Health Care

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.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Sandra Garrett knew something had gone wrong inside her body a decade ago when her left hand became limp, falling from her chin and sliding down her chest. She later found a lump on her left breast and “had no idea how long it had been there.”

(via Flickr/Adam Procter)

This story will be updated. Corrected at 12:30 p.m. to reflect when the vote was taken.

Employees of the University of Missouri system will now be able to include their same-sex partner on their medical, dental and retirement plans.

The system's Board of Curators approved the benefit changes yesterday, the conclusion of an effort that began in 2011.  A couple would have to be living together for at least a year in order to be eligible.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis and St. Louis County started a promising pilot program last year to extend medical care to more of their working poor. Called Gateway to Better Health, the program offered the uninsured the chance to trade costly emergency room health care for a better-coordinated system that links people to medical providers at health centers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In correctional health care, life’s lessons are taught with a two by four.

More often than not, my patients are damaged people. And for many, their criminal accusations or convictions are the least of their problems. Many battle addiction to substances both legal and illegal. Many are mentally ill. Some are developmentally delayed. Almost all of the women, and many of the men, have experienced abuse — sexually, physically, and/or emotionally — at the hands of parents, children and other loved ones. Perfection is not an option for them; better is good enough.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has sent a letter today to like-minded groups that support the expansion of the state’s Medicaid program, saying that he plans to continue efforts “to bring the dollars Missourians send to Washington back to strengthen Medicaid in Missouri…”

Shermane Winters-Wofford
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Turkey, ham, and veggie sandwiches on whole wheat bread from Subway, along with bananas, apples and oranges, probably are not part of a typical meal after worship service at Central Baptist Church in midtown.

Following Sunday’s service, however, many from the congregation gathered in the church’s annex across the street and munched on the nutritious sandwiches and fruit. They later listened to an expert talk about the value of healthy eating and exercise in order to prevent stroke.

(via Flickr/Tax Credits)

For the first time, the federal government has released the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures.

The prices for a given procedure can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.

When it comes to health care, the biggest of the big data are all about Medicare.

So, it's kind of a BIG deal when the government releases what individual hospitals charge Medicare — and what they actually get paid — for the most common diagnoses and treatments.

In a first, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made those figures from more than 3,000 hospitals public Wednesday.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Bluelion)

Updated 10:15 a.m. March 27 to note that one building of the old Jewish Hospital complex will remain.

A planned expansion of the Barnes-Jewish medical complex could be underway later this year, now that the city has given its initial approval.

The Preservation Board last night gave BJC HealthCare the go-ahead to demolish four buildings at the corner of Kingshighway and Forest Park. They'll be replaced by nearly one million new square feet of medical space, including an addition to Children's Hospital.

Bill Greenblatt / UPI

Gov. Pat Quinn says he is taking steps to ensure Illinois has the workforce it needs to fill thousands of new health care jobs.

Quinn says the jobs will be created as Illinois implements the Affordable Care Act, which will expand health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of people.

In a press release Saturday the governor says he's directed Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck to lead a Health Care Workforce Workgroup. The group will assess and plan for the jobs needed to serve a growing and increasingly aging and diverse population.

(National Cancer Institute/Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory)

When the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its most recent data on sexually transmitted infections, the numbers once again showed bad news for St. Louis.

Chlamydia cases in the region climbed by almost 6 percent between 2010 and 2011. Gonorrhea was up 17 percent. That’s nothing new, especially in the city itself, which is consistently among the top five of infections per capita.

How do rates get so high in the first place? And how do you get them down after years above average?

Nurses Picket Outside SLU Hospital

Mar 11, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

Close to 100 nurses from Saint Louis University Hospital and Des Peres Hospital picketed in the cold outside of SLU Hospital on Monday morning, saying they are required to do too much with too little staffing and insufficient equipment.

Marchelle Bettis is an RN on the trauma unit, and works with critical victims of stabbings, shootings and accidents. She says it's hard for her and her coworkers to do their jobs appropriately with the current staffing.

(via Flickr/Jennifer Boriss)

A new report says Missouri's Medicaid costs could rise by 6.6 percent over 10 years if the state fully implements the federal health care law.

But the report also says almost half of that increase will occur even if Missouri does not expand Medicaid eligibility for adults.

The report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Urban Institute says Missouri can expect to spend an additional $1.2 billion from 2013 to 2022 as more people join the Medicaid rolls because of the federal health care law.

(via Missouri Foundation for Health)

A recently released report shows there is a disparity in health care among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Missourians.  The study by the Missouri Foundation for Health shows LGBT individuals have less access to health care and tend to be less healthy than the general population.

Pages