Health Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Care

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Missouri lawmakers pre-filed more than 500 bills over the past month that they plan to take up during the next legislative session, which begins on Jan. 7. Here’s a selection of bills related to health care that St. Louis Public Radio’s Health Desk will be keeping an eye on in 2015:   

HB 282: Consumer Rate Review on Health Insurance Plans

President and CEO, Maryann Reese, stands in front of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in downtown Belleville, IL. The current building was completed in 1954.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Update 12/16/14: St. Elizabeth's Hospital has asked the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board to delay their planned vote over the hospital's move because not all board members will not be present at their December 16 meeting. The board's next meeting is January 27, 2015.

Adrian Clark | Flickr

Medicare open enrollment, which runs through Dec. 7, gives beneficiaries an opportunity to review and change their health and prescription drug plans. On Wednesday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh sat down with Julie Brookhart, public affairs specialist for the Kansas City regional office of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to learn more about open enrollment.

Do I need to sign up for a new plan?

You don’t necessarily need to, Brookhart said, but open enrollment does provide an opportunity to compare plans.

Dr. James R. Drake with students
Provided by Saint Louis University School of Medicine

For the past 20 years, a clinic for St. Louisans who cannot afford basic health care quickly filled with patients every Saturday morning.

On many of those mornings, James R. Drake, M.D., a professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University and a general internist, supervised medical, social work and physical therapy students at the nation’s only entirely student-run free health clinic.

Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

About half of the health care workers in the St. Louis area have less than a bachelor's degree.

The number of health care workers with lower levels of education is on the rise here but for the most part, their salaries are not.

That puts the St. Louis region in line with the national trend, according to a new report released on Thursday by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program.

U.S. Supreme Court
Matt H. Wade | Wikipedia

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision may not be as big a threat to contraceptive coverage for women as it first appeared.

After a few weeks of legal sleuthing, several leading Supreme Court experts think the court has signaled it will approve a compromise to provide free contraceptive coverage to women who work for companies and religious nonprofits that object to the coverage on religion grounds.

Joseph Leahy / St. Louis Public Radio

The American Legion is looking for St. Louis-area veterans who need help getting medical services from the VA Health Care System.

The Legion has sent members from its “System Worth Saving Task Force” in Washington, D.C., to relay concerns directly from St. Louis-area veterans.

The three-person task force is meeting with the director of the local VA system today to bring up problems raised by veterans at a town hall-style meeting that it hosted Monday night, said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Division in Washington.

(Credit: Nora Ibrahim, St. Louis Public Radio Intern)

Paramedic Jaclyn Kloecker has experienced her share of tension, turmoil, rising adrenaline and blaring sirens. She's been responding to 911 calls and rushing the sick or injured to emergency rooms for 15 years. 

On a recent rainy morning, however, Kloecker wasn't responding to an emergency. Rather, she was on a calmer, quieter mission, performing medical screenings aimed at reducing the number of 911 calls that Christian Hospital’s Emergency Medical Service system handles.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Last week, people all over St. Louis – and all over the Midwest and East Coast, probably – celebrated the official start of spring. They celebrated because the winter has been unusually long and cold and, somehow, darker than usual. And they celebrated with a tinge of worry that the brutal winter could give way to an equally brutal, hot summer.

If that does happen, be prepared for a lot of talk about climate change. 

(Credit: University of Missouri Health System)

Part three of three

For someone who was clueless about what he wanted to do after finishing high school, Luke Stephens has done quite well in life. 

He’s now Dr. Luke Stephens, with a degree in cell and molecular biology from Missouri State University in 2004, and a medical degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Rodney Michael Coe
Provided by Saint Louis University

Rodney Coe, a sociologist who led Saint Louis University’s Department of Family and Community Medicine for a decade, wanted medical students to be more than healers with a great bedside manner. He wanted them to know and understand the communities they would be serving. A medical school program that bears his name made his hope a reality.

“He was very proud of that,” said his wife, Elaine Coe.

(Credit: Flickr/Free Grunge Texutres

Part two of a three-part series.

Lisa Schofield regards her business as an example of the future of health care in rural Missouri.

She owns the Theodosia Family Medical Clinic in south central Missouri, a region with a big demand for medical care and too few doctors to meet it. Theodosia is situated in Ozark County near the Arkansas border. The clinic serves about 900 patients, all of whom are treated by a nurse practitioner, or an N.P.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Steve Morgan)

Part one of a three part series:

He woke up in the middle of the night late last year, one hand swollen and the rest of his body was shaking all over.

John Redford realized the symptoms were the consequences of several bites and scratches the day before from his struggle to put the family's 40-pound cat into a cage. He managed to calm himself enough that night and drive an old Mustang 50 miles to a hospital emergency room  in Jefferson City. There doctors began weeks of  treatment  and ultimately saved Redford from losing a finger.

Saint Louis University | Provided

It’s a stretch to think about summer now. 

But close your eyes and imagine.

The sun is shining; bees are buzzing; your arms move through warm air; you even have to mop a thin veil of perspiration from your brow. And on the news in the morning, Geri Mitchell intones the familiar admonition: “It’s a red air quality day. Sensitive groups should avoid exercising outdoors.”

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried to put a price tag and a face on the government’s health reform push in Missouri when she visited the Grace Hill Water Tower Health Center on Friday. 

The price tag: $5 million a day. That’s how much she says Missouri is losing by refusing to expand its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The face: a local resident who praised the law for the help it is providing his family while he attends law school.

Blunt Offers State of the Union 'Prebuttal'

Jan 25, 2014
St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri says President Obama has "a lot of explaining to do” in his State of the Union address Tuesday.

Blunt offered a preemptive rebuttal to the speech in the GOP’s weekly radio address Saturday, saying Americans are suffering under unnecessary regulation and lackluster job creation.

Obama is expected to call for a “Year of Action” on poverty, but Blunt calls the focus on income inequality “more of the same.”

kevindooley via Flickr

The state of Missouri recovered more than $47 million in fraudulent claims made by Medicaid providers in 2013.

That's about an average year for Attorney General Chris Koster's Medicaid Fraud Unit. The office has recovered as much as $100 million, and as little as $20 million, in a year.

Koster, a Democrat, says those wide variations are triggered by how much money Missouri receives from national settlements. But even though more national settlements means more money for the state's coffers, he says the fraud that concerns him the most is conducted by the smaller providers.

Hollee Brooks
Robert Joiner/St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon

Following years of dead-end jobs in the fast-food industry, Hollee Brooks decided to trade her restaurant uniform for scrubs, and train to become a medical technician. If she makes it through nine months of training and gets state certification and some experience, she'll earn considerably higher wages and enjoy employment benefits that usually elude those who flip hamburgers for a living. 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Some years ago at a scientific meeting in Sweden, a conversation with a local resident veered toward gun policy in the United States. You have tens of thousands of gun deaths annually, my companion intoned, and the trend is to make guns easier to access so more people can have them!

This was not a casual assertion that U.S. gun policy is imperfect. It was not an invitation to explore alternatives.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Missouri Republicans in Washington and Jefferson City are standing firm in their opposition to the Affordable Care Act. They are citing the low number of Missourians who have signed up for insurance on the federal exchange as just another reason why their stance hasn’t changed -- and won't.

(Via Flickr/Rosemary)

The St. Louis-based safety-net healthcare provider ConnectCare will close its remaining facilities at the end of next week.

The Smiley Urgent Care Center, along with ConnectCare’s radiology, pharmacy, laboratory and preventative services will all close on Nov. 15.

The nonprofit organization, which served patients regardless of their ability to pay, had already discontinued outpatient specialty care and transportation services last month.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - A big challenge in health care is finding innovative ways to address the shortage of health practitioners to serve the needy. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, Mo., is focusing on the need to train more dentists who might serve patients in poor, rural communities in Missouri.

Updated on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. with details from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services blog post. 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should testify before a House committee on technical glitches surrounding Healthcare.Gov.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Sebelius asking her to testify this week. She has yet to publicly respond to the request.    

Matthew DeCuffa with a patient
Provided by Saint Louis University | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Each Tuesday evening, some of the most medically underserved residents in St. Louis gather at a clinic in the Victor Roberts Building on the north side for generous access to medical advice. The discussions focus less on pills and prescriptions and more on wellness and prevention, with primary emphasis on measures the patients can take to improve their health.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

State authorities and medical professionals are warning the public to beware of con artists seeking to take advantage of the opening of Missouri’s federally-run health care exchange next week.

Dave Dillon with the Missouri Hospital Association says scammers posing as government or health care workers may try to steal people’s identities or get their banking information while pretending to provide their victims with heath insurance.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dr. Arielle Yang, a Washington University Global Health Scholar and third-year Internal Medicine resident, says she learned the importance of primary care in a month-long rotation in a Guatemalan hospital earlier this year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The reduction of health programs at ConnectCare will go beyond important specialty medical services and will extend to the crucial transportation network that has made it possible for some patients to get treatment at the site at 5535 Delmar Blvd.

Health planners said they will be scrambling to figure out which medical systems can provide specialty care to the more than 10,000 patients being displaced by ConnectCare’s decision. The planners promise to find transportation to alternative facilities.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: More than 1,000 lucky newborns in Oklahoma are part of an experiment, coordinated by Washington University, to determine whether a college savings account at birth can change the life of a kid growing up in moderate-to-low income families.

St. Louis Beacon graphic | 2013

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There is still room for improvement, but financial penalties have turned out to be a powerful tool for persuading area hospitals to boost quality and safety.

Under the health reform law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has begun subjecting hospitals to losses of up to 1 percent of their inpatient payments for Medicare services for having higher than acceptable 30-day readmission rates for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

Sign-up for major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, begins October 1st.

With less than three months before marketplace exchanges for health insurance go online, many questions remain about who is eligible, what the requirements are and what kind of penalties people and businesses may face if they or their employees continue to be uninsured come January 2014.

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