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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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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A new law in Texas will require all insurance companies to include 3-D mammograms as part of their coverage plans, reports The Texas Tribune.

The new law was introduced into the Texas Legislature by State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston. Congresswoman Thompson is herself a breast cancer survivor. She stressed the importance of the advanced screening technology, which can detect cancer early and reduce false positives.

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Over the past 10 years, American schools have been slowly decreasing the amount of recess time for students. The reduction in playtime is part of an effort to make more time for students to prepare for standardized tests.

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The Trump administration’s decision to end the DACA program could adversely affect the number of teachers available for schools across America, including schools on the High Plains.

As The Washington Post repor­­­­ts, there are an estimated 20,000 educators in America who came to the U.S. as undocumented children. In Texas alone, there are around 2,000 such teachers.

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Despite uncertainty about the future of a federal program aimed at helping school districts across the U.S. pay for technology, superintendents across Kansas are moving ahead with the application process for next school year in an effort to keep classroom technology current.

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A study released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has found that black and Hispanic children in Texas have significantly more barriers to success than white and Asian students. These barriers include poverty, health care availability, and access to a good education.

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In an effort to recruit more out-of-state students, the University of Nebraska-Kearney will offer in-state tuition to Colorado and Kansas residents.

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The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections recently wrote a piece about solitary confinement featured in The New York Times.

In September, Colorado ended the practice of long-term solitary confinement, Rick Raemisch wrote, after he assisted the State Department and several United Nations countries in modernizing international standards for the treatment of prisoners, now known as the Nelson Mandela rules.

Emily Dumler, a Shawnee, Kansas, resident who was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, successfully underwent immunotherapy more than two years ago.

Dumler was among the first people in the world to receive the treatment, which stimulates the immune system to fight cancer. But she had to travel to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to receive it.

The state of Kansas is scrambling to regain federal funding for one of its psychiatric hospitals and to prevent the decertification of another.

Officials at the agency responsible for the state’s mental health hospitals say they’re confident that the renovations needed to fix problems at the Larned State Hospital, problems turned up by a recent inspection, will be completed in time to avoid a threatened loss of federal funding in January.

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Amarillo and the surrounding areas continue to be overrun with large numbers of feral cats and stray dogs. In fact, the ratio of humans to animals in Amarillo is larger than in bigger cities like Austin and Waco.

But now, as The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the Amarillo Humane Society has a plan to do something about the problem, and it could mean big changes in the way the local Humane Society operates.

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Researchers in Texas recently spent a year watching low income Hispanic kids engage with a new kind of classroom environment.

In this new method, kids are given much more freedom to decide who to work with and which projects to initiate, and they’re allowed to ask questions without raising their hands. The result? The kids scored 30 points higher on tests than students in traditional classes.

Seems like cause for change, right? Not so fast.

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