HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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


‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability


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

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In states like Colorado, where cannabis is now legal, a mysterious marijuana-related illness is bringing people with symptoms of nausea, severe abdominal pain and violent vomiting to hospital emergency rooms.


A new law in Oklahoma could ban the use of all handheld devices while driving.

As KXII reports, Senate Bill 44 hopes to amend and strengthen current legislation. The new bill was introduced into the state Legislature last week.

As it stands now, it’s illegal in Oklahoma to text while driving.

New research by Texas A&M economists shows that Americans have become less charitable over the past 10 years.

cherrina / Creative Commons

Should Oklahoma students be required to take more math classes?

As The Lawton Constitution reports, high school students in the Sooner State are currently only required to take three years of math.

Oklahoma is one of 25 states that require students to take three years of math. Eighteen states require a full four years of math classes. The remaining states only require two years of math.

Every end-of-year, the topic of resolutions comes up, as does  the topic of resolutions quickly fading into obscurity within weeks of being made.

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Texas schools appear to be improving, at least according to one measure.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the Lone Star State has shown a decrease in the number of schools that are failing. The annual Public Education Grant list identifies schools that have struggled on state tests in the past three years. This year, the numbers showed 150 fewer failing campuses statewide.

The Rural Blog

High Plains residents can be grateful, for once, about our dearth of trees and lakes.

According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Labor, logging is far and away the most dangerous occupation in America. Fishing is the second most dangerous job.

Chris Neal / Topeka Capital-Journal

In recent years, American schools have experienced a rising problem of kids missing too much school.

And, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education, rates of chronic absenteeism are highest in rural areas.

Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

Sixty-one Texas hospitals will see federal funding cuts next year, reports The Dallas Morning News. The cuts will come mostly in funding for patient infections and injuries.

The cut in funding is a punishment of sorts, under what is known as the hospital-acquired condition reduction program.

The Wall Street Journal

Like many other rural institutions like hospitals and factories, rural colleges have been struggling—and among these, rural liberal arts colleges have perhaps been hit the hardest.

According to U.S. Department of Education data, of the 300 private four-year colleges in rural areas, 43 percent have seen declines in enrollment in recent years.

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After more than a year of threats, Texas is officially kicking Planned Parenthood out of its Medicaid program.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, the $3 million in Medicaid reimbursements the organization received in 2015 will be cancelled next month.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What has been referred to in the past few years as a “Nightmare” superbug, which up until now has been confined to hospitals, may have spread outside of health care facilities.

CDC/Wikimedia Commons

North Texas and Oklahoma have been experiencing the worst mumps outbreak in years.

More than 300 Oklahomans have been diagnosed, in Canadian, McClain, Osage, Tulsa, Woods, Kay, and Garfield counties, according to KWTV.

Texas, meanwhile, has seen the worst outbreak in a decade after steady declines, reports KCEN.

Pexels / Creative Commons

$350 million in funding cuts to help disabled children in Texas went into effect last week.

As KXAS reports, the cuts are an effort by state lawmakers to “achieve savings” for the Lone Star State.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Carrie Williams said her agency is “will monitor the reduction of rates to ensure access to care is not impacted.”


A Kansas State University professor, during a presentation about the importance of free speech in holding public officials accountable, described some of President-elect Donald Trump's comments President-elect Donald Trump as threats to the First Amendment.

Khampha Bouaphanh / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rural Texas residents have struggled to find adequate healthcare for a long time. In the last three years alone, fifteen rural hospitals have closed in Texas.

In fact, the American College of Emergency Physicians has given the Lone Star State an F when it comes to providing emergency care access to small town residents.

Creative Commons

A task force formed to address rural health care problems recently determined that keys to Kansas’ future in that arena include expanding telemedicine and addressing workforce shortages.

WKU / Creative Commons

The scourge of opiate addiction isn’t just affecting teens and adults in the heartland. According to a new study, infants are being exposed to opioids in the womb at a much faster rate in rural communities than in urban settings.


How healthy are people on the High Plains? According to a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, only two of the five states in the HPPR listening area rank among the top half of states when it comes to health.


Rural Americans continue to struggle to find adequate mental health care. That’s despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act guaranteed that mental and behavioral health treatment would be covered by all health insurance policies sold on the federal health exchange.

However, as IVN reports, psychological coverage does little good if you live in an area where no services are available.

James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle

A database has been made public that reveals the files of over 5,000 people who have died in police custody in Texas, reports The Houston Chronicle.

This week Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office launched an online initiative known as the Custodial Death Report database. This makes readily available the files that a police agency creates when someone dies in custody.


Some High Plains drivers are among the worst in America, according to a new study.

The insurance website QuoteWizard has ranked drivers in all fifty states. The site used a number of metrics, including total accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations, and fatalities, weighted to account for population.

Sarah Hoffman / Omaha World-Herald

Across rural America, volunteer fire departments are struggling to fill their ranks.

As The Omaha World-Herald reports, the problem is that volunteer firefighters and ambulance drivers are growing increasingly older, and there simply isn’t enough interest among the younger population to replace those who age out.

Futureproof / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress passed legislation last week that will go a long way toward fighting opioid abuse.

As The Rural Blog reports, the law will increase funding for medical research and speed up federal approval of new drugs that will help Americans struggling with addiction.

The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk. The president praised the law, saying “We are now one step closer to . . . helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need.”


Two northwest Kansas superintendents are excited about the prospect of having their small school districts equipped with high-speed Internet.

Texas Child Protective Services is drawing criticism for discontinuing its issuance of special visas for undocumented immigrant child victims of crime.

Gallup/CDC / WaPo/Wonkblog

Almost half of overweight Americans don’t know they’re overweight, reports The Washington Post.


High Plains women who’ve come to rely on free birth control under the Affordable Care Act may lose their benefits once the Trump administration takes the reins.

The law providing cost-free contraception has been popular among working women, but deeply unpopular with foes of abortion rights. And Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services is an avowed opponent of reproductive rights.

MediC Pix / Alamy Stock Photo

In recent months Texas has launched itself into the center of the anti-vaxxer movement.

According to a new report by Science magazine, the Lone Star state is us quickly becoming a battlefield in the war between those who support childhood vaccinations and those who claim they’re dangerous.

Brian Lowry / The Wichita Eagle

Rural schools in the Sunflower State received some good news this week. Over the next two years, every Kansas public school could be equipped with high-speed internet, reports The Wichita Eagle.

This week Governor Sam Brownback announced that about 300 schools in Kansas, most of them in rural areas, will be equipped with fiber-optic connections to provide high-speed Internet access to students.