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Take 5 For Your Health

A Quick, Clickable Roundup Of Health News From Our Region — And Beyond — For The Third Week Of September

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded a $1.5 million grant to the University of Kansas to help Kansans with disabilities. (Photo: David Goldman | AP)
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KU Researchers Aim To Improve Health Of Kansans With Disabilities

University of Kansas researchers plan to use a $1.5 million federal grant to help Kansans with disabilities catch up to their non-disabled peers in several health categories.

Jean Hall, director of KU’s Institute for Health and Disability Policy Studies, will lead a team of partners from nonprofit organizations and government agencies to improve physical activity, nutrition and oral health for Kansans with disabilities.

Kansas is one of 19 states to get the grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 Andy Marso is a reporter with KHI News Service, an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute, and a partner in Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration that also includes KCPT and KCUR.

Topeka Hospital To Close Two Clinics

Stormont Vail Health of Topeka, Kansas, is closing two regional clinics because of financial pressures created by recent cuts in Medicaid reimbursements and the decision by state leaders not to expand the health care program.

Stormont will close Cotton O’Neil clinics in Lyndon and Alma, according to a news release issued Thursday. The Lyndon clinic will close Dec. 31. The clinic in Alma will close Jan. 31, 2017.

“We want the people of Lyndon and Alma, and the surrounding area, to know that this decision was not made lightly,” said Randy Peterson, Stormont’s chief executive officer. “However, the current 4 percent Medicaid cuts, which totaled $3 million in reduced reimbursements for Stormont Vail Health, along with the impact of the state’s failure to expand Medicaid makes it difficult to continue to fund these community clinics.”

— Jim McLean is executive editor of KHI News Service

Praeger: Problems Driving Insurance Companies From ACA Marketplace Are Fixable

Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says members of Congress should set aside partisan differences and fix problems with the Affordable Care Act.

Failing to do so, she warns, could hasten consideration of a single-payer system.

Praeger, a Republican who crossed party lines while in office to support the ACA, says the problems that  are causing some insurance companies to pull out of the online health insurance marketplace are fixable.

“There are some things that could be done if we could get Congress to be willing to come to the table to try to solve problems,” Praeger said during a luncheon speech Wednesday at the Topeka YWCA. “That really hasn’t been the case now for a few years. But they could fix it.”

— J.M.

Kansas Mental Health Centers Face New Budget Realities

After a series of hits to their budgets, community mental health centers in Kansas are adjusting through cutbacks, changes in services or a combination of the two.

In Topeka, Valeo Behavioral Health Care plans to limit sessions for uninsured patients. Valeo provided about $2 million in charitable care last year but can’t offer that much this year because of cuts to Medicaid and other revenue streams, CEO Bill Persinger says.

The center won’t turn anyone away, but patients who don’t have a form of insurance covering mental health care may receive fewer therapy sessions than in the past, he says.

— Megan Hart is a reporter with KHI News Service

From PBS NewsHour

Suicide is now the nation’s tenth-leading cause of death, and the second-leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-34 years old. Top suicide researchers are developing new technological tools to help predict who is most at risk and save lives. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Alison Stewart reports.

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