Health and Wealth

Rural Assistance Center

    

Rural hospitals play a vital role in delivering quick emergent care to people in some of the more isolated areas of the country. These institutions provide 24/7 emergency services to rural communities where the next closest hospital could be 35 miles away or more. But because they often serve so few people, it’s hard for them to be financially successful. So the federal government set up the critical access hospital program, whereby hospitals meeting certain criteria would receive Medicare refunds at 101 percent of reasonable costs.  

Since the program began in 1997, 1,331 hospitals have been given critical access hospital status, 35 of which are in Missouri. But policy makers are beginning to question whether that’s too many for the government to handle financially.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

  Note: A portion of this story was aired as part of the Health & Wealth Update for 5/14/2014

When I think about adult dental care in Missouri, I think of Ben Affleck. In the movie Argo, CIA agent Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, pitches his plan to extract six American hostages from Iran by pretending to be on a Hollywood scouting trip. The CIA director doesn’t think it’ll work and wants to look for a better option. That’s when Mendez says:

“There are only bad options. It’s about finding the best one.”

That’s what it’s like for Missourians who can’t afford private dental insurance. Back in 2005 Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Katie Hiler / KBIA

Back in 2005, Missouri de-funded dental care for all Medicaid recipients except, children, pregnant women and the disabled. And it’s left a lot of people with only bad options.

Stethoscope
File Photo / KBIA

Nearly all of the weekend nurses working for University of Missouri Health Care have agreed to sharp reductions in incentive pay.

Walmart / Flickr

Summer is coming, and Missourians are hitting the open road, which, after a brutal winter, has taken quite a beating. The Missouri Department of Transportation is looking into making Missouri roads safer, not just by filling in potholes but also widening shoulders on rural roads and expanding Interstate 70 from two lanes to three. That sounds expensive, but the Missouri state legislature has a plan for drumming up close to $800 million a year over the next ten years for Department of Transportation projects – a one percent increase in sales and use tax.

Mammogram
Dreamstime

Missouri lawmakers have given final approval to a bill that would require a notice be provided to women following mammograms.

Rosemary / Flickr

The US Department of Health and Human Services released data Thursday showing that 152,335 Missourians are enrolled in health insurance marketplace plans. The number of enrollees more than doubled in March alone, the total exceeding the federal goal by 29 percent.

Data also showed, however, that 300,000 people in the state are unable to get insurance due to ineligibility for Medicaid or financial help in the marketplace.

stethoscope
Vitualis / Flickr

A new report says more than 150,000 Missouri residents signed up for health insurance policies through a federally run website.

MU Student Parent Center

Naomi Clark, a doctoral candidate in the English department, began taking her children to the Student Parent Center in 2009. Over the past five years, Clark has completed her Master’s degree and will be getting her PhD this semester.

Clark said she would not have completed her degrees without the Student Parent Center and that many of her classmates feel the same way.

“The daycare has been really instrumental in making so many degrees possible, increasing retention and increasing the completion rate,” Clark said.

Pregnant women have heard it time and time again: What you eat during those nine months can have long-term effects on your child's health.

Heck, one study even found that when pregnant women eat a diverse diet, the resulting babies are less picky in the foods they choose.

So what about mom's eating habits before she even knows she's pregnant?

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.

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