Kansas News Service

The Kansas News Service produces essential enterprise reporting, diving deep and connecting the dots regarding the policies, issues and and events that affect the health of Kansans and their communities. The team is based at KCUR and collaborates with KMUW and public media stations across Kansas.

The Kansas News Service is made possible by a group of funding organizations, led by the Kansas Health Foundation. Other funders include United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, Sunflower Foundation, REACH Healthcare Foundation and the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City. Additional support comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Ways to Connect

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Rural hospitals are struggling to stay open as the communities around them shrink. Some have an average census of one or two patients a day. But one small hospital in southwest Kansas is drawing patients from a 90-mile radius. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson sat down with the administrator of that hospital to find out how his operation is growing at a time when one in three rural hospitals is at risk of closing.

K-State Wins Grant To Cover Uninsured Children

Jun 13, 2016
Kansas State University

Kansas State University has been awarded a federal grant to help get more eligible children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. The “Connecting Kids to Coverage” grant is almost a million dollars.

K-State plans to target Latino and immigrant children in four rural counties in the state. They’ll use bilingual ambassadors to help enroll kids at schools and health centers.

The Kansas grant is part of $32 million provided through a recently enacted bill to reauthorize Medicaid and CHIP.

cdc.gov

Health officials are planning a public information session in Salina later this month in response to the discovery that 30 children in Saline County have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Saline County Health Department Director Jason Tiller says the problem surfaced after several families had their children tested for lead. Anyone with more than five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is considered at risk.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas owns water storage in 14 federal reservoirs managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the storage capacity of those lakes is gradually diminishing, as topsoil from waterways and farms upstream washes into the reservoirs and settles to the bottom.

As Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, state officials recently began trying to extend the life of the eastern Kansas reservoir where the problem is most critical.

Kansas Seniors Feeling Effects Of Budget Cuts

Jun 7, 2016
Mabel Lamour/Belma/ReineMab / flickr Creative Commons

Recent cuts made to a program that helps Kansas seniors stay out of nursing homes are starting to have an impact: The cuts are forcing seniors onto waiting lists for services.

The cuts are a small part of about $80 million in reductions Republican Gov. Sam Brownback was forced to make last month. But they’re have a big impact on a program that provides care for seniors, helping them in and out of bathtubs and keeping their apartments clean.

The 11 Area Agencies on Aging that administer the program across the state have started wait-listing seniors.

New Hope For A Struggling Hospital In Southwest Kansas

May 6, 2016
Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

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

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Finding a way to balance the state budget is job one for Kansas lawmakers in the final weeks of the legislative session. But dozens of other bills remain in play, including one aimed at lowering KanCare costs by limiting patient access to expensive drugs.

Geary, Riley Counties Top Kansas Food Insecurity List

Apr 29, 2016
Feeding America

A new study of food insecurity finds some familiar patterns in Kansas. But as Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson explains, there are also a few surprises.

Every year when the County Health Rankings are published, they show southeast Kansas and Wyandotte County as having persistent problems with poverty. So it should come as no surprise that those same places have a high degree of food insecurity—defined as a lack of reliable access to adequate food.

THE HEALTH INEQUALITY PROJECT

A new study confirms that when it comes to life expectancy, income matters: The richest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest men, and the richest American women live 10 years longer than the poorest women. But the study also contains some surprises.

The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the poor in some geographical areas live nearly as long as their wealthier neighbors while the longevity gap is widening in other geographical areas.

http://www.kancare.ks.gov

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says approximately 34,000 Kansans could get treatment for mental illness or substance abuse disorders if the state would agree to expand its Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Amy Campbell is a lobbyist for the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, which represents a wide range of Kansans with an interest in mental health. She thinks coverage through KanCare might help relieve some of the pressure on the state mental hospitals.

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