Alex Smith

Alex Smith began working in radio as an intern at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. A few years and a couple of radio jobs later, he became the assistant producer of KCUR's magazine show, KC Currents. In January 2014 he became KCUR's health reporter.

 

A newly released database shows that Leavenworth County, Kansas, had one of the highest concentrations of opioid pills per person in the United States between 2006 and 2012.

While those numbers might suggest a hidden calamity in eastern Kansas, the vast majority of those pills were actually processed by a Veteran’s Administration fullfillment center, rather than distributed locally, according to the data.

When Porter Hall of Raymore, Missouri, was a year old, he broke out in hives after eating a spoonful of peanut butter. It led to a scary night in the emergency room and a diagnosis of peanut allergy.

But today, Porter, who’s now five, is giving peanuts another shot with the help of Kansas City doctors, who have been giving him tiny doses of peanuts over the course of months.

This oral immunotherapy treatment isn’t a cure, but doctors say these tiny exposures may help to reduce or prevent severe reactions – although some critics are warning families to consider the risks. 

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.

The Buck O’Neil Bridge just north of downtown is one of more hectic traffic spots in Kansas City, Missouri, and for Shari H, a car accident here in 2012 turned out to be life-changing.

She didn’t have any major injuries, but after days and weeks passed, she realized that her post-accident soreness wasn’t going away.

pixabay / flickr Creative Commons

A Shawnee County District Court judge has temporarily blocked an ordinance that raises the tobacco-buying age in Topeka to 21.

The ruling comes after two Topeka businesses, with the assistance of the Kansas Vapers Association, filed a lawsuit this week challenging the regulation. The ordinance was scheduled to go into effect Thursday. The businesses claim the mandate conflicts with state law, which allows the sale of tobacco to people 18 and older.

Alex Smith

A few years ago, Kansas City restaurateur Anton Kotar surveyed the local and national restaurant scenes and concluded his town’s reputation as a steakhouse paradise had slipped.

The problem, he says, is the way conventional beef is raised – bulked up with grain on feedlots, making it cheap and plentiful and changing what Americans expect to taste.

“I think some of our best steakhouses chased the quality of the beef to the bottom,” Kotar says.

Jasleen Kaur / flickr/Creative Commons

More people signed up for Obamacare in Kansas this year than last, even though the open enrollment period was cut in half.

In the enrollment period that ended last week, 98,919 people selected plans in Kansas compared with 98,780 last year.

While the increase is slight, it’s a surprise, given the reduced time period and the Trump administration’s reduced promotion efforts.

Alex Smith / Harvest Public Media

Twenty-four-year-old Kalee Woody says that when she was growing up in Bronaugh, Missouri, she saw the small town slowly fading. Businesses closed, growth stagnated and residents had to drive to other places to see a doctor.

It is a town that, like many towns in rural areas of Missouri and other Midwest and Great Plains states, is recognized by the federal government as having a shortage of health care providers.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas City is leaving the federal insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act. The move will affect 67,000 customers in Missouri and Kansas.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City will not sell insurance plans on the exchange starting in 2018 in its 30 county area in western Missouri plus Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. The company has lost $100 million on exchange plans.

Charlie Shields, CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City says the current debate about replacing the Affordable Care Act, has insurers really worried.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Pretty Prairie, Kansas, population 680, had a moment in the spotlight during the confirmation hearings for new Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran mentioned Pretty Prairie as an example of a community that’s struggling because of EPA regulations that Pruitt could ease.

But residents of the tiny south-central Kansas town are also concerned about how federal budget cuts might affect their ability to pay for a new water treatment system.

Pages