rural health

In voting for a $1.2 billion tax increase to bolster the budget for the next two years, the Kansas Legislature avoided a projected $900 budget hole and began restoring past cuts to the mental health system.

When evening falls, Brian Hunt makes his way to a comfortable chair in a sun room on the south side of his house near La Cygne, Kansas. But he’s not settling in to relax. He’s going to work.

Dale Denwalt / The Journal-Record

Despite a years-long crisis that has led to dozens of rural hospital closures across the U.S., there are signs of life for at least one facility in Western Oklahoma.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, after the reforms of the Affordable Care Act, Colorado’s uninsured rate dropped from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 6.7 percent in 2015 and about 500,000 people in the state gained health insurance coverage and about 400,000 people got covered through expanded eligibility of Medicaid.

NewsOK.com

According to a new study, life expectancies in some parts of Oklahoma are growing at a more rapid pace than in others.

NewsOK reports that the Oklahoma Panhandle has exhibited a marked increase in life expectancy since 1980, showing a gain of between four and five percent, one of the strongest surges in the state.

RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post

Colorado Republicans have now pulled the plug on a bill that sought to repeal the state’s health care exchange, reports The Denver Post.

Meanwhile, rural hospitals received a bit of good news. The Colorado Legislature has passed a bill preventing $528 million in cuts to hospital funding. Some conservative lawmakers opposed the bill, as they say it will only lead to more spending and debt. Instead, they said the measure should have gone to the voters.

AgWeek

In an opinion piece this week, the editorial board of the weekly agricultural newspaper AgWeek insisted that rural health care has reached a dire state, and must be addressed now.

When it comes to heath care, writes AgWeek, “the worry is greater today than it's ever been.” Hospitals have been closing across rural America at a troubling pace. Many agriculturalists have taken jobs away from the farm, just so they can have health care.

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.

healthline

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.

Dodge City Medical Center (DCMC ) will join clinics in Garden City and Ulysses as a partner of Colorado-based Centura Health.

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.

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.

www.pewtrusts.org

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.

ivn.us

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.

Gallup/CDC / WaPo/Wonkblog

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

Rachel Aston / Las Vegas Review Journal

Over the past six years, 76 rural hospitals have closed in America. That’s one and a half per state. That’s left many rural residents without recourse if they’re injured or become seriously ill.

The Washington Post

Middle-aged white women—especially in rural areas—continue to die at a much faster rate than many other groups.

Rural Blog

More than 80 percent of rural counties without a city of 10,000 or more people—lack psychiatrists, according to a new study.

These counties are called “non-core counties,” and they are in dire need of mental health care. Non-core counties average less than four psychiatrists for every 100,000 people. Compare that with more 17 psychiatrists per 100,000 in metropolitan areas.

Rural Blog

When it comes to mental health and veterans, rural soldiers are less likely to receive help than their urban counterparts, reports The Rural Blog.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

In many rural areas, maintaining mental health can sometimes come down to finding a ride.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, Transportation is often a barrier for rural dwellers seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.

Kansas Hospital Association

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan for hospitals has come under fire from a prominent member of the Kansas health community.

Rural Blog

Nearly half of the counties in the United States lack an obstetrician or gynecologist, reports The Rural Blog. Most of these counties are rural.

Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Colorado is rated as America’s leanest state. But that honor seems to stem from the health attitudes of some of the wealthier parts of the state. In towns like Pueblo, obesity is a real problem. Pueblo’s obesity rate reached 30% in 2014. That’s nine percent higher than the state average.

Pixabay / Creative Commons

A company that delivers blood and medicine using drone technology is looking to expand its operations across the US, reports Consumerist.com. This could be great news for many Americans who live in rural and hard-to-reach areas.

MPR

The risk of HIV outbreaks in rural and suburban communities has increased in recent years. The rise can be attributed to the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the US, reports EMPR.com. When rural residents are forced to share syringes, transmission of HIV increases rapidly.

bikeprairiespirit.com

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.

insidehighered.com

The United States is facing an increasing doctor shortage in the near future. But rural medical schools may be the answer, reports InsideHigherEd.com. Over the next nine years, the country will be short as many as 95,000 doctors, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts.

New hope for a struggling hospital in southwest Kansas

May 12, 2016
Bryan Thompson / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A southwest Kansas hospital on the verge of having to close its doors appears to have a new lease on life, thanks to a recent management contract with an Oklahoma company.

Center for Rural Affairs

In recent decades American life expectancies have been increasing. At least, that’s true for most of us. But for rural Americans, the story’s a bit different. According to The Center for Rural Affairs, new research shows a reversal of the life-expectancy trend for some Americans in out-of-the-way areas. If you’re rich, the data shows, it doesn’t matter where you live. But if you’re poor, where you live can determine how long you live.

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