HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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


Educators in Texas are crying foul over a new legislative bill that they say unfairly harms teachers.

As KXAN reports, the bill would make it illegal for unions to automatically withdraw dues from teacher payrolls. The legislation is being proposed by Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican from Houston.

This week a large number of educators showed up at a meeting of the the Senate Committee on State Affairs. The teachers gave testimony against the legislation  for over three hours.

Republicans have been getting ready to make good on long held promises to abolish the Affordable Care Act.

If that were to happen, certain states stand to suffer more than others. The personal finance website WalletHub performed a study to determine which states will be hurt the most, should Obamacare be undone without a replacement.

States that benefited the most from the legislation stand to lose the most, and states that neglected to embrace the legislation won’t be hurt as badly because they don’t have as far to fall.


The Panhandle of Texas will soon be home to a new alcohol and drug rehabilitation center.

As KVII reports, the Amarillo Recovery from Alcohol and Drugs (ARAD) organization has plans to move into the former Bivins nursing home.

The facility holds 32 beds, and will soon house the area’s only 30-day substance abuse treatment center.

Travis Smith / Waxahachie Daily Light

Freestanding emergency clinics have proliferated across Texas in recent months. Texas is one of only three states to allow these walk-in ER clinics, including three new ones in Amarillo.

But it’s important to know the difference between these freestanding emergency rooms and traditional walk-in clinics.

The major difference, as many panhandle patients have learned the hard way, is cost.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

During the school year, nearly half of Kansas children qualify for reduced-price or free meals. To help fill the need for nutritious meals during the summer months, the Kansas State Department of Education is seeking sponsors willing to provide nutritious meals to Kansas children during the summer months.

Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

The Texas Board of Education has signed off on a state curriculum that challenges the teaching of evolution in the classroom.

As The Austin American Statesman reports, Republicans on the board voted to put language back into the state science curriculum that challenges the validity of evolution.

Creative Commons

In the past, HPPR has reported on the fact that rural America has been struggling to find enough doctors to serve its populace.

Yale Rosen

A virus more common than Zika can cause deafness, blindness, cognitive delays, and even death in babies, but an alarmingly small number of women know about it.  


Rural living has long been thought to be healthy for the body and the soul. But a new article in Healthline disputes this notion, with an essay provocatively entitled, “If You Want to Die Young, Move to Rural America.”

The truth is, when it comes to the five leading causes of death, rural dwellers lag behind inhabitants of America’s cities.

Better Business Bureau warns of new phone scam

Feb 2, 2017
Creative Commons CC0

If a telemarketer calls and asks, ‘Can you hear me,’ either hang up or avoiding saying ‘yes’ because the caller may record the response and use it to sign you up for unwanted services or products.


Health officials are urging Kansans to get flu vaccines in the wake of high levels of influenza striking most regions of the state.

As The Wichita Eagle reports, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is reporting that Kansas is now experiencing widespread influenza activity.

Tom Woodward / Flickr Creative Commons

Support for school choice appears to be gaining momentum in Texas.

At a Capitol rally last week, Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick voiced their support for funneling tax dollars to private and religious schools.

Even so, as KXAN reports, public school advocates continue to form a strong opposition to the movement. Critics have noted that the institution of school choice plans presents a potential hardship for rural students.

Mattie Hagedorn / Wikimedia Commons

Researchers say U.S. adults only get half their recommended amount of daily fiber. That can cause many of us to reach for “whole grain” breads at the grocery store.

But now, as TIME magazine reports, nutritionists are warning consumers to be careful not to get duped. Not all whole grains are created equal.

Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman

The death of an inmate at the Clements Unit outside of Amarillo is being investigated as a homicide, reports The Amarillo Globe News. The prisoner was initially taken to the medical clinic after an altercation with his cell mate, but medics who treated the man later said they believed he had been the victim of starvation and neglect.

Wikimedia Commons

An Oklahoma senator is making yet another attempt to get more money for teachers in the Sooner State. As the Palm Beach Post reports, Senator David Holt has proposed a bill that would give all Oklahoma teachers a $10,000 raise.

Last year, Holt proposed a similar bill that died in the legislature.

Then, last November, Oklahoma voters rejected a one-cent sales tax increase that would have given their teachers raises.

Deborah Cannon / Austin American-Statesman

The Texas Senate Finance Committee held its first hearing of the new session this week, and things got off to an unusual start when the subject of school funding was broached.

Republican Chairwoman Jane Nelson appointed state Sen. Larry Taylor to lead the education group, then promptly directed Taylor to forget existing school finance law. Instead, Nelson said Taylor should propose an entirely new system of funding public schools in Texas.

“Start with a clean state,” Nelson said, “and look at how to fix the system.”

Victor / Creative Commons

There are 313,000 victims of human trafficking in the state of Texas, according to a new groundbreaking study by the University of Texas. That puts the number of human trafficking victims in the state at fifty percent larger than the entire population of Amarillo. As The Austin American-Statesman reports, 80,000 of those victims are minors involved in sex trafficking.

Passport issuance delays expected through 2018

Jan 25, 2017

If you’re planning a vacation outside of the U.S. this year and are needing to either get a passport or renew one beforehand, it might be wise to start that process very soon.

As The Huffington Post reports, the U.S. State Department has issued warnings about a big increase in passport renewals and applications through 2018.

Norman Transcript

Many employers in Oklahoma have begun to push back against state cuts to higher education.

Last year, higher education funding in Oklahoma was slashed by more than $150 million. The cuts amounted to 16 percent of the overall state budget for higher ed.

Now, as the Norman Transcript reports, some Oklahoma businesses are done sitting on the sidelines.

American Life League / Flickr Creative Commons

This weekend, Texas had plans to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds in the state. But that plan was blocked late last week by a federal judge, who postponed the ruling on whether the women’s health care provider should be removed from Medicaid coverage.

The funding ouster was initially planned for this past Saturday the 21st. But, as Texas Monthly reports, a federal court now says Planned Parenthood can continue to receive funding until Feb. 21st, while the court deliberates further.


The hearing impaired, among others, can now text 9-1-1 in emergencies. 

As The Prowers Journal reports, the Prowers County Emergency Telephone Authority now offers that option as an integrated service to its 9-1-1 network and 9-1-1 equipment.

There are certain situations that call for a text to 9-1-1 rather than a call.


Convenience store employees in Oklahoma evidently make more than many of the state’s teachers.

As News 9 reports, it can take a teacher 11 years to reach the starting salary for full-time employees of the popular Oklahoma convenience store chain QuikTrip. This is despite the fact that the teachers have degrees, while the QuikTrip employees often have only a high school diploma.

Eddie Seal / Texas Tribune

Last year the Texas Department of Education drew sharp criticism for the low percentage of students who were receiving special education services in Texas, as compared to other states.

Education advocates charged that Texas had intentionally capped the number of students who could receive special education treatment in a given district at 8.5 percent of the total student population. As a result, they said students who fell outside this margin weren’t receiving the help they needed.

Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration and the GOP-controlled congress have pledged to defund Planned Parenthood this year.

As The Guardian reports, West Texas may offer a cautionary tale about what happens when the government defunds the nation’s largest women’s healthcare provider.

comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

Some superintendents in struggling Oklahoma school districts are getting hefty raises, even as the schools in their districts are scrambling to figure out how to pay their bills.

medicaldaily.com/Creative Commons

A movement has long been in the works to raise the legal smoking age to 21. But this year, as The Dallas Morning News reports, advocates for the law may actually have the political backing to accomplish their mission.


American citizens hold staggering amounts of student debt. But what many may not realize is how much of that financial obligation is owed by people who aren’t borrowing for themselves, but for their kids and grandkids.

Americans over 60 have now amassed over $67 billion in student debt. As quartz.com reports, the debt has accrued as a result of older Americans borrowing to put the younger members of their families through school.

Flap / Flickr Creative Commons

As HPPR has reported in the past, rural hospitals in the U.S. have been struggling a great deal in recent years. Many of them have closed.

This phenomenon is part of a larger trend of younger people moving to the cities and leaving rural areas with little help.

Rural hospitals have been hit hardest in states that refused to expand Medicaid or accept federal funding. These states include Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Oklahoma Watch

Last year, a caucus of teachers rose up in Oklahoma. Dozens of schoolteachers ran for public office in the Sooner State, out of frustration over low education funding levels and teacher pay.

In response, money poured into Oklahoma from out of state, funding the opposition to this so-called “Teacher Caucus.” Many of those teachers subsequently lost their races.

A growing number of health care providers are recognizing the importance of incorporating spiritual care in medicine.

As The Huffington Post reports, health care professionals are often trained to disregard spirituality and religion when dealing with patients.

Dr. Christina Puchalski is one of a growing number of medical providers bucking that trend.