HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

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The State of Texas is giving a controversial anti-abortion program a hefty new influx in funding, reports The Texas Tribune.

The program, known as Alternatives to Abortion, will receive $20 million in taxpayer money over the next two years.

For the first time in its annual survey of rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that mortality rates of working-age adults are on the rise because of opioid and heroin overdoses.

Continuing longtime trends, rural areas are still seeing declining populations, the rebound from the Great Recession is slow and poverty remains a persistent problem, according to the USDA’s “Rural America at a Glance,” released Thursday.

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Amarillo College has formed a partnership with Texas Tech University to expand horticultural studies in the Texas Panhandle, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

The top education official in Kansas on Tuesday proposed allowing more schools to hire educators who don’t qualify for teaching licenses under the state’s current system — and signaled he would support changes to state regulations if needed.

Traditionally, most university Spanish degrees have focused on literature and culture. One college in Wichita has changed its Spanish language program to meet a growing demand for interpreters and translators.

When Jerry Smartt was studying for her four Spanish degrees, the focus was on literature and culture.

"I have an entire wall in my office that is nothing but my best friends, which are my books," she says.

Officials with the Kansas Department for Children and Families responded Tuesday to concerns about destroyed evidence in child abuse cases during a legislative task force meeting.

After a Kansas City Star investigation suggested DCF employees had shredded documents regarding children in state care, an agency official told lawmakers that the claims by former DCF deputy director Dianne Keech were inaccurate.

KDOT Warns Drivers About 'Deer Day'

Nov 14, 2017

On average, there are more than 10,000 collisions between cars and deer in Kansas every year. According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, November is peak season for these types of accidents. 

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There’s a growing problem with Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors who take high-priced specialty drugs: there’s no cap on how much they pay.

As The Denver Post reports, each prescription drug plan is structured a little differently, but people with very high drug costs almost inevitably enter what’s called the “catastrophic” phase of coverage. Then, they pay 5 percent of the list price of their drug, which is no small sum in an age of $10,000-a-month cancer drugs

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Gun deaths are on the rise in Oklahoma, reports Oklahoma Watch.

Despite the fact that it's been over three decades since the state has seen a prominent mass shooting, homicides by firearms have been increasing over the past decade.

Oklahoma has the ninth highest rate of per capita gun deaths among. The state now averages four or five murders a week, and more than one suicide per day.

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The rate of people who smoke cigarettes in Amarillo remains higher than the national rate, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The city is home to almost 32,000 smokers, and collectively, they cost the city over $2 million annually.

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Amarillo voters last week approved a massive $100 million bond proposal benefitting the Amarillo Independent School District. In response, AISD officials announced an aggressive construction schedule to spend the money on a wide variety of school repairs and renovations.

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Last week, a bipartisan panel of legislators in Colorado supported a package of six bills aimed at preventing and treating the state’s opioid crisis.

As The Denver Post reports, the approach puts the state in the top tier for its response and has been boosted by a $35 million infusion from the federal government t test solutions to what President Donald Trump has labeled a national public health emergency.

Overnight temperatures have begun to dip near or below freezing. That can mean increased utility bills, and for many low-income families, increased financial pressure as they try to pay them.

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On Tuesday night, the citizens of the state of Maine voted by a wide margin to expand Medicaid coverage in the state. This vote could have repercussions in states like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas that have refused to expand Medicaid.

As NBC News notes, Democrats “are hopeful their victories are a harbinger of further gains . . . with more ballot initiatives [and] legislative efforts to come.” Maine has tried in the past to expand Medicaid through legislative means, but the state’s Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoed five separate attempts to do so.

The childhood poverty rate in Kansas has been decreasing since 2014. But a recently released report from the national KidsCount organization shows that decrease isn’t evenly distributed across the state.

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 December 7.

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Oklahoma teacher Teresa Danks recently made national news when she began panhandling beside the highway to raise money for school supplies.

On average, American teachers spend $500 a year of their own money on school supplies for their students, but that number can be much higher in states like cash-strapped Oklahoma. American teachers are currently eligible for a small tax break of $250, to reimburse themselves.

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Several varieties of medical marijuana, concentrates and edibles were recalled in Colorado last week, over concern they were grown with an unapproved pesticide.

As The Denver Post reports, state marijuana regulators recalled more than 50 varieties of medical marijuana, concentrates and edibles produced by Tree of Wellness in Colorado Springs, after the Colorado Department of Agriculture found the pesticide myclobutanil in product samples.

No one at the hospital in Fulton, Missouri (population 12,790) had ever heard of a management consultant named Jorge Perez until he showed up at its potluck in September.


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West Texas A&M University in Canyon is working on a new campus blueprint, an effort to improve movement and accessibility across the campus.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the $400,000 plan was launched under the direction of new WT president Walter Wendler.

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A charter school association in Oklahoma has brought a lawsuit against the state, in hopes of diverting more revenue away from traditional public schools and into charter school coffers.

As The Tulsa World reports, the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association's lawsuit hopes to do what similar suits in Colorado and Florida have achieved: sharing local tax money equally among district and charter schools.

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Illegal marijuana operations have begun springing up in rural areas of Colorado following increased crackdown in urban areas, so the state is looking to put together a task force within the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for investigating black market marijuana operations.

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Medicaid is failing children with disabilities in Texas, according to The Austin American-Statesman.

Medicaid services in Texas have steadily declined in recent years for children with the most severe disabilities. The decline is due to cost-cutting measures by congressional leaders.

Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of Kansas’ Department for Children and Families, announced Friday that she will retire effective Dec. 1. Friday was also the last day for her top deputy, Chief of Staff Jeff Kahrs, as he departs for a position with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

DCF oversees the state’s privatized foster care system, which has drawn particular scrutiny during Gilmore’s tenure.

Anecdotal evidence from prosecutors across the state indicates opioid abuse is growing in Kansas, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said, but he urged lawmakers not to forget the state’s ongoing methamphetamine problem.

Schmidt answered questions about the issue Thursday from a panel of lawmakers in Topeka.

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If you don’t have health care, this week marked the beginning of the open enrollment period on Healthcare.gov. If you plan to get care on the Healthcare.gov exchanges, you only have until Dec. 15 to find coverage.

When it comes to having a high ratio of doctors to citizens, the State of Texas ranks near the bottom. In fact, as The Dallas Morning News reports, 43 states have a higher proportion of primary care physicians to residents than Texas.

TOPEKA — Daylight Savings Time begins Nov. 5, and as communities prepare to “fall back” one hour, the Office of the Kansas State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is urging residents to practice fire safety by testing their smoke alarms and changing the batteries. Alkaline batteries should be replaced at least once a year, and a good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you change your clocks.

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A panel of bipartisan lawmakers in Colorado are proposing a package of bills aimed at curbing the state’s opioid crisis.

As The Denver Post reports, the panel is proposing limits on some prescriptions and more money for treatment and prevention programs in legislation that represents the state’s most extensive response to a dramatic increase  in drug overdose deaths in recent years.

Kansas lawmakers soon will start work to determine their response to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that found K-12 public school funding unconstitutional.

Republicans and Democrats on a key legislative panel decided the matter is too urgent to wait until the 2018 legislative session starts in January.

They voted Monday to create an 11-member committee that will meet for three days before then. Its task will be to kick-start efforts that must be done by an April 30 deadline.

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