Vaping, Medicaid and Opioids—Top Health Stories Of 2019

An Indianapolis boxing class helps people get through their grief.

An Indianapolis boxing class helps people get through their grief.

Carter Barrett/Side Effects Public Media

A wide range of healthcare issues drew headlines in 2019, disrupting the lives of millions of Americans. Here are some highlights from Side Effects Public Media's coverage across the Midwest:

Vaping. In the second half of the year, this crisis exploded onto America's consciousness. Hundreds of people were stricken with lung illnesses, and dozens of deaths were recorded. Side Effects told the story of a Kntucky woman who lapsed into a coma. But beyond the medical concerns, Americans struggled to address the problem. For example, schools debated whether to handle vaping as an issue of discipline or public health.

Opioids. As the crisis continued to ravage America -- and governments sought compensation from drug makers -- communities searched for creative solutions. In Kentucky, new programs helped grandparents and others who were caring for the children of mothers and fathers struggling with addiction. In Indiana, a group handled their grief in an unusual way: by boxing in a small gym. And a Side Effects investigation highlighted the questionable claims of a therapy touted as a sure-fire way to overcome addiction. 

Medicaid. States in the Midwest continued to wrestle with the health insureance program aimed mainly at low-income residents. In Kentucky, a new governor rejected a plan for work requirements. In Indiana, work requirements were challenged in court, prompting the state to put the idea on hold. But Missouri doubled down on limiting Medicaid expenses, knocking thousands of people off the program.

Measles. Meanwhile, measles continued to pop up around the Midwest, triggering fears of an out break at major events such as the Kentucky Derby. Parents worried about the impact on children with compromised immune systems, and some doctors vowed to drop patients who refused vaccinations. 

Access. Side Effects highlighted problems in the U.S. healthcare system, including rural hospital closings and the many barriers faced by refugees and other immigrants. We also focused on high rates of maternal and infant mortality among African-Americans. 

Story source: Side Effects