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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Texans are letting sexual taboos get in the way of preventing cancer, according to a recent editorial in The Dallas Morning News.

When it comes to vaccinating kids against the human papillomavirus, better known as HPV, Texas ranks near the bottom. The shot has been around for a decade now, and it prevents a virus that 90% of men and 85% of women will otherwise contract in their lifetimes. In a small percentage of cases, HPV can lead to cancer.

Wallethub

When it comes to charitable giving, Oklahoma ranks in the top 10 among all states, according to a new study by the personal finance website Wallethub.

Oklahoma was the only state in the HPPR listening area to make the top 10, though Kansas was close behind at number 12. 

Nebraska landed at number 20, and Colorado just missed making the top half of states, with an appearance at number 26 on the list.

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Colorado is taking its battle against human trafficking to the road.

As The Denver Post reports, proposed legislation in Colorado would use the eyes and ears of the road – truckers – to battle the state’s growing battle with human trafficking.

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Oklahoma has once again been ranked first in the nation when it comes to slashing funding for education.

As KOSU reports, over the past decade Oklahoma has cut school funding more per-pupil than any other state. According to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, since 2008, the amount of funding available per pupil in Oklahoma has dropped by almost 30 percent.

The deadline to sign up for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplace is less than three weeks away, on Dec. 15—several weeks earlier than last year’s deadline. It's not the only change in the marketplace.

Public Domain

The State of Texas is scrambling to find a way to avoid telling nearly half a million Texas kids that they’ve lost health coverage this holiday season.

As things currently stand, hundreds of thousands of children in Texas will be informed of their lost coverage three days before Christmas.

Pixabay

If Congress doesn’t act in the next two months to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, more than 75,000 children and pregnant women will be without insurance.

As The Denver Post reports, Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP – called the Child Health Plan Plus, or CHP+ in Colorado - provides coverage for children in families that bring in just enough income to be above the cutoff for Medicaid and federal funding for the program officially expired last month.

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Coloradans will soon see commercials warning about the dangers of using tobacco products.

The tobacco industry will start running the ads this week in Colorado, as Colorado Public Radio reports, due to an 11-year-old court ruling that found tobacco companies had misled the public about the dangers of cigarettes.

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Potter County, Texas, which encompasses part of Amarillo, is considering launching a lawsuit against major drug companies.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, the county hopes to win back some of the money spent in the battle against the opioid scourge. Attorney Jack Walker has asked Potter County to join in the lawsuit being filed by his Dallas firm.

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Texans only have a few weeks to wait until medical marijuana becomes legal in the state. But, as The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, only Texans with the most tenacious forms of epilepsy will be allowed to purchase the drug.

Marijuana plants are currently being grown in South-Central Texas. The active ingredients in the plants will be converted to liquids and sold in droppers to epileptics before the end of this year.

Children who come from low-income families, have disabilities, aren’t white or don’t speak English at home appear to be disproportionately paying the price of Kansas’ teacher shortage, according to an analysis by the Kansas News Service.

Particularly affected are Liberal, Garden City and Dodge City — southwest Kansas towns where most of the students come from low-income families and more than half face the added challenge of building math, literacy and other skills while acquiring English as a second language.

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The two largest universities in Texas own hundreds of thousands of acres across West Texas—and the University of Texas and Texas A&M are increasingly leasing that land to solar and wind operations.

As The Daily Texan reports, the two universities combined control over 2.1 million acres of land statewide. The universities have often fueled their growth in the past by leasing acreage to oil and natural gas producers.

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Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin recently signed an executive order declaring that all school districts that spend less than 60% of their budgets on instruction should be consolidated, reports The Oklahoman.

Put more simply, a school district must be spending six out of every ten dollars to pay teachers. If not, the district will be forced to combine with a nearby district, or share budgets, maintenance, equipment, and other employees like janitors and counselors.

Colorado Taking Steps To Address Teacher Shortage

Nov 22, 2017
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New efforts are being made to attract new teachers to rural areas of Colorado.

Education officials are finalizing a list of recommendations to address challenges to Colorado’s teacher workforce, and as The Denver Post reports, state officials are considering asking lawmakers to take the bold step of establishing a minimum teacher salary requirement tied to the cost of living.

This story was updated at 4:24 p.m. to include comments from the CEO of McPherson Hospital.

Two Kansas hospitals have been selected to take part in a federal demonstration program aimed at ensuring access to health care in underserved areas.

The two, McPherson Hospital in McPherson and Morton County Health System in Elkhart, were among 13 nationwide chosen for the demonstration project being conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

hhs.texas.gov

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.

KVDP / Wikimedia Commons

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.

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