

A Cole County, Missouri, jury on Wednesday acquitted 22 clergy members of obstructing government operations but found them guilty of trespassing when they refused to leave the Missouri Senate gallery during a protest in May 2014. The case of the 23rd defendant will be decided later.

At a small studio theater on the campus of the University of Indianapolis in June, it was standing room only for a performance of the original play, “Altered”,  an adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Lesli Butler played the role of Arachne, an expert weaver whose pride in her art had offended the goddess Athena.

“Without weaving I would not have found my identity, my life’s work,” recited Butler, “and to find one’s self in an art form is perfection.”

The trial of 23 people who protested Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid began today in Jefferson City with jury selection.

The so-called Medicaid 23 defendants include many notable Kansas City clergy members, among them Sam Mann, Wallace Hartsfield and Vernon P. Howard Jr. They are accused of trespassing and obstructing government operations, both misdemeanors.

At 44-years-old Dave Adox was facing the end of his two year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He needed a ventilator to breathe and couldn’t move any part of his body, except his eyes. Once he started to struggle with his eyes – his only way to communicate – Adox decided it was time to die.

Deana Kilpatrick smoked crack for the first time when she was 13 years old. “From there,” she says, “I really just spiraled down hill.”

For the next 30 years, drugs and alcohol were part of her life. Then last November, at the age of 43, she moved to Branson, Missouri looking for a new start. It was going pretty well until loneliness drove her to relapse a few months ago. She got a fourth DWI and faced up to four years in jail.


Missouri must pay more than $156,000 in attorneys’ fees after losing a court battle against Planned Parenthood over the revocation of its abortion license in Columbia, Missouri, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey on Monday awarded Planned Parenthood Great Plains (formerly Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri) all but $157.50 of the legal fees and expenses it sought after it prevailed in the case.

Eric Peters / U.S. Department of Agriculture

There's been a national spike in the number of deaths from opioid drug overdoses over the past 15 years and some of the biggest increases have come in the Midwest. Missouri is no exception and also holds the distinction of being the only state without a prescription drug monitoring database—a common tool for preventing abuse.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack head's the nation's initiative on rural opioid addiction. On Friday, Vilsack and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill will host a town hall meeting in Columbia to discuss the epidemic with media and invited guests. 

KBIA spoke with Secretary Vilsack earlier this week. 

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