Kansas News Service

KMUW's Kansas News Service reports on health, education and politics across the state. The service is a collaboration between KMUW, KCUR and Kansas Public Radio.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Members of Gov. Sam Brownback’s Rural Health Working Group have their work cut out for them.

Representatives of the state’s hospitals and doctors briefed Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Colyer and other members group Tuesday night at its first meeting.

The Kansas Hospital Association’s Melissa Hungerford says many rural providers are being hit hard by the combination of older and sicker patients, the lack of Medicaid expansion and declining Medicare reimbursements.

Decoding The Kansas Caucuses

Feb 19, 2016
donkeyhotey / Flickr / Creative Commons

Kansas hasn’t held a presidential primary election since 1992. State officials say the estimated $2 million price tag is just too high. Instead, Republicans and Democrats across the state gather in convention centers, schools and churches for caucuses. Ahead of the March 5 caucuses, KMUW’s Sean Sandefur explains how this complicated system works.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

A recent report credits the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for helping to reduce the racial and ethnic inequalities in health insurance coverage. But Kansas has not made as much progress as other states. Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson investigates why—and what can be done about it.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Steve Feinstein was superintendent of Osawatomie State Hospital from 1994 to 1998. He has a Ph.D. in psychology and got involved in mental health issues when he was hired to run a state mental hospital in eastern Oregon.

Although he’s retired now, the Louisburg, Kansas, resident continues to pay close attention to what’s going on at Osawatomie, one of two state-run hospitals for the severely mentally ill. In a recent interview, he spoke to Dan Margolies about the Kansas hospital’s slew of recent troubles.

Wikipedia

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, Kansas Republicans will pick presidential candidates in the March 5 caucus.

In a statement, Brownback called Rubio a “true conservative who can unite the party.”

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

A bill that would prohibit minors from using commercial tanning beds that was stopped two years ago appears to be on its way to passing out of a Kansas House committee.

The bill appears to have the votes to pass out of the House Health and Human Services Committee despite testimony against it from Joseph Levy.

Levy is a lobbyist for the tanning industry. He says the American Cancer Society and other supporters of the bill are overstating the dangers of indoor tanning.

“The case that’s been made goes well beyond the facts," Levy says.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

Amy Holdman has a cautionary tale for Kansas lawmakers. The 41-year-old mother of two from Overland Park will be in Topeka today to speak in favor of a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using ultraviolet tanning beds.

Holdman has had three surgeries in just the last year to remove melanoma skin cancers from her arms.

She and her doctors believe that her frequent use of tanning beds as a teenager and young adult is the likely cause.

Phil Cauthon for KHI News Service

After weeks of speculation about the future of the Osawatomie State Hospital, state officials say they will attempt to regain its federal certification. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, safety and security issues prompted federal officials to decertify the state’s largest mental health hospital in December.

A failed inspection and security lapses underscored by the sexual assault of a hospital worker by a patient led to the decertification and the suspension of federal Medicare payments.

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.

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