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Kansas City Group Aims To Lower Infant Mortality By Supporting Black Mothers

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes and the rate of infant mortality for black infants is almost double that of white infants . An organization in Kansas City is trying to turn those numbers around. Kimberly Hardeman is a recent UMKC law school grad. She’s black and pregnant with her fourth child. Shortly after the vaginal delivery of her second child at a Kansas...


Kansas City Scientists Capture Single Cells That Drive Flatworm’s ‘Witchcraft’-Like Regeneration

In a famous segment from Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia,” Mickey Mouse is a sorcerer’s apprentice tormented by a broom that he brings to life to help with his chores. At one point, Mickey completely loses it, grabs an ax and savagely chops the cheery, bouncing broom into splinters. But the story doesn’t end there. As Mickey walks away, the splinters begin to wiggle and regrow, until each one become a new broom. Researcher Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado specializes in studying a real-life...


Amid Branson’s Biggest Tourism Boom Ever, Homelessness Among Workers Surges

If you can imagine Las Vegas, a county fair and the TV show Hee Haw mashed up and spread out along an old Ozark highway, then you’ll have an idea of what the main strip of Branson in southern Missouri looks like. Miles and miles of all the miniature golf, bumper cars, fudge shops, custard stands and music theaters that a vacationing family could hope for. Shannon works as a waitress in one of those places – a Branson restaurant – and says she loves being part of the action. “I love to hear...


New Tests Could Detect Alzheimer’s Years Before Symptoms, But Why Find Out When There's No Cure?

Medical researchers have made giant leaps in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, which could make it possible to detect the illness long before memory and cognitive problems show up. There is no cure for the fatal, degenerative disease, and it remains one of the diagnoses most feared by patients. But researchers and patient advocates say it’s still worth facing their fears and getting tested.


Locked Up And Untreated: One Missouri Inmate’s Quest For Hepatitis C Treatment

Joe Watson has lived a troubled life. He had a traumatic childhood, spent years addicted to cocaine and meth and is now serving a 20 year sentence in the Jefferson City Correction Center for second degree murder. But the 47-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native was shaken to his core by the death of his friend and fellow inmate Stevie Jimerson from hepatitis C early last year. “When I seen them allow Stevie Jimerson to die when he was begging them for treatment, I knew that if I was going...


Missouri State Auditor Faces Lawsuit As Battle For Control Of Tiny Rural Hospital Escalates

A battle royale has erupted in tiny Unionville, Missouri, over the town’s endangered community hospital. Trustees of Putnam County Memorial Hospital in the north central community are trying to get rid of the company that took over the ailing institution in 2016 and then ran more than $90 million in questionable lab billings through the hospital. The move has triggered a lawsuit by the company, Hospital Partners Inc., which claims it was illegally booted out and is seeking $2 million in...


Kansas City Judge Finds VA's Negligence Led To Iraq Veteran's Suicide

After a seven-month deployment in 2004 in Iraq as a squad leader and gunner, Cpl. William P. Draughon received a citation for heroic service and was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. Several members of his squad were killed in Iraq, and when he returned stateside, the North Kansas City High School graduate began experiencing depression and nightmares and became withdrawn and moody. He also started drinking heavily. His friends and family described him as a changed man. “Before he...


Kansas City Researcher Asks: Does Insulin Lose Quality On Its Way To Patients?

Alan Carter didn’t start his recent research with any deep doubts about the insulin that people buy in pharmacies. He just wanted to find out how different kinds of insulin compared. “We thought, well, if we can figure out if there’s very subtle differences between the two manufacturing processes, then maybe we can help determine if there is a significant issue for patients who switch back and forth because of insurance formulary restrictions and costs,” Carter says. Daily insulin...


Encouraged By Trump Administration, Missouri Lawmaker Seeks More State Control Over Medicaid

Missouri’s general revenue spending on Medicaid has topped more than 2 billion dollars annually in recent years and its costs are rising. That’s a problem for Republican State Sen. David Sater of Springfield. “It continues to be the biggest inflation that we have in state programs, and we have to do something,” Sater says. The Springfield lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would require Missouri to seek permission from the federal government to get what’s called a global waiver, basically...


She Struggled Against Cancer, And To Get Insurance — Now She's Pushing For Kansas Medicaid Expansion

Amy Houston got the bad news — a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma — in 2009. She started working 10-hour days in her corporate job to get Fridays off for chemotherapy. But that schedule no longer worked when the time came for daily radiation treatments. “I lost my job and therefore lost my medical insurance,” Houston said.


Leading Health Reporter Warns Kansas City: Medicare About 'To Smack Us In The Face'

Longtime health reporter Julie Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News , a nonprofit news service providing in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics. Before joining KHN, Rovner was a health reporter for 16 years at NPR , where she helped lead coverage of the enactment and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Rovner was in Kansas City last week to participate in a panel discussion presented by American Public Square , a Kansas City-based nonprofit...


Why Are Death Rates Rising Among White Rural Missourians?

In the last few decades, rates of premature death have been decreasing throughout the industrialized world largely because of improvements in public health. But there’s a striking exception. Young adult and middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the rural United States have been dying in increasing numbers since 2000. The trend drew headlines in 2015 when Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton released an eye-opening report finding that increases in suicides and drug overdoses had...


Assailed And Besieged, A Year Into Trump The Affordable Care Act Still Offers Lifeline To Many

Entrepreneurs Keely Edgington and Beau Williams, owners of a Westport bar called Julep, say that the Affordable Care Act has been an easy, inexpensive way for them to get health insurance. Having insurance has been critical for the married couple. Their daughter Lula was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 when she was nine months old. Even with insurance, the family needed help from friends and family to pay her medical costs. Shortly after the 2016 election, Edgington said she was terrified by...


KU Economist Says Uber May Be Driving Down Use Of Costly Ambulances

Ambulances are often considered a prime example of the excessively high cost of medical care in the United States. One ride can cost more than a trip from Kansas City to Hawaii. But David Slusky, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas, thinks he may have found something surprising that’s reducing ambulance use: the ride-hailing company Uber.


Missouri And Other States Face Potentially Costly Dilemma Over Treating Inmates With Hep C

In a corner of her house in Sparta in southwest Missouri, Jymie Jimerson has set up a kind of shrine. It has Native American art representing her Cherokee heritage alongside Willie Nelson albums, books and photos in remembrance of her late husband. In the center is a copy of Willie’s mid-’70s LP, “Red Headed Stranger.” “When Steve was young, he had red hair and a red beard, so he always really identified with Willie’s Red Headed Stranger,” Jimerson says. “I try to keep it up there as a...


Amid Opioid Crisis, Some Doctors Offer Another Strategy To Deal With Chronic Pain

A few years ago, Renea Molden’s doctors told her they wanted to take her off hydrocodone pills. “I was mad,” Molden says. “I’ll be honest. I was mad. I was frustrated.” The 39-year-old woman from Kansas City struggles with pain caused by fibromyalgia, herniated spinal discs and degenerative disc disease. She says the three opioid pills a day that doctors wanted her to stop taking seemed to be the only way she could make it through work, go shopping or even fix dinner.


KanCare Concerns A Challenge For Officials Seeking To Renew Privatized Medicaid Plan

Kansas officials seeking to renew KanCare are asking people covered by the privatized Medicaid program to trust them to make it better. In a series of recent public hearings, state officials have assured providers and beneficiaries that KanCare 2.0 will fix the administrative and service-delivery problems that have plagued the current program since its inception. Dynel Wood isn’t convinced. She runs a small Johnson County company that provides support services for Kansans with...


Federal Medicare Head Says Action Is Needed To Ensure Program’s Financial Future

President Trump has pledged to not make cuts to Medicare, the federal insurance program for seniors, but Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, acknowledges that changes are needed. One of the program’s main funds, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, is expected to be depleted in 11 years. On Monday, Verma was in Olathe, Kansas to talk with seniors about Medicare and encourage them to take part in Medicare open enrollment, which runs from October 15 through...


In States Like Missouri And Kansas That Didn’t Expand Medicaid, Residents Carry Higher Medical Debt

Geneva Wilson has struggled her entire life with health problems, including a blood disorder, depression and a painful misalignment of the hip joint called hip dysplasia. But she’s found peace living in a small cabin in the woods of western Missouri. Wilson keeps chickens, raises rabbits and has a garden. She says her long-term goal is to live off her land by selling what she raises at farmers’ markets. Her health has made it hard to keep a job and obtain the insurance that typically comes...


Southeast Kansas County Among Eight U.S. Communities Awarded Culture Of Health Prize

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19. Residents of Allen County in Kansas are getting some national recognition for their health-improvement efforts. The county is one of eight 2017 winners of the Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest public health philanthropy. Richard Besser, the foundation’s president and CEO, traveled to Iola, the county seat, to make the announcement in person Tuesday. “When we talked as a...