You have probably heard the statistic: Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation – just 17 cents a pack, compared to the national average of $1.46. In this week's Health & Wealth update, public health advocates want to raise Missouri's tobacco tax to deter people from smoking, and to help offset the costs that tobacco incurs.
Debate continues in the Missouri legislature over the Obama administration's "contraception mandate," which will require health insurance to include coverage for birth control. In this week's Health & Wealth update, a House committee hears testimony on a largely symbolic bill, opposing the mandate.
According to the latest estimate from the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children in the United States has autism, almost double the rate ten years ago. In this week's Health & Wealth update, while more children are being diagnosed with the disorder, more parents are getting the help they need to treat it.
Health care reform is in the cross-hairs at the U.S. Supreme Court this week. In this Health & Wealth update, as the nine justices hear oral arguments on Obama's 2010 health reform, implementation of some aspects of the law are on hold in Missouri.
Sixty-two percent of working-age women have jobs, but they still earn just 74 cents on the dollar, compared to men. But that disparity varies by region; in some rural counties, women earn fully half what men do. In this week's Health & Wealth update, a new report on how women in Missouri are faring in health, work, education, and civic engagement. With a state legislature that's three-quarters men, will lawmakers do anything about the disparities?
Governor Jay Nixon told reporters yesterday that lawmakers in Jefferson City are trying to balance the state budget on the backs of some of the state's neediest: poor blind people. But members of the House budget committee said cuts to health care for blind Missourians are necessary to pay for higher education, which the governor wants to trim.
Everyone knows exercise helps you lose weight, build up muscles, and fit in the swimsuit next summer. But why, exactly, does it lower your risk of diabetes? In this Health & Wealth update, MU researchers look into the relationship between inactivity and spikes in blood sugar that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In 1995, Rick Stream's 18-year-old daughter died in bed. For several years she'd been struggling with bulimia and that night her heart finally heart stopped beating, weakened from low potassium levels. Now, Stream is a state representative, and he's sponsoring a bill in the Missouri House that would require health insurance companies to cover treatment for eating disorders -- treatment he says could have saved his daughter's life if his insurance had paid for it.
The average medical school student graduates with close to $160,000 in debt. That heavy burden is one reason why there is a long-running shortage of primary care doctors in rural America. More and more graduating students choose higher-paying specialties over rural primary care. In this weekly update, a new pilot program helps medical students pay off loans as soon as they start residency, so it's easier to choose a lower-paying, but possibly more fulfilling career path.
Today the U.S. House of Representatives is debating a Republican-backed transportation bill, which would authorize $260 billion for the next five years. More money would go to highways, but at the expense of stable funding for public transportation, and the elimination of pedestrian and cycling programs. In this Health & Wealth update, among the proposed cuts is a pilot project in Columbia that's responsible for many of the new bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks around town.
Rick Santorum trounced Mitt Romney yesterday in Missouri's "beauty contest" presidential primary. The state's delegates won't be chosen until caucuses on March 17, but the vote added to Santorum's momentum as he also swept Minnesota and Colorado. In this week's Health & Wealth update, how conservative opposition to Obama's Affordable Care Act may have helped Santorum in the Show-Me State.
Following up on President Obama's State of the Union address last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is touring the country, touting his boss's job-creation efforts in rural America -- Missouri was his latest stop. In this week's Health & Wealth update, a conversation with Secretary Vilsack: we talk rural jobs, USDA office closures, and the fate of the farmer's safety net in the face of natural disasters and shrinking budgets.
In all the political coverage lately, you may have missed Missouri House Bill 1063: it would make "the exercise commonly known and referred to as 'jumping jacks'" the official exercise of the state of Missouri. In this week's Health & Wealth update, could getting more kids jumping help reduce childhood obesity?
Last session, Republicans in the Missouri Senate blocked the creation of a state-run health insurance exchange. The online insurance marketplace is required under Obama's health reform law, but has become a political football in states like Missouri, with a Republican-controlled legislature. In this week's Health & Wealth update, Republican senators move to put one more roadblock on the path to a state exchange.
Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation -- at 21 percent, it's double the rate in states like Utah and California. But some segments of the population smoke even more. In this week's Health & Wealth update, I talk with MU researchers who have found that the smoking rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Missourians is much higher than in the population at large.