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

Matthias Zomer / Creative Commons

Oklahoma lawmakers are blaming President Donald Trump’s White House for rising healthcare premiums in the Sooner State.

As The Hill reports, officials are charging the administration with missing a deadline to approve a key waiver for the state under the Affordable Care Act.

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In Texas, when community college students are required to take remedial classes to get up to speed, those students often don’t make it far.

Now, as The Texas Tribune reports, the state is initiating a major overhaul of the community college remedial education system. The hope is that the new system will improve the odds of graduating for students who struggle in the beginning. The current statistics are dire. Only 15 percent of students who take a remedial math course end up passing a single college-level math class. 

PBS.ORG

In a few days, edible marijuana will no longer come in shapes that might appeal to kids - like humans, animals, fruits or cartoons.

As The Cannabist reports, starting Oct. 1, edible marijuana will come only in shapes like squares, circles, triangles or diamonds as part of new rules aimed at ensuring public health and safety, including keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, minors and illegal operations.

amboo who? / Flickr Creative Commons

A new federal education law will give Oklahoma more freedom and responsibility when it comes to fixing its failing schools, reports StateImpact.

Kansas education officials did little to promote a public comment period for a school accountability plan designed to steer the state through 2030 and guide nearly $2 billion in federal spending.

While some states that publicized town halls and launched online surveys for their plans collected comments by the thousands, Kansas officials didn’t use such tools nor issue news releases or social media posts about the state’s public comment period.

A prescription drug monitoring program in Kansas will receive a federal grant worth more than $178,000 to help fight the opioid crisis.

The Kansas Board of Pharmacy oversees K-TRACS, a system for monitoring prescriptions for controlled substances.

Board Executive Secretary Alexandra Blasi says doctors, dentists and pharmacists who participate in the program report their prescription activity to the state to verify a patient’s history.

Disasters can happen at any time, so emergency responders say the best way to survive is to plan ahead.

The reminder comes as part of September’s National Preparedness Month.

For the past 16 years, emergency management officials have conducted a public campaign to get people ready to face a disaster.

They recommend placing non-perishable food, water and supplies into a container to be used when needed.

Cody Charvat with Sedgwick County Emergency Management says it’s important to plan for the possibility of losing electricity for up to 72 hours.

Millions of victims of a data hack that targeted a Kansas state agency in possession of Social Security numbers were not informed of the breach directly, according to information obtained through an open records request.

The Kansas Department of Commerce says it only had valid email addresses for about 2.5 million of the more than 6 million job seeker accounts that were exposed. It sent notices to those addresses and further spread word of the hack through news releases and other public messages.

Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A new Texas law gives financial institutions greater authority to stop transactions that they suspect are aimed at defrauding elderly or disabled clients.

Prompted by a man she had never met, an elderly woman in Dallas County recently decided to sell her home and wire the $200,000 windfall to a mysterious bank account, a victims advocate recalled. 

The man, who claimed to be communicating from Nigeria, promised to marry her. It was all a scam. Today, the woman is homeless.

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The Oklahoma Education Department has released a new plan to address the ongoing woes of the state’s education system, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The goals of the plan include reducing the state’s recent reliance on emergency certified teachers and raising the state’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent. The plan will also try to ease hunger in schools, and force underfunded public schools that have gone to a four-day school week to fix their calendars.

The American Humanist Association on Wednesday sued Kansas prison officials, alleging the Topeka Correctional Facility promotes Christianity in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, claims the prison displays prayers and messages on prison bulletin boards, has erected an eight-foot cross in one of its multi-purpose rooms and often broadcasts movies with Christian themes on inmates’ televisions.

USDA / Wikimedia Commons

A new law will allow Texas school districts to store and distribute leftover food from the cafeteria.

Wallethub

After the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance rates in America dipped to historic lows. But those uninsured rates are on the rise again, thanks to uncertainty in the insurance markets. And uninsured rates can vary wildly across states.

The personal finance website Wallethub recently set out to find which states had the lowest rates of uninsured citizens.

CCO Creative Commons

Low pay is being blamed for a teacher shortage in parts of rural Colorado.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, teachers’ salaries in rural Colorado can be over $20,000 lower than those in urban areas.

UTexas / Wikimedia Commons

The rising population of high school students in the Lone Star State has led the University of Texas in Austin to further restrict its admission policy.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, students hoping for automatic admission to UT-Austin will now need to be in the top 6 percent of their graduating class.

U.S. Marine Corps / Wikimedia Commons

Opiates continue to ravage rural communities in Oklahoma, and the question of how to combat the problem is expected to dominate the 2018 legislative session.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the state is doing some things right, but in other areas the response to the drug epidemic has lagged behind other states. Overdoses from methamphetamine and heroin have increased in recent years. In fact, last year, a record 899 Oklahomans died from drug overdoses.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr Creative Commons

Back in 1983, a unique law was passed requiring high school principals in Texas to register eligible students to vote. Thirty-four years later, few principals are complying with the law. And, as The Texas Tribune reports, voter registration is at a historic low in the Lone Star State.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos touted the importance of making higher education accessible Thursday while on a whirlwind tour of vocational classrooms at Johnson County Community College.

The highly orchestrated two-hour visit included stops to view spaces used for teaching automotive, electrical, welding, nursing and culinary programs.

The stop was part of a six-state tour in which DeVos has traveled to public and private schools, highlighting themes ranging from services for children with autism to Native American education.

Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Kansas continues to face a teacher shortage, with schools reporting 440 vacancies this school year.

Those empty jobs worry educators because they force schools into workarounds, such as larger class sizes or long-term substitutes. They can also reduce class offerings and lessen support for special-education students.

Janet Waugh represents Kansas City, Kansas on the State Board of Education. She calls the situation heart breaking.

Kansas is one of several states experiencing an outbreak of bacterial infections linked to puppies sold at Petland stores. So far, five cases in Kansas have been reported.

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change.

Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year.

The uninsured rate in Missouri declined to 8.9 percent from 9.8 percent the previous year.

Pixabay

Long distances, rugged topography and scattered population centers are among several barriers to providing broadband Internet service to Colorado’s rural areas.

As The Denver Post reports, the state’s broadband map shows vast stretches of the state – especially on the Eastern Plains and across the mountains – with slow to no internet service.

Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

More than half of U.S. rural counties have no hospital where women can give birth, according to MinnPost.com.

According to a new study by the University of Minnesota, over the past decade, the number of U.S. rural counties without obstetric units increased by 50 percent.

This means that rural women are at greater risk of birth-related complications than previously realized.

US Census Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that Oklahoma is facing as major teacher crisis. But, as Oklahoma Watch reports, within that larger crisis is another problem. The state suffers from an increasingly dwindling pool of special education teachers.

The results of the state's latest ACT test shows the number of Kansas students who are college-ready is on the decline.

Texas Looks To Improve Troubled Foster Care System

Sep 7, 2017
CCO Creative Commons

A number of laws took effect earlier this month meant to improve Texas’s child welfare system.

As KUT reports, the state’s foster care system was deemed unconstitutional and “broken” by a U.S. District Judge in Dec. 2015, following several reports about Texas kids dying from neglect and abuse while in foster care.

That led to a series of bills aimed at overhauling the system, including Senate Bill 11, which establishes a model that increasingly privatizes the foster care system.

Nellis Air Force Base

Almost 50 million rural Americans lack access to sufficient dental care.

As Mother Jones reports, in large swaths of the country it can be difficult to make a dental appointment even if you have private insurance. And for Americans who rely on Medicaid, it can be practically impossible to find dental care in small towns. Fewer than half of the dentists in the United States accept Medicaid, and many of those who do are in the cities.

Wikimedia Commons

West Texas A&M University has selected a site for its new football stadium, reports Amarillo.com.

As university president Walter Wendler announced last week, the new stadium will be located on Russell Long Boulevard in Canyon, on the north side of the campus near the other athletic facilities.

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