Health and Wealth

Privately run Medicare plans, fresh off a lobbying victory that reversed proposed budget cuts, face new scrutiny from government investigators and whistleblowers who allege that plans have overcharged the government for years.

Mothers Exchanging Breast Milk Online in Columbia

Apr 22, 2015
Micheala Sosby / KBIA

When Sarah Cranston met Danielle Geurts, she had a lot of questions. She wanted to know about Geurts’ caffeine consumption, any medications she took, and her baby’s health. Cranston wanted to be sure Geurts’ breast milk was safe for her own 6-month-old son, Ian.

Cranston and Geurts met on a Facebook page for mothers looking to either donate or receive breast milk.

    

In Drogaria Tefé, a pharmacy in the small city in of Tefé in the Brazilian Amazon, the powerful antibiotic Clindamycin is as easy to access as a chocolate bar. The clerk will sell you either without a prescription. 

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

Lucia Sebastian is the Language Assistant at the Head Start in Noel, Missouri. She works with the numerous immigrant children who have limited English skills and need help to communicate.

She has a four-year old daughter enrolled at Head Start, but she recounted an incident where Head Start was instrumental in helping her older son, Victor.

When her son was eleven years old, he was playing baseball with a friend in the yard and got hit in the mouth with the bat. The blow knocked out several teeth, but Sebastian was unsure she could afford the costs of taking Victor to the hospital.


Gov. Nixon re-launches 100 Missouri Miles Challenge

Apr 16, 2015
Tyler Murry / KBIA

The Missouri Governor renewed his challenge to  Missourians to get outside and stay healthy.

Juhan Sonin / Flickr

Think about the information your doctor’s office or health insurance provider collects about you: your address, birthday and social security number. But they also have your medical history, current conditions and information about your insurance policy connected to your file.

 

All of this information is incredibly personal and to a hacker, it's incredibly valuable.

 


This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

In February, Medicare announced that it would pay for an annual lung cancer screening test for certain long-term smokers. Medicare recipients between the ages of 55 and 77 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years are now eligible for the annual test, known as a spiral CT scan.

Grant Gerlock

Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she’s charted some 10,000 miles travelling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

“Radiation treatments usually (take) only about 5 minutes (on) a day that they have to see you,” Dethlefs said. “But for a week, for seven weeks in a row, you’re driving every single day to the cancer treatment center. We’re about an hour away from cancer centers.”

 


j. stephenconn / Flickr

Some mental health providers in rural Missouri are raising concerns about a provision passed by the Missouri Senate that would shift about 200,000 Medicaid recipients onto privatized managed care programs.

Loretta Fuge is a psychologist based in Mansfield, Mo. Currently, Fuge is reimbursed for seeing Medicaid patients through the state’s fee-for-service model. She has some experience with managed care and, she says, she isn’t a fan.

Jack Howard/KBIA

After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, electronic health records were put into effect in 2012 and were intended to reduce paperwork and increase the quality of care.

 

But when it came to nursing homes, the New York Times reported in August 2014 that staffing records used to rate nursing homes were mostly self-reported and possibly skewed. According to federal documents, a series of improvements including a more regulated, electronic system of staff recording, similar to that adopted under the ACA, were proposed to improve the care for nursing home patients.

 


By law, many U.S. insurance providers that offer mental health care are required to cover it just as they would cancer or diabetes care. But advocates say achieving this mental health parity can be a challenge.

Shelter Insurance will donate $450,000 to a project to build an apartment complex and temporary homeless shelter for veterans in Columbia called Patriot Place.  

The plan is to renovate the former Deluxe Inn on Business Loop 70 East into a campus with 25 on-site apartments and a temporary homeless shelter. There will also be space for case management and support services.

To survive, we humans need to be able to do a handful of things: breathe, of course. And drink and eat. Those are obvious.

We're going to focus now on a less obvious — but no less vital — human function: learning. Because new research out today in the journal Science sheds light on the very building blocks of learning.

Hidden inside all of us are likely thousands of viruses — maybe more. They just hang out, harmlessly. We don't even know they're there.

But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.

Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday. In mice, the virus directly stops influenza itself.

DVIDSHUB / flickr

Last week, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences announced it will open a medical school in Joplin, the first new medical school in Missouri in more than 40 years. The school is expecting to matriculate 150 students in its first class in 2017, and between 150 and 160 students in each subsequent year. KBIA’s Bram Sable-Smith spoke with Dr. Marc Hahn, president and CEO of the university, about the needs the new school will be filling for that region of the state. 


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

Anthony Smith has a spiel he will deliver many, many times today.

“I’m Anthony Smith with the Family Counseling Center," he says, "and today is identified as the 'point-in-time count' for the state of Missouri. The governor’s office does this annually. We try to conduct a winter count to identify individuals who are homeless, or at risk of being homeless in our community.”


Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

It’s a cold afternoon in Kennett, Mo. The lawns in this low-income housing neighborhood are still wet from yesterday’s rain. And just inside the door of her mother’s brick home, 27-year-old Marylouisa Cantu sits on a couch, pregnant and draped in a blanket.

Her mother beckons, through the storm door.

“Come in, come in.”


Hope Kirwan / KBIA

Representative Jay Barnes of Jefferson City is sponsoring a bill this legislative session that would help develop health clinics at underserved Missouri schools.

House Bill 320 is still in committee, but this is the second year that Valley Middle School in House Springs, Mo. has served students in their in-school health clinic


St. Louis-based Monsanto lined up its experts for a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, to challenge last week’s determination by a World Health Organization committee that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weed killer could be dangerous to people with frequent exposure. 

Bram Sable-Smith / KBIA

This story is part of our series "Shortage in Rich Land" on Missouri's Bootheel region. Click here to see all of the stories.

It’s early morning. The sun is shining brightly on the corrugated metal siding of the Otto Bean Medical Center in Kennett, Mo., and inside the building, Judith Haggard is pricking the soles of her patient’s feet with a pin.

Otto Bean is part of the SEMO Health Network, a Federally Qualified Health Center which operates several clinics across southeast Missouri.

Haggard is a nurse practitioner and one of the ranking medical providers here at the clinic, which has no full-time doctor. She has just 15 minutes to spend with her patient, a 71-year-old diabetic on Medicaid.


A team of 17 cancer experts assembled by the World Health Organization has ruled the most commonly used herbicide a “probable carcinogen.”

There's a researcher at the RAND Corporation who has been building a reputation as a curmudgeonly skeptic when it comes to trendy ways to fight America's obesity epidemic.

The Columbia Housing Authority board held a meeting Tuesday night and unanimously voted to ban smoking inside their units. 

Many scientists are failing to live up to a 2007 law that requires them to report the results of their clinical trials to a public website, according to a study in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

A Growing Number of Births Happen Outside Hospitals

Mar 11, 2015
PEASAP / FLICKR

A growing number of births in the United States are happening outside of hospitals, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reported two percent of births in Missouri took place in homes, birth centers, and in family practices in 2013. The number of out-of-hospital births has been on the rise since 2006 in Missouri because it’s becoming an attractive alternative for some families.


Kyle Norris

A popular New Year’s resolution for many people is to get in better shape by exercising and eating healthier. At the Boonslick Heartland YMCA, Assistant Director Vanessa Dorman wanted to bring those looking to lose weight together.

“I can’t tell you how I thought of it,” Dorman said. “But people are always concerned about their fitness in January, so I decided to make a program to make it official.”


With yet another do-or-die test of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices were sharply divided.

By the end of the argument, it was clear that the outcome will be determined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The chief justice said almost nothing during the argument, and Kennedy sent mixed signals, seeming to give a slight edge to the administration's interpretation of the law.

Judging by the comments from the remaining justices, the challengers would need the votes of both Roberts and Kennedy to win.

If you’re in the market for fluorescent light bulbs, you might talk to Chris Smiley. In the past few weeks, she’s been trying to sell off what’s left of Sac-Osage Hospital.

“Casework, lighting, plumping, sinks, toilets. Anything you want,” Smiley says.

That’s not in her job description. She’s actually the CEO of Sac-Osage, a hospital in Osceola, Mo., that closed in September.

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