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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas legislative committee has voted to outlaw an abortion procedure that opponents call "savage" and "barbaric" while others deem it the safest way to end a pregnancy in the second trimester.

The proposal by a legislator who is president of Arkansas Right to Life would ban dilation and evacuation, also known as a D&E abortion. The measure passed the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee on a voice vote Thursday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Pulaski County Circuit judge approved paying $29.1 million from a lawsuit settlement fund to more than 21,000 Marlboro Lights users and their attorneys.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2iIDrgI) reports the $45 million settlement fund was set up to end a 13-year-old lawsuit alleging that Philip Morris USA and parent company Altria Group misled smokers in Arkansas by advertising Marlboro Lights and Ultra-Lights were safer than regular cigarettes.

The Department of Human Services has virtually erased a backlog of Medicaid eligibility cases that had reached 140,000 people earlier this year, Director Cindy Gillespie said in a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday (Jan. 11).

As of Dec. 30, there were 692 overdue cases. Some individuals’ applications dated back to 2014.

“Based on a review of the remaining cases, all individuals have coverage and the only work that remains is simply clean-up of case files,” wrote Gillespie, who began working in her position in March.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Some Republican lawmakers in Missouri are proposing to overhaul the state's Medicaid system without waiting for President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress to act first.

A Senate committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would direct the state Department of Social Services to seek a "global waiver" from federal Medicaid requirements to remake the state's program.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission says it will allow 32 dispensaries to be evenly distributed among the state's four congressional districts.

With President-elect Trump and a Republican Congress expected to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Arkansas hospital officials are watching the situation with a great deal of uncertainty.

Almost 11 percent of Arkansans – about 325-thousand people – now have coverage through an exchange set up through the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas officials say the number of mumps cases in the northwest part of the state appears to be leveling off.

The Arkansas Department of Health says there were 2,400 confirmed or strongly suspected cases as of Jan. 5. State epidemiologist Dr. Dirk Haselow says there are about 10 new cases of mumps per day. According to Haselow, health officials were seeing 40 or 50 new cases a day at the height of the outbreak.

Mumps symptoms can include fever, aches and swollen salivary glands.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The lawyers who secured a $45 million settlement for Marlboro Lights smokers in Arkansas have asked a judge to decide how much they should be paid.

The lawyers didn't ask for a specific amount in their payment petition last month, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/2iQBov5 ) reported. But they said there is precedent that would allow them between $12.4 million and $30 million from the settlement fund, based on the value a judge places on their representation.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The stakes confronting Republicans determined to dismantle President Barack Obama's health care law were evident in one recent encounter between an Ohio congressman and a constituent.

"He said, 'Now you guys own it. Now fix it. It's on your watch now,'" recalled GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, chairman of a pivotal health subcommittee. "And this is a supporter."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — More than 300 people from law enforcement, medicine and other specialties gathered in Memphis for the Heroin and Opioid Training Summit to discuss growing use of the drugs.

Media outlets report that the summit, organized by the U.S. Attorney's Office of West Tennessee and held Tuesday at the Bass Pro Pyramid, was the first of its kind in Memphis. U.S. Attorney Ed Stanton says the purpose of the summit was to share information among the disparate groups represented and discuss options to combat the problem.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Planned Parenthood officials in Missouri asked a federal judge Monday to block abortion regulations so four additional clinics can offer the procedure during a legal battle over the laws that anti-abortion activists have called "flabbergasting" and "dangerous."

Leaders of Missouri's Planned Parenthood centers want U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs to temporarily block state abortion laws the organization's leaders say have led to limited access to the procedure.

Arkansas's newly appointed medical marijuana commissioners are slated to hold their first meeting Monday at 2:00 p.m. The five-member commission was appointed last week to help facilitate the licensing and regulation of dispensaries and cultivation centers as outlined by the voter-approved Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment.

Students in four Arkansas school districts could help shape the future of medicine in the state.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Department of Education are partnering to pilot a telemedicine program in Jasper, Lee County, Malvern, and Magazine School Districts. The four districts were chosen partly because they have existing school-based health centers.

Tina Benton with the UAMS Center for Distance Health says the program is designed to reach students in rural parts of the state.

Arkansas voters approved medical marijuana earlier this month and the governor says he’s open to seeing if the voter-approved tax structure should be changed in January’s legislative session. Speaking to reporters at the state Capitol on Monday, Governor Asa Hutchinson said he hasn’t yet made up his mind on new taxes or shifting where marijuana revenue should go.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

Future social workers are being challenged to work with lawmakers to make healthcare more available for residents living in rural Arkansas.  The challenge was issued to attendees of the 4th annual Health Disparities Conference at Arkansas State University.  The theme of the conference was “Bridging the Gap Between Health Disparities in the Delta.” 

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

What do California, Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana have in common with Arkansas this election season?  In those states, voters will decide on issues revolving around marijuana.  Voters in Arkansas, Florida, North Dakota, and Montana will specifically decide on the medicinal uses for the cannabis plant. 

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

The Arkansas Supreme Court in a 5-2 opinion has disqualified the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act – Issue 7 – from the November ballot, with the majority opinion saying the act sponsors “failed to meet the constitutional requirements” related to the signature gathering process.

A new Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey shows that opposition remains stronger than support for two medical marijuana proposals that will be on the November ballot.

The poll, conducted statewide among 463 likely Arkansas voters on October 21, 2016, has a margin of error of 4.6%.

Johnelle Shaw is a 27-year-old first-time mother with a two-month old son, Logan. She is visiting a lactation consultant at The Pulaski County Health Unit in Southwest Little Rock. Logan has a cold and is back for a breastfeeding check-in.  The consultant weighs him in at 7.6 ounces, a full pound bigger than he was at his last visit a month before.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment survived an Arkansas Supreme Court challenge in an opinion issued Thursday, but the court pulled an amendment that would allow casino operations in three Arkansas counties.

Dr. Amy Pearce

The 3rd annual Arkansas Science Festival is the state's only science festival.  It is a two week event meant to be a celebration of science.  Dr. Amy Pearce is professor of psychology at Arkansas State University and the festival's organizer.

"The goal is to bring people to our events where they can have fun,"  said Pearce.  

Pixabay

Sexual assault and domestic violence crimes are on the rise across the nation, and Arkansas is no exception. 

Around the start of the Fall 2016 semester, A-State students were alerted of a sexual assault incident that took place on campus, which had many shaken up.  In the wake of the incident, KAIT reported that the victim of the incident along with students will hold a gathering to raise more awareness of the crime.

Funding cuts for mental health services through Medicaid are taking effect October 1, despite a last-ditch effort at the state legislature Friday to walk back a change that some say could have dire consequences.

The cuts, finalized last week, would limit group therapy length from an hour and a half to an hour and set a cap of 25 counseling visits per year for Medicaid recipients who might otherwise go every week.

The vote to revisit the decision failed to gain two thirds from the Arkansas Legislative Council Friday morning.

Arkansans are being asked to spend the week of September 26-30 feeding themselves on no more than $4 dollars per day to better understand food insecurity in the state.

What used to be known as food stamps is now the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. In Arkansas, qualified low-income individuals receive an average of $3.74 per day from SNAP to help them afford groceries.

Arkansas’s Legislature took a step toward its pledge to trim $835 million from the state’s Medicaid budget over five years today when it voted to limit group therapy for about 10,000 low-income Arkansans from 90 minutes to 60 minutes, 25 times a year.

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