Science and Technology

Part 4 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

Jeani Thomson has been pleading with New York state officials for more than 30 years to protect her neighborhood from the foul-smelling "blue fog" that settles in her yard. She has long suspected the source is an industrial facility about a mile from her house called Tonawanda Coke.

Part three of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities.

The smokestack stands more than nine stories above the southeastern Kansas prairie and the small city of Chanute, and it's bright, white flashing lights are like a beacon in the night sky.

Audrain Voters Plump for Public Health

Nov 9, 2011
Garrett Bergquist / KBIA

Missouri is ranked 50th among the states in funding for public health, spending about one third of the national average. Audrain County spends even less, just $7.90 per person. In this weekly Health & Wealth update, voters in Audrain went to the polls yesterday and approved a new property tax that will keep the county's struggling health department afloat. I spoke with reporter Garrett Bergquist, who has been driving around Audrain talking to voters.

Part 1 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

The system Congress set up 21 years ago to clean up toxic air pollution still leaves many communities exposed to risky concentrations of benzene, formaldehyde, mercury and many other hazardous chemicals.

Oklahoma Town Battles Powdery Carbon Pollution

Nov 7, 2011

Part 2 of a four-part series, Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities

Karen Howe couldn't believe her luck. As a single mom working a minimum-wage job and living with two kids in a crowded one-bedroom apartment in Ponca City, Okla., she was desperate for a three-bedroom house and a lawn.

Howe, a member of the Ponca tribe, was offered tribal housing in a small, tree-lined subdivision of 11 homes on the southern, rural edge of the city.

Political Points vs. Sound Policy?

Nov 4, 2011
governor.ks.gov

Republican lawmakers in red states are in a pickle. The Affordable Care Act requires each state to set up a health care exchange designed to bring down insurance costs for consumers. Republicans want no part of anything related to Obama's health care reform law, which they see as a federal intrusion on states rights. But if state lawmakers don't set up an exchange, the federal government will. In September, Republican senators in Missouri prevented the state from accepting $21 million of federal money to lay the groundwork for an exchange. Next door, the Sunflower State is in a similar quandary, reports Bryan Thompson of Kansas Public Radio.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization warned in August about “a possible major resurgence” of the bird flu because a mutant form of the virus was recently found in Vietnam and Cambodia. Other flu viruses, including strains of swine flu, are occasionally resurfacing in different parts of the world.

Camille Phillips / KBIA

This week on the show: do you know what's living in your firewood? Plus, new cultivars could change Missouri's wine industry.

Full Interview with Lt. Governor Kinder

Nov 3, 2011
TeamKinder

Lt. Governor Peter Kinder takes aim at "Obamacare," and Democratic rivals. We discuss his legal challenge to what he calls "the federal health control law," and why he thinks his lawsuit will likely end up before the Supreme Court. We also cover some political turf: Kinder compares his style of leadership with that of Governor Jay Nixon. Missourians, says Kinder, "want a fighter, not someone who will lie down and just take dictation from our federal masters."

Health Reform Moves Toward the Supreme Court

Nov 2, 2011
ltgov.mo.gov

Missourians have never been in love with health reform. A year ago, Missouri was the first to pass a state law prohibiting an individual insurance mandate. It was a largely symbolic rejection of the Affordable Care Act, but now, more serious obstacles are looming. Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder is one of dozens of officials from around the country challenging "Obamacare" in the courts.

In this weekly Health & Wealth update, the Affordable Care Act moves toward the U.S. Supreme Court. 

A few months ago, Kansas seemed ahead of the game in preparing for an important requirement of the federal health law. The state had started to plan for exchanges — online marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses compare and buy health insurance.

But politics is intervening.

MU’s School of Medicine has received a $5.3 million grant to research the effectiveness of current military medical training methods.

Microbe World / Flickr

Missouri authorities are investigating an E. coli outbreak that has led to nine hospitalizations and 33 confirmed ill.

KBIA

Community leaders hosted a statewide video conference Saturday to discuss the impact of the ongoing cuts and consolidations to Missouri’s social services.

Paying for Quality, Not Quantity

Oct 28, 2011
futurestrategies.org

In the United States, we pay a lot more for our health care than other wealthy countries, but we are no healthier.  Missourians actually pay even more per capita than the U.S. average, and are even less healthy. (Missouri is ranked 39th in the nation in overall health, and we are the 9th most obese state.) A big part of the problem is the way we pay for health care, according to Harold Miller, executive director of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform.

Billy Idle / Flickr

This week on the show: kids are spending more time in front of digital screens. Plus, the aurora borealis shows itself in the Missouri sky.

States to Pick Up Medicaid Costs

Oct 27, 2011
kff.org

During the Great Recession, as the ranks of poor and unemployed swelled, enrollment in Medicaid shot up, growing by 7.8 percent in 2009. At the same time, state tax revenues collapsed by nearly 17 percent. States couldn't afford to pay their share of Medicaid costs, and Congress came to the rescue with the Recovery Act, boosting federal Medicaid funding by around $103 billion. But the recovery dollars ran out in June, and now states are facing the biggest yearly increase in Medicaid costs in history, according to projections by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Missouri already spends over a quarter of the state budget on Medicaid.

New Providers Could Fill Gap in Rural Dental Care

Oct 27, 2011
kansasdental.com

Able to clean teeth, like a hygienist, but also fill cavities like a dentist. If you've never heard of a registered dental practitioner, it's probably because they are only legal in two states, Alaska and Minnesota. Like nurse practitioners, these mid-level providers are aimed at helping underserved rural areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is helping design a new community college in Hannibal that would serve as more than just a place to take class.

Report Says Health Reform Will Provide Financial Boost

Oct 26, 2011
Affordable Care Act
whitehouse.gov / whitehouse.gov

In 2019, the average Missouri family will be $1,471 richer. That’s how much the average family will save on health care each year once Obama’s reform law takes full effect, according to a new study by Families USA, a pro-reform group. 

MoDOT Rail Plan Up for Public Comment

Oct 26, 2011

MoDOT officials are meeting with community leaders and people from several mid-Missouri communities to get public input on the state’s freight and passenger rail plan.

Despite claims to the contrary, a insightful economic analysis suggests that it wouldn't be in most employers' business interests to stop providing health insurance when the main coverage provisions of the federal health overhaul kick in.

Missouri's Rural Doctor Shortage

Oct 24, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

There’s a doctor shortage in rural America. This is not news – just the opposite – it’s been going on for ages. Even old Doc Adams, the country doctor in “Gunsmoke,” was constantly overworked. In one episode, when he finally gets a vacation, he’s kidnapped by outlaws in need of his services. Present-day Missouri ain’t Dodge City, Kansas. But many rural doctors are still overstretched. 

Local residents and businesses in rural Missouri are preparing to get updated internet technology.

Missouri Is First in Line for New Medicaid Money

Oct 21, 2011
Missouri Department of Mental Health

For people with chronic conditions, getting Medicaid services can be a confusing, disjointed experience, shuffling from provider to provider. Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, states can apply for federal money to help coordinate that care. Missouri did just that, and the news came today that the state will be the first to get this kind of funding under the ACA. Missouri’s application was aimed at helping people with chronic mental health issues. 

Amber Luckey / Flickr

Another case of Listeria tainted cantaloupe has been identified in northwest Missouri.

Hosted by Kyle Deas.

Chronic medical conditions are a huge problem for the homeless, unemployed, or uninsured. In an effort to address this problem, a group of University of Missouri medical students founded MedZou, a student staffed and managed medical clinic that provides free medical care to the uninsured. Though the clinic is a little ad-hoc – it sees patients in a donated meeting area a few nights a month – it provides the students with valuable practice and the patients with potentially life-changing care. KBIA’s Jessica Pupovac has this story.

Officials said a change in dispatching procedure in Camden County will cut down emergency response times.

Must Watch Video: Quantum Levitation

Oct 18, 2011

This is coolest thing we've seen in a long time:

The video was posted to YouTube two days ago by the Association of Science-Technology Centers and has already garnered 641,230 views. But what is going on here? It's quantum levitation, dude!

Reporter's Notebook: Running in Joplin

Oct 14, 2011
Jacob Fenston / KBIA

I ran a marathon in Joplin last weekend – the second annual “Mother Road Marathon,” along Route 66. It was hot, there was a head wind, and it was a long slow day. My time was exactly one hour longer than my first marathon six months ago. I didn’t have a good excuse for my slowness – I’ve just been lazy about training. But for locals in Joplin, training for this race was truly challenging. 

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