Health and Wealth

For five years now, the Missouri legislature has considered legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring database that would allow pharmacists and physicians to look at their patient's prescription history for signs of misuse of narcotics. And for five years, Missouri pharmacists like Erica Hopkins have watched those efforts fail with disappointment.


A lawsuit alleging the Missouri Department of Corrections systematically denies medical treatment to prisoners with chronic hepatitis C has taken a big leap forward after a judge certified it as a class action.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey last week ruled that the lawsuit, which was filed in December, meets all the requirements for class certification, including numerous plaintiffs and common issues of law and fact.

Nurse Catherine “Bizz” Grimes moves like her name sounds: at a frenetic pace. She darts across the hall from the prenatal diagnosis clinic at Indiana University Health University Hospital in Indianapolis, sits down at her cubicle, puts on her headset over curly white blonde hair and starts dialing.

$1.25 million.

That’s the size of the bill that could have shuttered the only public hospital in rural Pemiscot County, Missouri in August 2013.

The public has weighed in on Indiana’s proposal to add a work requirement to its unique Medicaid program, the Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP 2.0.  More than 40 people submitted their opinions to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as of July 18, showing overwhelming disapproval of the proposal.

Centene Corp. will step into the breach created by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s decision last month to exit the Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2018.

The Clayton, Mo.-based insurer will begin selling health plans next year in all 25 western Missouri counties that Blue KC’s withdrawal would have left “bare” — that is, without any insurer offering health plans in the individual market. 

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Public health experts on a panel in St. Louis Friday admonished Missouri lawmakers for failing to pass a prescription drug monitoring bill during the last legislative session. They also called for more treatment centers.

At least 712 people died after opioid overdoses in the bi-state St. Louis region last year — nearly 200 more than the year before, according to the anti-addiction group NCADA St. Louis. Missouri is the only state without a statewide database.

For the hundreds of rural hospitals struggling to stay in business, health policy decisions made in Washington D.C. this summer could make survival a lot tougher.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City announced on Wednesday that it will not offer individual plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges next year The move will affect about 67,000 people across 30 counties in Missouri and two counties in Kansas

“Through 2016 we have lost more than  $100 million [on ACA plans],” the company’s CEO Danette Wilson said in a release. “This is unsustainable for our company.”


The Affordable Care Act did a lot to expand HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention for people at highest risk for the disease. Many gay men and other men who have sex with men gained health insurance and new infections went down. The estimated number of annual HIV infections in the United States declined 18 percent among gay and bisexual men between 2008 and 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Two-year-old Ryan Lennon Fines is sitting on his family’s couch flipping through a picture book of emergency vehicles. He’s looking for the motorcycle, but first he stops on the page with an airplane.

“That’s an air ambulance,” his father Scott Fines tells him, “you’ve been on one of those.”

When Ryan was born on Christmas day 2014, his mouth wasn’t connected to his stomach. It’s a condition known as esophageal atresia. After three months in a NICU in St. Louis the family flew to Boston, where Ryan had surgery.

In the current debates over health care, one topic rarely gets mentioned: dental health benefits. That’s because dental health has historically been separated from the rest of medicine. But today, that separation leaves many Americans with no way to prevent or treat debilitating dental health problems.

Author Mary Otto tells the story of the rampant disparities in dental health in the United States and how those play into other disparities of race, class and income in her new book, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.


As the outreach counselor for Battle High School in Columbia, Missouri. Dana Harris’s job is connecting students with services when they have mental and emotional troubles such as ADHD, anxiety or depression.

Pictures of Money / Flickr

 Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans without insurance must pay a penalty when they file their federal tax returns. But recent efforts to repeal the ACA have caused some confusion. KBIA’s Michaela Tucker spoke with University of Missouri Extension Professor Andrew Zumwalt to clarify, before this year’s tax season is over.

 

 

When filing taxes, Americans can fall into three categories for the ACA tax penalty. If you have health insurance, there is no penalty. If you don't have insurance, you pay the penalty. The third category is you have a penalty, but are exempt from the payment. Zumwalt said exemptions include having income below the poverty level, being incarcerated, living outside the country and having unaffordable coverage.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA

More than 200 people gathered in early April for the second annual Planned Parenthood Great Plains [PPGP] conference in Kansas City. This year’s conference focused on expanding access to sexual and reproductive health care.

Participants came from throughout Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and as far away as Texas.

Sessions covered topics that ranged from culturally competent care for LGBT+ patients and patients of color, to sex education for those with disabilities to conversations about the current political landscape and what it means for Planned Parenthood.

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

The Boone County Hospital Board of Trustees announced Thursday it’s considering five operating proposals for the hospital’s future.

The Hospital is currently in a lease agreement through the year 2020 with St. Louis-based BJC Health Care. A new operating agreement with BJC is one of five options Boone Hospital’s Board of Trustees is considering for its future.

Six years ago, 53-year-old Corla Morgan noticed blisters forming on her neck and back.

“I couldn’t sleep because when I took my shirt off, if my shirt touched my skin, the skin just peeled off,” Morgan says. “I was in really horrible pain.”

A federal judge says he plans to block Missouri’s abortion clinic restrictions in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June.

In a “Memorandum to Counsel” on Monday, U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs said he would grant the preliminary injunction requested by Planned Parenthood, but would give the state additional time to avoid “unintended damage” to standard medical regulations.

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acephotos1 / dreamstime

House members are advancing a bill to make Missouri the last state to adopt a database to track addictive prescription drugs but the measure still has a long way to go.

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.


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. 


Veterans Hospital Opens New Patient Education Center

Feb 22, 2017

The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital began hosting classes at its new Patient Education Center on January 29. The center is a space within the hospital designated for classes that target veterans’ health. 

Although the majority of the classes were already being offered, the new center makes them more accessible. Additionally, the center is outfitted with a kitchen that makes classes such as a healthy cooking class possible.


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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