Health Care | St. Louis Public Radio

Health Care

Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University joins Wednesday's program.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Much of the conversation about contemporary American health care revolves around money more than actual medicine. But given the crushing costs associated with seemingly every aspect of the industry, that focus isn’t so surprising.

As Dr. Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University notes in his newly published book, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Healthcare — And How To Fix It,” one in five Americans currently has medical debt in collections.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Makary joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about his research into why costs are skyrocketing — and what can be done to redesign the broken U.S. health care system.

Patricia Powers went a few years without health insurance and was unable to afford regular doctor visits. So the Missouri resident, who lives near St. Louis, had no idea that cancerous tumors were silently growing in both of her breasts.

Iron County Medical Center in Pilot Knob is at risk of closing. The USDA is opposing its plan to emerge from bankruptcy.
Iron County Medical Center

Across the country, people who live in rural areas are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer than city dwellers, according to a new study published in the Journal of Rural Health.

Patients living in counties far from populated cities and suburbs were 1.23 times more likely to be diagnosed with non-curable, stage 4 colon cancer than people living in urban areas, according to the research. That’s despite rural residents having lower rates of developing the disease.

Treatment outcomes are also worse for rural patients, with various studies finding they have an 8% to 15% greater chance of dying from colon cancer.

Health Care: See Where The 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand

Sep 10, 2019

Health care helped propel Democrats to victory in a wave of elections in 2018, and it remains a top issue for voters heading into 2020.

But the conversation has changed over two years; while in the last midterms health care debates revolved around protecting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after GOP attempts to repeal it, presidential candidates ahead of 2020 are focusing more on overhauling the entire health care system.

Provided | Tarlton

A new building at St. Louis Community College will help the region address a shortage of nurses and other health care professionals. 

The college officially opened its new Center for Nursing and Health Sciences on Friday. The $39 million facility is the first new building on the Forest Park campus in 20 years. 

The four-level, 96,000-square-foot building includes simulation labs, classrooms, a teaching area, a dental clinic and a functioning operating room.

Missouri workers providing care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make less than a Walmart or Target worker, even after a pay increase that went into effect last month. 

The low pay is the main reason about half of Missouri workers quit each year, according to Missouri Developmental Disabilities Division Director Val Huhn.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2009 - Gov. Jay Nixon struck a bipartisan tone in his first state-of-the-state address Tuesday night, promising to balance the budget, boost Missouri's sluggish economy, and make some investments in social programs that were part of his campaign promises.

In his speech, Nixon did single out some spending priorities. They included familiar themes from his campaign: early childhood education, job retraining programs and health coverage for the uninsured.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 7, 2009 - As the debate over health care heats up, the Beacon asked area members of the House and Senate where they stand at this time. Specifically, the Beacon asked:

Susan Benigas (at left) and Ghaida Awwad talked about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

There is a movement growing among health advocates to better understand how more nutritious food can help combat chronic illnesses and pharmaceutical drug dependency. Susan Benigas of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and The Plantrician Project and local nutritionist Ghaida Awwad of Nature’s Clinic, based in O’Fallon, Missouri, are among those advocates.

Guest host Ruth Ezell of the Nine Network talked with Benigas and Awwad about what prompted their interest in using food as medicine on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Health care advocates in Kansas and Missouri are hopeful that 2019 will be the year that hundreds of thousands of people can get health care coverage through expansion of Medicaid.

It’s been blocked in both states by Republicans who question the price tag, but now that many states have had expanded Medicaid for several years, there’s a small but growing body of evidence about its actual costs.

Jennifer Ludden | NPR

Controversial changes to Missouri's home health-services program by former Gov. Eric Greitens and the Republican-controlled legislature saved one fourth of the $43 million lawmakers had expected, according a state audit.

The Republican governor and state lawmakers didn’t take rising costs and sicker patients into account, concluded the report from State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat. 

Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley campaign in the St. Louis region on Oct. 29, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio

As Missouri’s nationally-watched Senate race enters the final few days, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and GOP challenger Josh Hawley focused Monday on their core campaign messages as they stumped in St. Louis.

For Hawley, it was voting for President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees. And for McCaskill, it was protecting key health care benefits in the Affordable Care Act.

Missouri Speaker of the House Todd Richardson listens to representatives speak on the last day of the legislative session.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson will leave the Statehouse to oversee management of the state’s low-income health-insurance program.

Gov. Mike Parson on Monday appointed Richardson, 41, director of MO HealthNet. The appointment will take effect Nov. 1, about two months before Richardson's term in the House was to end.

Attendees receive informational materials at the 2017 community health fair, organized by 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis

The organization 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis will host its 16th annual community health fair this weekend.

The event, held at Harris-Stowe State University, will feature a range of free health screenings for all ages, including blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing and vision tests. Organizers say the goal is to encourage community members to think more about their own health and wellness.

Boxes are piled high in Anne Hickman’s hallway. Family photos peek out from behind the stacks in her one-bedroom Indianapolis apartment.

Wash U’s Adia Harvey Wingfield is the 2018 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Public Understanding of Sociology Award.
Sean Garcia

Race, gender, work and inequality form the core of sociologist Adia Harvey Wingfield’s research – and her latest study focuses on the intersection of those topics within the medical field.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, in conversation with St. Louis Public Radio contributor John Larson, the Washington University professor of sociology discussed her recent observations of the experiences of black workers in health care.

Washington University announced a medical apprenticeship program, which will teach medical assistants to draw blood and do other clinical tasks.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Washington University has announced it will begin hiring apprentices this fall to work as medical assistants in clinics in the St. Louis region.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job learning with more traditional instruction. The university’s announcement reflects the growing popularity of such programs in the health care industry.

Geneticist and lead Cancer Genome Atlas scientist Li Ding
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis reached a new milestone in cancer research this month with the completion of a comprehensive analysis of the molecular underpinnings of the causes of the disease.

The National Institutes of Health funded the PanCancer Atlas project, more than a decade in the making. Biologists from more than two dozen institutions analyzed DNA from 11,000 cancer patients with 33 major types of the disease, including breast and pancreatic cancer.

The analysis is part of a larger NIH initiative called the Cancer Genome Atlas.

Caitlyn Kalmer, 7, works on her model of the brain during the Little Medical School after-school program at Stanton Elementary School in Fenton.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Splinters and paper cuts? No. Broken bones? Yes, that’s more worthy of a trip to the hospital. So goes a first-aid lesson for a first-grader.

Treating bumps and scrapes is the first lesson of Little Medical School, a St. Louis County-based company that introduces young learners to health and science.

 Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Mercy Health has plans to open 10 primary care offices in the south St. Louis metro area over the next two years. 

That's in addition to the nearly 20 urgent care centers the system plans to open during the same period throughout the St. Louis region in partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care. The locations of the primary care offices have not been determined yet, but they will open in south St. Louis County, northern Jefferson County and in the Columbia and Waterloo areas of Illinois.

Missouri and Kansas have joined 18 other states in seeking to have the Affordable Care Act declared unconstitutional following Congress’ repeal last year of the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate.

In a lawsuit filed late Monday in federal court in Texas, the coalition of 20 mostly red states claimed that the elimination of the tax penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance renders the entire healthcare law unconstitutional.

Mary Jo and Matt Trokey had their daughter, Taylor Rose baptized in December 2017.
Saint Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church

The mother of a south St. Louis woman believed to have shot her infant, her husband and herself this month says that her daughter suffered from postpartum depression.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Polly Fick told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday. “But because of her background and working as a social worker, I think she was of the opinion that she could handle things.”

GlobalSTL

A partnership with Washington University is bringing another Israeli startup to St. Louis.

MDClone is working with researchers at the Institute for Informatics at Washington University School of Medicine. As part of the agreement, Wash U will be the first institution outside of Israel to have access to MDClone’s health care data platform. The platform offers a solution to a key issue in health care: how to conduct research while protecting patient privacy.

A police officer speaks to a woman after an October 2016, shooting.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After 205 people died from gun violence in St. Louis last year, the city's research universities and hospitals decided to take steps to reduce such deaths. Police data show there have been 10 homicides in St. Louis this year so far. 

The St. Louis Area Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program, to begin this summer, will employ medical treatment and therapy to reduce deaths and new injuries among gunshot, stabbing and assault victims.

Washington University, Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis will collaborate on the effort. The medical centers involved include Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

Des Peres Hospital
Des Peres Hospital via Facebook

Chesterfield-based St. Luke's Hospital is buying Des Peres Hospital from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare Corp. for an undisclosed price.

The deal includes physician practices and other operations in St. Louis. It will strengthen the hospital's network and help patients, St. Luke's President and CEO Christine Candio said.  St. Luke's has 3,800 employees and will add 650 more with the acquisition.

"It was an opportunity for us, we felt strongly, to further grow our footprint and really expand our health ministry into communities where we do not have a strong presence," Candio said.

Gerrie Gibson, left, has worked for Christian Care Home for 19 years.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio.

Workers for a Ferguson nursing home are three weeks into a strike over claims of unfair labor practices. Now, they’re receiving letters from the administrator of the Christian Care Home, telling them they’re being replaced.

In a Dec. 19 letter, administrator Donna Cooper told workers they would have preferential hiring status when there are vacancies if they choose to return. That shocked union nurse Ruby  Crymes, who sits on the bargaining committee. 

“We feel like they’re playing games with our lives,” Crymes said. “We even offered to go back with no raise now, with something on the back end six months later and they didn’t even accept that.”

About 1,000 people die in U.S. jails every year. Half of deaths are due to illness, according to federal statistics.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirletta Chambly has lost two family members in St. Louis jails: First her brother, and then her 21-year-old son.

Maleek Coleman-Chambly died after a seizure in his bed at the St. Louis City Justice Center on Jan. 31, 2017. Family members claim he told them over the phone that jail personnel had refused to give him his epilepsy medication the night before.

Medical assistant Raquis Tyler, Dr. Heidi Miller and nurse Cindi Boehm discuss treatment plans for patients at Family Care Health Centers in St. Louis.
File photo | Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again, people who don’t get health insurance through their job are logging into online market places set up by the Affordable Care Act to buy it on their own. This year, the enrollment season is shorter —  six weeks — but business is brisk.  

In the first four weeks of this year’s enrollment season, 78,676 Missourians enrolled in a plan, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s about 17,000 more people than were signed up during the same period last year.  

In Illinois, the four-week total was 95,434, up from 68,198 in 2016.

5 Points To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Health Insurance This Year

Oct 31, 2017

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Sidney Watson, the Jane and Bruce Robert Professor at Saint Louis University’s Health Law Policy Center
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, Don Marsh talked with Saint Louis University health law professor Sidney Watson about the just released 2018 premiums for policies through the Affordable Care Act and discuss how Missourians and St. Louisans will fare.

This Behind the Headlines discussion was a follow-up to a conversation about what's happening with healthcare in the United States.

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