KASU

Health & Science

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

The Trump administration is encouraging states to require "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer in order to keep their health insurance coverage.

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued new guidelines for states that want some adults to work in exchange for the health insurance coverage.

The Arkansas Department of Health is warning residents about a significant influenza outbreak and how best to prepare.

“In a bad flu year, it's estimated a third of the population gets the flu," says Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist who is tracking outbreak response. "In Arkansas that would be a million people." 

This influenza season, which began in early December and ends in late March, intensified over the holiday season and is shaping up to be a bad one, Haselow says.

Sending children to the principal's office has long been a traditional punishment for unruly students. But Principal Michelle Hutton at Elmdale Elementary in Springdale offers safe haven where children can talk about what's troubling them, including traumatic events.

Elmdale faculty and staff have partnered with Ozark Guidance, a regional community mental health center, to learn how to assess students struggling with trauma to provide them proper help.

 Prompted by the Phoenix scandal three years ago, a team of journalism professors and students at the University of Arkansas took a hard look at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, and they're giving it a good grade.

But the semester-long investigation does highlight two devastating trends surrounding veterans' and their quality of life.

As part of an ongoing collaboration, students and professors in the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism have teamed up with Arkansas Public Media and partner radio station KUAF to publish a series of reports and broadcast the findings.

More Arkansas Veterans Face Suicide Risk, Homelessness

Dec 19, 2017

Seated in the middle of a crowded room, David King, a homeless Army veteran, belted out lyrics to a gospel song.

 

“Oh God, you're not done with me yet,” he sang from the song “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. “I am redeemed. You set me free.”

 

Between their bites of hot dogs and chocolate chip cookies, other homeless patrons at the Seven Hills (or 7hills) Homeless Center in Fayetteville shouted at him to be quiet, but King continued.

King, 54, is one of at least 195 homeless veterans in Fayetteville, where the number of homeless vets has grown 34 percent (from 146) in 2015, according to data provided by the Community and Family Institute at the University of Arkansas.

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ATLANTA (AP) - Health officials say the Deep South is among the hardest-hit regions of the nation so far this flu season.

In its latest update on influenza activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta identifies seven states reporting widespread flu activity, and all but one are in the South: Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Virginia.

The other state reporting widespread influenza activity is Massachusetts.

The Georgia Department of Public Health says this year's flu season is likely to be a rough one nationwide.

Friday marks the end of the enrollment period for people seeking insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

What was once a three month sign up period was shortened to 45 days under the Trump administration. Jim McDonald, executive director of Enroll the Ridge in Jonesboro, said the decreased timeframe changed the approach of the Arkansas’s navigators who help people sign up for insurance.

Arkansas’s health groups are reacting to corrective statements the tobacco industry began airing on network TV in late November with some optimism that they will help reduce the state’s high smoking rate as well as concern the ads won’t reach young people.

US flu season off to an early start; widespread in Arkansas

Dec 8, 2017
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NEW YORK (AP) - This year's flu season is off to a quick start and so far it seems to be dominated by a nasty bug.

Health officials say the flu vaccine seems well matched to the viruses making people sick, but it's too early to tell how bad this season will be. The main flu bug this season tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations and vaccines tend not to work as well against this type.

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas State Medical Board has approved draft regulations aimed at reducing opioid abuse.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the board unanimously voted in favor of the regulations Thursday. The requirements are based on guidelines issued last year by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Talk Business and Politics

Health care is the big topic as open enrollment is underway across the nation for health insurance.  People without insurance from their employer can get enrolled in the marketplace.  Roby Brock with Talk Business and Politics sits down with Arkansas’ director of the marketplace Angela Lowther to learn more.


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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - State figures show that enrollment in Arkansas' Medicaid expansion program increased by 2,100 people in October.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the average monthly cost per enrollee fell by nearly $3.70 during the same month.

The figures were released on Monday by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The increase in enrollment brings the number of people in the program to almost 310,000.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas children and pregnant women who are covered by a federal health insurance program will continue to be covered until the end of March. But the plan's future after that is uncertain.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Congress hasn't reauthorized funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers more than 48,000 children and pregnant women in Arkansas. The $15 billion program covers nearly 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide.

Brandon Tabor, KASU News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission says the highest-scoring bids to become the first legal growers of medical marijuana in the state will be announced Feb. 27.

The five-member commission will receive 95 applications for one of the state's five cultivator licenses in two weeks and will review and score the applications by Feb. 20.

In addition to the 95 applications to grow marijuana, the commission received 227 applications in October to open one of 32 dispensaries where the drug will be sold to qualifying patients.

Soy has been widely accepted as a heart-healthy food for nearly two decades.  Manufacturers of packaged food products have claimed that soy protein reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, and labeled their products thusly.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t so sure and is seeking an unprecedented revocation of the authorized claim.  With an authorized claim, manufacturers get a stamp of approval from the FDA to directly state a health benefit — calcium, for instant, helps stymie osteoporosis.

The agency said a review of evidence linking soy protein to improved heart health wasn’t conclusive enough to warrant an authorized claim. 

Douglas Balentine, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, said studies have evolved since the authorized claim for soy's heart benefits was approved in 1999.

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