Science and Technology

Under the Microscope
5:06 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Agricultural groups concerned about toxic grass; food hubs try to grow local farms

Rancher Roger Zimmershied poses with some of his cattle on his ranch just south of Sweet Springs, Mo. Zimmershied recently switched from Kentucky 31 tall fescue to MaxQ tall fescue in two of his pastures.
Credit Jake Godin for Harvest Public Media

On this week's show, we'll hear why a popular grass for feeding cattle may be doing more harm than good, and learn about the popularity of food hubs.
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Science, Health and Technology
4:23 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

New bill requires health insurance counselors be licensed

Missouri State Capitol
Credit File / KBIA

 Governor Jay Nixon signed a bill that now requires insurance counselors or navigators to be licensed by the state.

The counselors are required to get the license in order to help consumers search for their insurance options on an online marketplace called a health insurance exchange. The exchanges are set to start on October 1st  of this year as part of the Affordable Care Act.  

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Science, Health and Technology
2:54 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

MU Health Care named one of the 'Most Wired' hospitals in the nation

Credit KBIA file photo

  For the third year in a row, the American Hospital Association has named MU Health Care as one of the “Most Wired” hospitals in the country.

The recognition is given to hospitals that work to adopt the newest health-care information technology. Spokesperson Bryan Bliven says as the technology continues to evolve, the benchmarks of the Most Wired list changes every year.

“The gait is always rising,” Bliven says. “It’s very good to keep the designation and it’s a challenge each year and we’re really happy to meet it for the third year in a row.”

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Science, Health and Technology
5:18 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

MU to host international conference on nuclear fusion

University of Missouri
Credit Adam Procter / flickr

 

The University of Missouri is hosting an upcoming international conference on low-energy nuclear reactions.

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Science, Health and Technology
5:12 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

New law allows physician assistants more freedom

A physician assistant examines a patient.
Credit US Navy/Wikimedia / Creative Commons

A law that takes effect Aug. 28 will give physicians assistants more freedom to provide care in areas of Missouri with a shortage of doctors.

Currently, physician assistants must be supervised by a doctor located within 30 miles of where they practice. And a doctor must be present 66 percent of the time they are caring for patients.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the new law will allow the supervising doctor to be up to 50 miles away. The doctors also will have to spend only half of a day on site for every 14 days the physician assistant practices.

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Science, Health and Technology
5:03 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Missouri, Kansas see increase in drowning deaths

Missouri River.
Credit KBIA

Drowning deaths have risen dramatically in both Missouri and Kansas this year.

State officials say that before this weekend, 24 drownings had been reported this year in Missouri, four more than all of last year. And in Kansas, 12 drownings had been reported before this weekend, double the average for an entire year.

The Kansas City Star reports officials in both states say the pleasant summer weather likely has contributed to the increase, with more people venturing out to the states' waterways.

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Under the Microscope
11:59 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Insurance industry 'whistleblower' talks health care reform

Credit Alan Cleaver / flickr

Listen to KBIA's Harum Helmy chat with insurance industry 'whistleblower' Wendell Potter on Under the Microscope.

For about two decades, Wendell Potter spun carefully crafted public relations messages for Humana and Cigna, the insurance companies where he worked. He recalls convincing consumers that high-deductible insurance plans would be good for everyone; telling them that by paying more, they’d have more skin in the game of their own health.

“I frankly just got so disillusioned and, ultimately, disgusted with what I was doing,” Potter said.

He said through his own research, he knew high-deductible plans were not the best insurance coverage for those with middle-class income.

“The median household income in this country is just barely $50,000,” Potter said. “A family that’s earning $50,000, if they’re in a plan with a high deductible, they face bankruptcy or foreclosure [if something happens]. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have lost their homes and have to declare bankruptcy because they have been in these kinds of plans. They think they have adequate coverage and they don’t.”

In 2008, Potter left the insurance industry and became a consumer advocate. He testified in Congress against high-deductible plans. In 2010, he published a book detailing the ways public-relations practices of the insurance industry affect American health care. 

Now, Potter writes columns and travels around the country to debunk what he calls are “myths” about the Affordable Care Act. The law imposes stricter rules on insurance companies. They can no longer refuse coverage for consumers who have a pre-existing condition, for example. Companies also have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar of a consumer's premium for patient care and quality improvements, not profits or administrative costs. 

On a recent visit to Columbia, Potter sat down with KBIA's Harum Helmy to chat about health care reform and the insurance industry's response to it. 

Listen to a longer version of the interview.

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Science, Health and Technology
7:24 am
Mon July 15, 2013

MU engineers developing low-cost toilet

Credit loop_oh / Flickr

  Some MU engineers are teaming up with colleagues at Duke University to develop a low-cost toilet for developing countries with water shortages.

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Science, Health and Technology
4:46 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Mo. energy-efficiency program tops $100 million in loans

Credit File Photo / KBIA

A Missouri program that is now entering its 25th year has provided more than $100 million in loans for energy efficiency projects around the state.

This Department of Natural Resources program helps finance energy-saving measures such as improved insulation, windows, lighting and heating and cooling systems. The loans are available to public schools and colleges, local governments, water and sewage treatment facilities and some hospitals.

The department says $102.7 million in low-interest loans has been awarded through the fund since its creation in 1989.

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Science, Health and Technology
3:48 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

USGS Takes To The Sky To Learn More About What's Beneath The New Madrid Seismic Zone

Credit United States Geological Survey

The United States Geological Survey, or USGS, is taking to the sky this week with a low-flying airplane that will map the subsurface of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The plane will collect aeromagnetic data in Missouri’s Bootheel and small slivers of northeastern Arkansas and northwest Tennessee.

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Health & Wealth Update
1:26 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Bill on Nixon's desk could add barrier in enrolling Missourians in ACA marketplace

Credit pinprick / FLICKR

 Update: Gov. Jay Nixon signed SB 262 into law on Friday, July 12. 

A bill that was pushed by the state's insurance agents association could create a barrier in getting Missourians enrolled in time for the new online health insurance marketplace  one of the key parts of the health care reform law.

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Science, Health and Technology
8:27 am
Wed July 10, 2013

“Sahara’s Law” creates income-tax checkbox for pediatric cancer research

Sahara Aldridge
Credit saharaaldridge.blogspot.com

A new Missouri law creates a checkbox on Missouri income tax forms that allows taxpayers to contribute a minimum of $1 of their tax return to fund pediatric cancer research.

“Sahara’s Law” was introduced by Cape Girardeau Republican Senator Wayne Wallingford, and it’s named after Sahara Aldridge. 

“She was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and she fought that battle for 17 months, going through chemotherapy and radiation and even some alternate treatments,” Wallingford said. “But sadly she passed away when she was 13.”

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Science, Health and Technology
7:24 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Mizzou finishes first smoke-free week

The University of Missouri in Columbia has wrapped up its first week as a smoke-free campus.

The ban on smoking, which took full effect on July 1, had been in the works since 2009 when Chancellor Brady Deaton announced a plan to become a smoke-free campus within five years.

As part of the transition, the school began allowing smoking only in designated areas in 2011. The Smoke-Free Mizzou website says the move was meant to give smokers time to quit or "make necessary adjustment to their smoking patterns."

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Science, Health and Technology
11:31 am
Tue July 2, 2013

Boone Hospital announces new president

Jim Sinek will start as Boone Hospital president on August 12.
Credit Courtesy of Boone Hospital Center

BJC HealthCare has named Jim Sinek, a long-time hospital executive, as Boone Hospital’s new president. Sinek has served as a hospital CEO for about 14 years. He comes to Columbia from Faith Regional Health Services, a 200-bed facility in Norfolk, Neb., two hours northeast of Omaha.

At Faith Regional, Sinek recently oversaw the addition of a new 5-story patient tower and the implementation of an electronic medical records system. Boone Hospital's Vice President of Human Resources Michelle Zvanut said those experiences made Sinek stand out in the pool of applicants.

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Science, Health and Technology
4:21 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Mo. awards contract for online Medicaid enrollment

Credit Tax Credits / Flickr

People enrolling in Missouri's Medicaid health care program soon could do so online instead of through paper applications.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the state has awarded a $147 million contract to a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,-based company called EngagePoint to set up the new system. About 90 percent of the money is coming from the federal government.

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