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Take 5 For Your Health

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

Janice Smith Janice Smith, executive director of the Kansas Children's Cabinet, estimates the three programs are serving about 2,000 fewer kids following cuts to this year's budget and would serve about 125 fewer if the 5 percent cut for fiscal year 2018 moves forward. (Photo: Megan Hart | Heartland Health Monitor)
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Third Round Of Cuts Could Hit Kansas Children’s Cabinet Programs

A Saline County, Kansas mom has a message for state officials wrestling with a difficult budget: Leave an autism diagnosis program alone.

Allison, who wanted to be identified only by her first name to protect her family’s privacy, said a telemedicine program — funded in part by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet —made it easier to find out if autism was behind her 9-year-old son’s behavioral symptoms.

“It makes it nice when they can do that instead of my husband having to take off work” to take their son to a specialist in Kansas City, she said. “It was kind of shocking that they were thinking of cutting that.”

The autism diagnosis program is one of three under the Children’s Cabinet flagged for possible cuts next fiscal year. Cuts aren’t guaranteed, because the Legislature crafts the final budget, but administration officials asked Children’s Cabinet staff to submit a starting budget for fiscal year 2018 with 5 percent cuts to the autism program, a child care quality initiative and the early childhood block grant.

–Megan Hart 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 KCUR and KCPT.

Transgender Inmate In Missouri Prison Sues To Receive Hormone Therapy

An inmate serving life without parole in a Missouri prison is suing to receive therapy for gender dysphoria disorder.

Jessica Hicklin, a 37-year-old transgender woman, has been diagnosed by multiple doctors with the disorder but has been denied access to hormone therapy to treat the condition, according to Lambda Legal, an LBGT legal organization based in New York. The organization filed the lawsuit Aug. 22 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division.

Demoya Gordon, Hicklin’s attorney, says that Missouri’s “freeze frame” law prevents inmates from receiving hormone therapy if they had not received it prior to entering prison.

–Alex Smith is a reporter for KCUR

With Safety In Mind, Kansas Changes Football Practice Rules

Familiar sounds filled the air at Blue Valley Northwest High School’s first football practice of the year.

Rock music playing over the sound system. Whistles blaring. Coaches yelling instructions.

But one sound wasn’t present: helmets colliding.

That’s because the Kansas State High School Athletic Association, or KSHSAA, approved new rules last year limiting full-contact football practice.

Players aren’t allowed to go all-out until the fifth practice. Once games start, full-contact practices are limited to an hour and a half, and contact isn’t allowed the day after games.

The new rules — formed with help from the National Federation of State High School Associations Concussion Summit Task Force — are meant to reduce players’ head injuries and brain trauma that have parents increasingly asking whether football is right for their kids.

Not everyone is a fan.

“I personally don’t like the limited contact setting because you’re not allowed to go 100 percent, basically, and I just can’t play football like that,” said Garret Tierney, a senior running back and linebacker at Blue Valley Northwest in Overland Park.

–Andy Marso is a reporter with KHI News Service

Feds Say Tax Credits Should Ease Sting Of ACA Insurance Rate Hikes

A new analysis from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says headlines about anticipated premium increases on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace overlook an important point: Most Americans, including two-thirds of Kansans and three-quarters of Missourians, still will be able to find a plan for $75 a month or less.

In an issue brief on the analysis, HHS says almost 90 percent of marketplace consumers qualify for tax credits to offset rising premiums.

Katie Martin, acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at HHS, said during a media call Wednesday that the agency examined costs for a hypothetical marketplace consumer facing premium increases of 10 percent, 25 percent or even 50 percent.

–Bryan Thompson is a reporter for KHI News Service

From PBS NewsHour

The idea started at David and Alicia Blais’ dinner table: what if they could end hunger in their town? Their traveling trailer delivers meals to 200-300 people a night, motivated by the memory of their son, Daniel. Special correspondent Tina Martin of WGBH reports from Framingham, Massachusetts.

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