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

Physicians, researchers and hospitals broadly agree that cesarean sections have become too common. That’s powered efforts to limit them to ever fewer cases.

Still, it can be hard to gauge the track record of most Kansas hospitals. When a national group came asking for numbers that reveal how regularly C-sections are performed, many hospitals in the state didn’t reply.

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A proposed policy change by the largest insurer in Texas has been put on hold after a big backlash from doctors across the state.

As Houston Public Media reports, Blue Cross Blue Shield had planned to enact a new policy wherein each of the company’s half-a-million statewide HMO members would have to shoulder the full cost of a non-life threatening ER visit if they went out of network.

MC2 Sean Hurt / Wikimedia Commons

Fewer Texans are reporting domestic violence, and police say the drop is a result of immigrant fears of deportation.

As The New York Times reports, many Texas women who are beaten or raped by their partners fail to report the crimes, choosing to go into hiding rather than appear in court and risk being separated from their children.

Gov. Jeff Colyer is scheduled to sign an executive order on Friday night that will lead to the development of a state dementia plan.

Kansas is the only state without a plan. Advocates have been in contact with Colyer since July about forming a task force and putting a plan together.

The Kansas child welfare agency is splitting foster care from family preservation services.

The Department for Children and Families put out its call for separate grantees Thursday.

The state’s two current contractors — KVC Kansas in the Kansas City metro and eastern region, and St. Francis Community Services in Wichita and the western region — have been managing foster care and services aimed at keeping struggling families together.

The company that processes applications for Kansas’ privatized KanCare Medicaid program faces potentially steep fines if it doesn’t fix problems, responsible for massive backlogs, by the end of this week.

Maximus, a Maryland-based company that specializes in managing “human service programs” for states and the federal government, has operated the “KanCare Clearinghouse” since 2016.

There have been problems from the start.

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In a unanimous vote, the Amarillo City Council has now approved plans for a proposed Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.

As the Amarillo Globe-News reports, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation has pledged to give almost $70 million toward the completion of the $90 million project.

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It appears that the Texas foster care system still needs a good deal of work, despite a federal order to overhaul the system.

As The Austin American-Statesman reports, last month 50 foster children were forced to sleep in Child Protective Services offices for at least two consecutive nights as they awaited placement.

Kansas universities had about 800 more students enrolled this spring than they did last year, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

That’s about a half percent more — essentially flat. But flat is better than the national figure, which saw enrollment across the United States drop about 1.3 percent, or about 231,000 fewer students.

Public health experts in Texas are concerned that a growing number of American children are forgoing services like Medicaid and food stamps because their parents are undocumented. The trend could get worse, they say, if a proposed change to immigration policy goes through.  

Public universities in Kansas are proposing tuition hikes significantly lower than some of the larger increases seen in recent years. The schools presented the plans to the Kansas Board of Regents this week.

The increases in tuition and fees for in-state, undergraduate students range from 1.2 percent at Kansas State University to 3 percent at the University of Kansas.

Some 20 administrators in the Kansas agency managing child welfare and state assistance have been promoted, fired or shifted to other posts since November.

Gina Meier-Hummel was tapped to take over the Department for Children and Families nearly six months ago and says now that the changes have been aimed at strengthening the agency as it confronts a rising caseload of children in care.

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When it comes to the availability of help for those addicted to drugs, Texas performs worse than any other state.

According to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub, Texas lands at the top of the list of states with the fewest substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 residents.

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A new wind turbine in the Texas Panhandle is the largest in the United States.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the turbine is located at the UL Advanced Wind Turbine Test Facility at West Texas A&M University, in Randall County.

The hub of the turbine stands 427 feet above the ground, and the tip of a blade at its highest point rises to 654 feet. By comparison, that’s one hundred feet taller than the Washington Monument, and over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Public universities in Kansas saw some of their funding restored as part of the new state budget.

The budget restores $15 million to the Kansas Board of Regents. In fiscal year 2017, state universities spent about $570 million in state funding.  

Today on High Plains Morning, we heard from Sonja Gross, Public Information Officer for the Amarillo District of the Texas Department of Transportation. She came on the show to remind us about the very real dangers of distracted driving.

That's any activity that takes your attention away from driving, such as texting and talking on a mobile phone to eating and drinking, putting on makeup, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, watching a video and even adjusting the radio. 

(This story has been updated)  

The ink is barely dry on a deal to increase school spending by more than half a billion dollars, but Kansas is already headed for a fresh round of legal arguments.

School districts suing the state say the plan falls short in part because it will happen gradually over five years. They want the Kansas Supreme Court to make the state pay out $506 million more this fiscal year — on top of the $190 million boost the Legislature had already promised.

From Texas Standard:

An earlier version of this story said that thousands of children in Texas foster care are sexually abused. The data shows that CPS investigated thousands of reports of sexual abuse in Texas. Of those, CPS found 43 confirmed cases of sexual abuse while in foster care. We have updated this article and the audio version of the story to reflect the update.

A quick warning – some parts of this story are disturbing.

Texas children in foster care are getting pregnant at a rate five times higher than children who are not in the system. That was the shocking bottom line of a report released last month by the non-profit policy organization Texans Care for Children.

The Kansas Legislature has narrowly approved a controversial measure allowing faith-based adoption and foster care agencies in Kansas to be reimbursed by the state for placement services, even if they turn away prospective parents who don’t fit their religious beliefs.

The bill that includes the provisions constituting the “Adoption Protection Act” passed the House shortly before midnight Thursday with the bare minimum 63 votes in favor with 58 against. The Senate followed suit a couple hours later on a 24-15 vote. In a statement, Gov. Jeff Colyer said he would sign it.

Janelle DuBree didn’t need statistics to see that foster kids are traumatized. The evidence was spilled, smashed and smeared all over her kitchen and down the hallway.

Two of the younger girls she took in, on one of their first nights in her Emporia home, raided the kitchen around 2 a.m. Eggs were cracked and trailed everywhere — on the floor, the countertops, the side of the refrigerator. Her carpet was soaked in bright red Hawaiian Punch.

DuBree adopted the girls, now 7 and 9, from a place where food wasn’t always available. So when it was plentiful, they took out and ate everything they could.

Texas is among a small group of states with cases of Valley fever, a lung infection caused by breathing in a fungus called Coccidioides. The illness has been around for a long time, but hasn't really gotten much attention – until recently.

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Many hundreds of workers have fallen ill due to work performed over the years at the Pantex nuclear arms facility northeast of Amarillo.

As The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, since an employee compensation program began in 2000, over $171 million has been doled out to 1,300 workers and their families, to compensate for various forms of cancers contracted while working with nuclear materials at the plant.

Kansas lawmakers gave the go-ahead Monday to expand telemedicine services after reaching agreement on abortion language that had threatened to scuttle the move.

The bill cleared the state Senate and House by large margins, but only after eleventh-hour brinksmanship that gave anti-abortion forces the assurances they demanded.

Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization, fought for weeks to maintain a clause in the legislation designed to discourage a court challenge over its ban on drug-induced abortions.

From Texas Standard.

Tulia is an agricultural hamlet of 5,000 souls in the middle of the Texas Panhandle, just under an hour south of Amarillo. It’s where 18-year-old Tawnee Flowers grew up and went to high school.

Kansas senators will return Monday to find a school finance fix waiting on their desks, hammered out in the House over the weekend.

The bill undoes an $80 million error inserted last-minute into this year’s school funding bill.

From Texas Standard.

Christopher Scott was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for capital murder. He spent more than a dozen years behind bars before another man confessed to the crime and Scott was declared innocent. With his second chance at freedom, Scott teamed up with two other exonerated Texans to form a Dallas detective agency of sorts to help others who have been wrongfully convicted.

U.S. Census Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

Texas plans to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into fixing the state’s beleaguered special-education system.

As The Houston Chronicle reports, the Texas Education Agency plans to spend nearly $212 million over the next five years to help students with special needs. The news comes in the wake of a 2016 study, which found that Texas had been systemically failing to adequately serve tens of thousands of special needs students statewide.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families is opening up child protection services jobs to people who aren’t licensed social workers.

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Fire dangers continue to threaten Western Oklahoma, as the state recovers from historic blazes that burned up hundreds of thousands of acres and left dozens of homes in ruins.

However, the Oklahoma Forestry Service had not issued any more red flag warnings as of late Thursday afternoon.

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