HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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Suzanne Kreiter / Boston Globe/Getty

A majority of Americans say they still go to work even when they’re sick, reports South Dakota Public Radio. And this tendency can have a very negative effect on the nation’s public health at large. Over half of people who work in public places like hospitals and restaurants report going to work when they have a cold or the flu. Many of these people work with food.

Prowers Journal

As folks go traipsing into the wild this summer, it’s important to remember some basic facts about rabies. Luckily, The Prowers Journal was there this week for High Plains readers. Here are the highlights:

Chris Nickels / NPR

Americans now hold a staggering $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. And last week, Prairie Public News asked an important question: How did we get here? To get to the bottom of the question, PPN interviewed journalist Lance Williams of The Center for Investigative Reporting. Williams recently co-reported an in-depth piece for the center’s radio show Reveal. Here are some highlights of his responses:

Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

In Oklahoma, insurance revenues for home health care dropped last year in comparison to previous years. At the same time, the price of home healthcare rose 2.5 percent over last year, reports member station KGOU. In fact, healthcare costs are rising in every area of health care in Oklahoma.

It’s not just in Oklahoma; home health care costs are going up nationwide. The reason? More Medicare providers are trying to keep chronically ill patients out of hospitals.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

A successful program in Michigan that helps hungry families buy more healthy food is expanding across the country.

Patrick Michels / Texas Observer

The Observer has published a thoughtful examination of what it means to be a legal guardian in Texas. When all other efforts have been exhausted, guardianship is used to protect people from neglect or abuse. But the situation all too often leads to neglect and abuse—and results in the removal of legal rights. Due to an aging populace and scattered families, guardianships are increasingly common in the Lone Star State.

Creative Commons

Concerns continue to grow in Texas about the spread of Zika, The state has now documented its first baby born with a disease linked to the virus. The infant with Zika-linked microcephly was born near Houston, reports USA TODAY. The mother had arrived in Texas from Latin America, where she presumably contracted the virus. Officials insist there is no risk to the public, as neither the mother nor the baby are infectious.


From the Kansas Health Institute:

About 12 percent dropped coverage, close to national average.

Almost nine out of every 10 Kansans who selected health insurance on the federal online marketplace paid for at least the first month of their coverage this year, offering one bit of stability in the sometimes-turbulent marketplace.

Creative Commons

Pot opponents in Colorado had been gearing up to for a battle to try to force a vote on whether marijuana dealers in the state should require less-potent pot. Their proposed initiative would have also warned pot shoppers that the drug could cause brain damage and paranoia. But now these opponents have decided to give up the fight, reports Colorado Public Radio.

Backers of the measure announced Friday that they have been unable to raise enough money to advertise their plan.

Free State High School in Lawrence, Kan., a public school. Kansas has for years been the stage for a messy school funding fight that has shaken the Legislature and reached the State Supreme Court.Credit Mike Yoder / AP photoEdit | Remove

Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

The State of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections has leased a new private facility in far western Oklahoma, near Sayre. The state began moving inmates there last Tuesday, reports KGOU.

The new facility will mark the first time the state has utilized a private facility to house inmates, though state employees will run the prison. The facility is owned by Corrections Corporation of America.

Funding cuts and changes for children’s programs across the state became a reality at the start of this month — and that means fewer Kansas families will receive some services.

An official with TARC, a Shawnee County organization that serves people with developmental disabilities, said the nonprofit was out of options for administrative cuts in the wake of state funding reductions.

CNN/Texas Department of Public Safety/US Census Bureau

There are almost 28 million people living in Texas, and more than 1 million of them are licensed to carry a handgun, reports CNN. That’s one out of every 28 people. Dallas County has the third highest number of gun licensees in the state, following Harris (139,563) and Tarrant (71,504) counties.

Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons

Clarendon College will soon offer grants to prisoners, reports Amarillo.com.

The small-town college is one of nine institutions in Texas chosen to participate in an experimental federal program offering Pell grants to prisoners. The initiative is part of the Obama administrations’ Second Chance Pell pilot program, which will provide grants to adults incarcerated in U.S. prisons.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Insurer only MCO to report no expenses for Kansas legislator meals in 2016

For the second year in a row, UnitedHealthcare reported no lobbying expenses during the Kansas legislative session.

The insurance company remained the outlier among the three under contract to administer KanCare, the privatized form of Medicaid that Kansas adopted in 2013.

Robin Jerstad / Texas Tribune

School districts in oil producing regions across Texas have been struggling in the aftermath of the oil bust, reports The Texas Tribune in its new series “Rough Patch: How plunging oil prices are reversing fortunes across Texas.”

With the Zika virus now in the Sunflower State, state agencies and university laboratories are searching for methods to keep the number of cases at a minimum. KMUW's Abigail Wilson has the story.

Texas Tribune

A new lawsuit brought by a group of intellectually-disabled people in Texas accuses the state of routinely “warehousing” the disabled in nursing homes, reports KVUE.

Creative Commons

As summer descends, concerns continue to mount that the Zika virus will spread in Texas over the coming months. In response, the City of Amarillo’s Public Health and Environmental Health departments have launched campaign called Mission Mosquito. The goal is to educate the public on how to prevent mosquito bites and reduce breeding areas in the city, reports MyHighPlains.com.


On this summer holiday, it’s important to remember Americans of a furrier ilk. Every Independence Day animals are at risk of injury, notes KFDA.

Pets can become spooked by fireworks and run away, or be injured by the explosives themselves. Christy Fischer, Assistant Director of Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare, says the Fourth of July is the busiest day for most any shelter across the country.

Here are some steps you can take to protect your animals this holiday:

Eric Gay / AP photo

This week the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that had closed over half the state’s abortion clinics.

Now the question becomes, will those clinics re-open? And if so, when?

Natural Resources Defense Council / KCUR

In the wake of the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, other states began to take a look at their own water systems. And for Kansas, the news isn’t good.

As member station KCUR reports, nearly 70 water systems in Kansas have lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable levels. And those are just the systems that have reported a problem. Many may have tried to game the system to avoid alerting the feds of lead contamination.

Kaiser Health News

Over the past six years, 71 rural hospitals have closed nationwide. Another 683 are at risk of closing, reports HealthcareDive. The closure of these facilities has left many local communities depressed, with elderly and ill rural dwellers wondering where they’ll get help.


When it comes to discipline, Oklahoma schools may need some disciplining of their own. A new report from the US Commission on Civil Rights has found that Oklahoma students face a stark racial disparity when it comes to discipline, reports News 9 Oklahoma.

Public Domain

Health premiums under the Affordable Care Act could rise more next year than in previous years, according to Kaiser Health News. Premiums for one popular type of “silver” plan could rise 10 percent in 2017. This year that same plan’s cost only rose five percent. Projections are based on preliminary insurance rates filed with state regulators. These rates are still subject to federal review.

Daniel Weber / Creative Commons

Gun permit applications have skyrocketed this year in Colorado, reports Colorado Public Radio. Compared with 2015, the number of applications from people seeking to obtain a concealed weapons permit in the state has nearly doubled in 2016.


Potter and Randall Counties in the Texas Panhandle have been making incremental improvements when it comes to overall child well-being. Even so, as Amarillo.com reports, both counties continue to rank at or below average when compared with the nation at large. A new report measured child well-being in four areas: economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Texas as a whole is ranked 43rd in the nation.


The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is now in crisis mode, reports KFOR. The agency has fallen $20 million behind budget. But when you account for the fact that the agency lost out on federal Medicaid matching funds, the budget gap is more like $60 million.

Green MPS / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6 p.m. June 16.

Kansas health centers will receive more than $2.2 million to improve access to oral health care — funding that is desperately needed, according to a Kansas dental health advocate.

Topeka Capital-Journal

National rankings that show the well-being of children in all fifty states have been released, and Kansas has fallen four slots, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. While last year the state was ranked 15th, this year Kansas fell to 19th. The slip in the rankings came amid diminished performance on health and education assessments. Kansas children also showed stagnation on economic and family measures.