Health and Wealth

World War I Veterans
File Photo / KBIA

As homelessness among veterans in mid-Missouri continues to increase, organizations in Columbia are looking to combat this growing problem. 

Mississippi's only abortion clinic is fighting to remain open in the face of ever-tightening state regulations. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans hears arguments Monday in a dispute over a state law that requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Saturday is sponsoring a nationwide prescription drug take-back event.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., anyone can turn in their expired or unwanted medications at thousands of police stations, pharmacies, and other sites across the country, including here in St. Louis.

MU Extension Center

On April 24, the family resource organization Parentlink will hold a special conference in Jefferson City for Grandparents raising grandchildren in the state of Missouri. The free event will provide Seniors with resources, practical information as well as support to help them meet the significant financial and legal challenges they face. But events like this one happen only occasionally - more sustained outreach programs for these Grandparents are harder to find. Diana Milne runs the "Northland Grandfamilies" program, part of the MU Extension Center. It's the only program specifically targeting grandparents and aunts and uncles who are raising children in the greater Kansas City area.

You may have heard that dollar bills harbor trace amounts of drugs.

But those greenbacks in your wallet are hiding far more than cocaine and the flu. They're teeming with life.

Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found. Most are harmless. But cash also has DNA from drug-resistant microbes. And your wad of dough may even have a smudge of anthrax and diphtheria.

In other words, your wallet is a portable petri dish.

More than two months ago, a nasty mumps virus triggered fever, headache and painfully swollen glands among a handful of students at Ohio State University. Now the outbreak has ballooned to 234 cases at last count, and has spilled into the surrounding community in Columbus, Ohio.

"Columbus officials are calling it the city's biggest outbreak since the development of the mumps vaccine in the 1940s," WOSU reporter Steve Brown tells Shots. "It even pushed them to open a new clinic."

Secretary of State Jason Kander’s Office announced Monday that three initiative petitions regarding cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement have been cleared for circulation.  The petitions would create a one and a half cent tax per cigarette and repeal or change the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which requires tobacco companies to compensate states for increased public health costs created by cigarettes.

Conor Lawless / Flickr

The Missouri House of Representatives has proposed adding $48 million in federal and state funds to next year’s Medicaid budget to cover adult dental care. Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to the additional $48 million, but with some caveats. The money would only be used to pay for preventative dental care, like maintenance and extraction procedures. Part of the $48 million would also go towards paying dentists more for these procedures. Currently, the state only reimburses dentists up to 35 percent of usual and customary costs.

We've all heard the advice to eat more whole grains, and cut back on refined starches.

And there's good reason. Compared with a diet heavy on refined grains, like white flour, a diet rich in whole grains — which includes everything from brown rice to steel-cut oats to farro — is linked to lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes.

Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered.

To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer.

stethoscope
vitualis / Flickr

  The Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human services celebrates Public Health Week April 7-13. The department is promoting this year's theme as "Public Health: Start Here, Better Health. Better Missouri."  

Gaijin Biker / Flickr

    

The Silver Haired Legislature is an elected body of Missouri senior citizens who advocate for legislation that addresses the concerns of older adults, like pay day loan restrictions and elder abuse. But recently they’ve thrown their support behind a unique issue – children in the care of grandparents, and the complicated process of obtaining legal guardianship in the state of Missouri.  

Lois Fitzpatrick is a 76-year-old woman who lives in Clay County. In 2001, Fitzpatrick and her husband agreed to be the legal guardians of their granddaughter - the child’s mother, Fitzpatrick’s daughter, was in favor of it. According to Fitzpatrick, to obtain uncontested legal guardianship at that time you had to fill out an application, get the parents signatures notarized, and pay a $25 filing fee. The county clerk’s office would then set a date for you to stand in front of the judge. It was simple, she said. A few years later, it wasn’t.

Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

 

For years in most states, Medicaid eligibility had been limited to disabled adults, seniors needing long-term care and very low-income parents with their children.

Then along came the Affordable Care Act. It was designed to grow health insurance coverage across the board. One of its tenets was to expand Medicaid coverage beyond the extremely poor and disabled to include all adults earning up to 138 percent of federal poverty levels.

But in 2012, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out Medicaid expansion.

Illinois is one of 25 states that went ahead with expanding the program. Neighboring Missouri did not.

We looked into the impacts of those differing decisions. Here’s what we found out.

Anderson Mancini / Flickr

While the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have been the topics du jour in recent weeks, one of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare in the state of Missouri may be oral health. In 2012 The Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States issued a report card for all 50 states based on eight benchmarks that they consider important steps to improve and expand access to dental health. Missouri received a grade of C, having met or exceeded only half of those benchmarks.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Observed in the United States for more than 25 years, the purpose of this month is to educate and highlight issues associated with sexual assault.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

  

We’ve been hearing a lot about the Affordable Care Act from a number of politicians - Governor Jay Nixon, Senator Roy Blunt, and, of course, President Obama, to name a few.  These people can talk about the number of people insured and weigh the cost versus economic impact. But behind those numbers they’re citing are people, Missourians. Those dollar figures they throw around, that’s money in and out of our pockets. So how do Missourians who have been trying to utilize the new healthcare law feel about it? 

The Obama administration says it will give people more time to sign up for health insurance through the federal online marketplace.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson / KBIA

With the March 31 enrollment deadline for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act drawing near, healthcare centers across the state have been ramping up efforts to get Missourians signed-up. The group Cover Missouri organized a number of enrollment events across the state earlier this month.

(Updated 4:30 p.m. Wed., March 26)

In the last six months alone, Missouri hospitals have eliminated nearly 1,000 jobs, imposed hiring freezes affecting another 2,145 positions and cut or delayed at least $50 million in building projects.

The blame is due, in part, to the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

Tax Credits / Flickr

Missouri lawmakers are hearing pleas from low-income workers, business leaders and pastors to expand Medicaid coverage.

Witness testifying Tuesday before a House committee want lawmakers to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level — nearly $33,000 for a family of four. States that do so can receive billions of additional federal dollars under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Missouri cancer center announces partnership

Mar 21, 2014
Rickelle Pimentel / KBIA

University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe announced Friday the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center will be collaborating with the MD Anderson Network.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is based in Houston and is recognized as one of the nation’s best cancer centers. This center focuses on education, research, and professional training in advanced cancer treatment.  

Wolfe said that he predicts this decision will play a big role the advancement to eradicate cancer.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

On a Thursday morning in late February, a group of 100 middle and high school students gathered in the rotunda of the state capitol building in Jefferson City for a capitol day event organized by the Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board. Their goal was to speak with their legislators about making the building smoke-free. Unlike every other public building in Jefferson City, the capitol building doesn’t entirely comply with the city’s smoking ban - lawmakers are unofficially allowed to smoke in their offices.

“They absolutely have the right to smoke and we’re not telling anyone they don’t,” said Youth Advisory board member Alex Higginbotham, age 17. “They can still smoke in their home, but we’re asking them in public not to affect us.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri is ranked 48th in the nation for number of adult smokers - roughly 1 in 4 Missourians over the age of 18 smoke. And the state ranks 50th for workplace exposure to second-hand smoke.  The state’s Clean Indoor Air law gives business owners the option to declare a public space smoke-free, or to set up a designated smoking area. If communities want to be truly smoke-free, it’s up to local governments to make that happen. In the fall of 2010, Jefferson City banned indoor smoking in public spaces, including the capitol building. But state legislators continue to not-so-secretly smoke in their offices.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Some of Missouri’s strongest anti-tobacco advocates just happen to be under 18 years old. More than one hundred students from across the state arrived in Jefferson City Thursday for an anti-tobacco advocacy and education event at the capitol organized by the Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Advisory Board. The students delivered over two thousand signatures of support along with pinwheels to represent their desire for clean air to House of Representatives Majority Leader John Diehl. Currently, Jefferson City and most of the capitol building are smoke-free, but legislators are allowed to continue smoking in their offices.

Governor Nixon Kicks off 100 Missouri Miles

Mar 20, 2014
jay nixon
File Photo / KBIA

Gov. Jay Nixon kicked off the second year of his 100 Missouri Miles Challenge at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park Wednesday.

Challiyan / Flickr

You’ve probably heard it before: rates of smoking and tobacco use in Missouri are some of the highest in the nation. Roughly 1 in 4 Missourians over the age of 18 smoke tobacco and the state ranks 50th for workplace exposure to second-hand smoke.  But what isn’t clear is why Missouri has consistently ranked so low compared with other states. I spoke with Traci Kennedy, Executive Director of Tobacco Free Missouri, who says it’s because lawmakers have made it particularly easy to be a tobacco user in the state.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

The Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance marketplace has been open for business since October 1 and technical issues that plagued the website early on have mostly been resolved. Yet Missouri residents have been slow to sign-up for health insurance under the new law. According to the nonprofit group Kaiser Family Foundation, only 40 percent of Missourians eligible to enroll have actually chosen a plan. I spoke with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about why signing up is important for Missouri residents, particularly in rural areas.  

Compiled by Kelsey Proud, St. Louis Public Radio / Flickr

The number of Missouri residents using a federal website to enroll in health insurance is growing, but not as fast as had been projected.

stethoscope
vitualis / Flickr

Gov. Jay Nixon officially dedicated the Strive for Wellness Health Center at the Truman State Office Building today.

Tax Credits / Flickr

Health care advocates are making an extra push to get people signed up for insurance through a federal website before a March 31 deadline.

The Cover Missouri Coalition says about 40 enrollment events are planned Saturday around the state, including some featuring live music, free food and advice from tax preparers. Dozens of additional events are planned in the coming days.

The coalition also will be running new online and radio advertisements between now and the end of the month.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Some of Missouri’s strongest anti-tobacco advocates just happen to be under 18 years old. More than one hundred students from across the state arrived in Jefferson City Thursday for an anti-tobacco advocacy and education event at the capitol organized by the Tobacco Free Missouri Youth Advocacy Board. The students delivered over two thousand signatures of support along with pinwheels to represent their desire for clean air to House of Representatives Majority Leader John Diehl.

Pages