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

Health by Got Credit / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Accenture faces $750,000 fine for incorrect reporting of application backlog.

News of a mistake that dropped several thousand Kansans from state Medicaid backlog reports has advocates and Democratic lawmakers questioning the state’s oversight of the contractor blamed for the error.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

If you’re in Colorado and looking to get back to nature this summer, head to your local library. Nearly 300 libraries across the state are now offering state parks passes for checkout, reports Colorodoan.com. It’s all happening through a new program launched on Monday called “Check Out State Parks.”

fstop/Getty Images

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Doctors-in-training learn a lot about the workings of the human body during medical school and residency. But many are taught next to nothing about the workings of the health care system. One university in Washington, D.C., is trying to change that.

David Koehn / NET Nebraska

If you think sex trafficking only happens along the border or in major cities, think again. A recent report by NET Nebraska shows that sex trafficking is thriving in rural America. It’s believed that hundreds of people are sold for sex in Nebraska each year. And many of those cases occur in small towns.

Jim McClean / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Patient advocacy groups in Kansas remain concerned about a Medicaid drug policy scheduled to take effect July 1.

Known as “fail first” or “step therapy,” the policy requires providers participating in KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to start patients on less expensive drugs before moving them to more expensive alternatives if medically necessary.

Daily Beast

Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are expected to arrive in the United States as early as this summer, notes The Daily Beast. The disease is known to cause birth defects when contracted by pregnant women. Texas is expected to be among the states most affected by the virus.

Carl Juste / MBR/Houston Chroncile

Five nonprofit organizations in Texas have been awarded almost $5 million by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reports The Houston Chronicle. The money will go toward boosting efforts to enroll the state's nearly three-quarters of a million uninsured children.


From the Kansas Health Institute:

The Obama administration on Wednesday moved to sharply limit short-term health insurance plans, which a growing number of consumers have been buying even though they offer less coverage than what the Affordable Care Act decreed all people should have.

Center for Disease Control Public Health Image Library

It’s a tiny virus, visible only with an electron microscope, but it could wreak major havoc this summer if it’s not contained. As the weather warms and mosquitos arrive, the Zika virus could spread further through Texas, The Houston Chronicle reports.


It’s looking like the weed-killer atrazine is in for a long uphill battle, reports Politico. The EPA recently assessed the widely sprayed substance as harmful to animals and plants. But last week agriculture industry groups charged that the federal agency’s study is based on a misguided scientific review.

There's a new study out. It shows that health providers in states that expanded Medicaid are doing much better than providers in states that didn't expand the program.

Joe Amon / Denver Post

Cities on the High Plains that have been threatened by wild fires in recent months may soon be watching firefighters in Boulder, Colorado. The city of Boulder is testing a new app that could help fight natural blazes. The app is called the Android Team Awareness Kit, reports The Denver Post. The Boulder Fire Department hopes the new technology will help them better coordinate efforts to fight large wildland fires.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Vox.com reported on an interesting paradox concerning the college admission process known as affirmative action. Since the program’s inception, white women have benefitted more than any other segment of the American population. Yet they are among its most fervent opponents. The irony lies in the fact that the program gained national attention when Abigail Fisher, a white woman from Texas, sued the University of Texas for not allowing her admittance.


Rural High Plains residents know the benefits of living in wide open spaces. But they’re also familiar with the drawbacks. One pitfall of rural living: It can be hard to access good places to exercise. Rural mothers rely on outdoor activities to promote health and well-being for their families, notes The Rural Blog. But they often struggle with the long distances they have to travel to find outdoor exercise resources.

Nicholas Benson / Wikimedia Commons

Floundering amid a devastating budget crisis, Oklahoma has turned to slashing higher education funding. State lawmakers have cut $67 million in higher ed funding from the current budget. And that comes on top of the $112 million that was cut last year, reports NewsOK.

Laura Buckman / Texas Tribune

Recent efforts to prevent suicide in Texas are focusing on the state’s small towns, reports The Texas Tribune. The Tribune recently analyzed Texas death records from 2004 to 2013. The paper found that the rate of suicide is 15 percent higher in counties with an urban population of less than 20,000 people than it is in more metropolitan counties.

v1ctor / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A broad proposal by Medicare to change the way it pays for some drugs has drawn intense reaction and lobbying, with much of the debate centering on whether the plan gives too much power over drug prices to government regulators.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

A group of Nebraska farmers is suing the giant seed and chemical company, Monsanto, in federal court saying the company’s top-selling herbicide gave them cancer.

Farmers Larry Domina, Robert Dickey, and Royce Janzen, along with farm agronomist Frank Pollard, have each been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. They were exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller in their work on the farm.

Creative Commons

Meatless Mondays may be coming to a school near you. A new initiative by the Humane Society of the United States hopes to change the way folks eat—and the project is gaining steam. In 2011, reports Politico, Kristie Middleton started the Humane Society’s meatless transition team.


Summer is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to think about how to take care of our skin. Skin cancer is more common in the US than breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers combined. But some cities are more harmful than others. In some areas, the rate of skin cancer is lower, the air cleaner, the sun kinder, and treatment more accessible.

Jonathan Baker/HPPR

This month I've been sitting in on a different kind of college course. The class, led by West Texas A&M English professor Bonney MacDonald, consists of four hours of open discussion, Monday through Friday for two weeks.

Bob Daemmerich / Texas Tribune

Texas’s controversial “Top 10 Percent” college admission rule could be in jeopardy when the state legislature meets again in 2017. Gov. Greg Abbott has called for changes to the law, reports The Texas Tribune. The legislation, as it stands now, promises automatic admission into any Texas public university for all students who finish in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.


A new law aims to help the state of Colorado cut back on overdose deaths from illegal drugs, reports Colorado Public Radio. The bill was signed into law last Thursday by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. Many overdose deaths occur because when a drug user overdoses, the user’s friends don’t always call the paramedics. That’s because they’re afraid they’ll be arrested for holding or consuming illegal drugs.


Nearly 90 percent of Coloradans with Hepatitis C are not being treated, reports Colorado Public Radio. The lack of medical care is occurring despite the availability of medication. Hepatitis C is a chronic liver infection. It’s transmitted when a person comes into contact with infectious fluids and secretions from someone else who is already infected with the hepatitis C virus. That transmission often occurs through tainted IVs and IV drug use.

The Nation

The Oklahoma grand jury tasked with looking into the state's troubled executions released its report last week, and the contents were troubling. The study found that jail staff did not verify which drugs they were using for lethal injections before giving them to death row inmates. And after the wrong drugs were administered, staff remained in the dark about their mistake.

Public Domain

A program in Colorado that helps teach low-income parents about proper diet and nutrition appears to be working, reports Colorado Public Radio. New research shows that the state’s childhood obesity rates are down for families taking part in the program. The federally-funded nutrition initiative is known as WIC, which stands for Women, Infants and Children.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Health advocates cheered this week when Oklahoma officials announced they were considering expanding Medicaid in that state. Oklahoma has been missing out on millions of federal health care dollars with its decision to not participate in the Affordable Care Act. But with ballooning budget problems and rising health care costs in the state, opting out no longer seems viable. And that means Texas could be next, reports member station KUT.


Just as the state of Colorado is embarking on a number of critical education initiatives, Education Commissioner Rich Crandall shocked the state by suddenly announcing his resignation last week. Crandall had only been on the job for four and a half months, reports Chalkbeat.org.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Most Americans want the government to pay for health care, a new poll shows. According to KRMG Tulsa, 58 percent favor replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a federally funded health care program.

Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

Texas health officials have deemed Zika “the virus from Hell.” As summer approaches, efforts are underway to combat the virus, reports The Austin American Statesman. The state’s undertaking is focused on controlling the mosquito population.