Alex Smith

Alex Smith began working in radio as an intern at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. A few years and a couple of radio jobs later, he became the assistant producer of KCUR's magazine show, KC Currents. In January 2014 he became KCUR's health reporter.

 

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City is leaving the federal insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. The move will affect 67,000 customers in Missouri and Kansas.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City will not sell insurance plans on the exchange starting in 2018 in its 30 county area in western Missouri plus Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. The company has lost $100 million on exchange plans.

Charlie Shields, CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City says the current debate about replacing the Affordable Care Act, has insurers really worried.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Pretty Prairie, Kansas, population 680, had a moment in the spotlight during the confirmation hearings for new Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran mentioned Pretty Prairie as an example of a community that’s struggling because of EPA regulations that Pruitt could ease.

But residents of the tiny south-central Kansas town are also concerned about how federal budget cuts might affect their ability to pay for a new water treatment system.

Alex Smith

On Tuesday, the Olathe bar shooting survivor being hailed as a hero joined the chorus of people calling on President Trump to denounce the targeting of two men because of their race.

Ian Grillot, 24, who tried to stop a gunman when he opened fire at Austins Bar & Grill last Wednesday, says he believes the shooter singled out the two Indian victims because of their ethnicity and hopes President Trump will address the incident.

On a chilly winter morning, dozens of truck driver trainees file into a classroom at the headquarters of Prime Inc., a trucking company based in Springfield, Mo.

At the front is Siphiwe Baleka, an energetic former swimming champion in his mid-40s. He delivers grim news about trucker health to the new recruits.

"If you haven't started to think about this, you need to start right now," Baleka says. "You are about to enter the most unhealthy occupation in America."

Alex Smith / KCUR

Last week’s election results stunned a lot of people who get health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress say they want to scrap the law, but what might replace it remains unknown.

That has left many Kansas and Missouri families in limbo, unsure what will become of their medical care.

Alex Smith, Heartland Health Monitor

For many people who’ve lived through oppression or violence in foreign countries, Kansas City is the promised land. Every year, hundreds of refugees resettle in the area and start new lives. But starting over has become increasingly difficult for many of these newcomers, as well as for the organizations that help them. Alex Smith, reporting for Heartland Health Monitor, has the story.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Editor’s note: A male in Wyandotte County can expect to live about seven fewer years than a male in Johnson County. A female in WyCo can expect to live nearly six fewer years than her JoCo counterpart. About 21 percent of residents of WyCo consider themselves to be in poor or fair health; fewer than one in 12 in JoCo do so.

Those are just a few of the many health disparities that sometimes make the side-by-side Kansas counties seem like different countries.

In our “Crossing To Health” series, we explore that health divide this week and looking at attempts to narrow the gap. Today’s story looks at the impact of green space on a community’s health. 

Greyerbaby, Pixabay Creative Commons

Johnson County’s high income and education levels are typically associated with health-promoting activities like exercise, preventive care and nutritious diets. But when it comes to alcohol, you might be surprised.

Alcohol abuse is more prevalent in Johnson County than in less affluent, less educated Wyandotte County next door. Yet in many ways, the burden of alcohol abuse still weighs heaviest on Wyandotte County. For our series Crossing To Health, Heartland Health Monitor’s Alex Smith looks into why that may be the case.

Alex Smith / Heartland Health Monitor

Infant death is tied to so many biological, social and behavioral issues that experts see it as a barometer of a community’s overall health. And in recent years, the infant mortality rate for African Americans in Kansas has ranked among the worst in the country.

For the latest in our series "Crossing To Health," Heartland Health Monitor’s Alex Smith explores how the fight against infant mortality has pushed experts to re-examine many of the basic assumptions about what influences health.

Alex Smith, Heartland Health Monitor

When your health acts up, the usual advice is to go to the doctor. But what if you can’t find one with time to see you? That’s the crisis looming in Wyandotte County, where the number of primary care doctors per person is less than half that of Johnson County. In this installment of our series Crossing To Health, KCUR’s Alex Smith looks at how to get more primary care in the area, particularly as demand ramps up.

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