Kaiser Health News covers health care in the Midwest out of our bureau in St. Louis.

As Overdoses Soar, More States Decriminalize Fentanyl Testing Strips

Georgia may soon join a growing list of states decriminalizing the use of fentanyl testing strips. Bans of the strips — on the books in about half of states, experts say — stem from laws criminalizing drug paraphernalia adopted decades ago. But the testing devices are now recommended to help prevent overdose deaths.

Downsized City Sees Its Health Care Downsized as Hospital Awaits Demolition

A 124-year-old hospital in a midsize Rust Belt city in Indiana will soon be torn down, despite protests from residents and city officials decrying the loss of local health services. The Catholic hospital system said it is downsizing the 226-bed hospital because of a lack of demand for inpatient care, as the organization has been building new hospitals in wealthier suburbs.

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Finally, a Fix for the ‘Family Glitch’

President Joe Biden welcomed former President Barack Obama back to the White House this week to announce a new policy for the Affordable Care Act that would make subsidies available to more families with unaffordable employer coverage. Meanwhile, Congress struggled to find a compromise for continued federal funding of covid-19 vaccines, testing, and treatments. Tami Luhby of CNN, Shefali Luthra of The 19th, and Jessie Hellmann of CQ Roll Call join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss these issues and more.

Pandemic Funding Is Running Out for Community Health Workers

Illinois used federal pandemic money to hire community health workers who connect people with food banks and rental assistance programs, just like public health officials have long hoped to do. What will happen to the community trust that has been built up when the federal money runs out and the workers disappear?

Missouri Takes Months to Process Medicaid Applications — Longer Than Law Allows

Missouri has more people waiting to have their Medicaid applications processed than it has approved since the expansion of the federal-state health insurance program. Although most states process Medicaid applications within a week, Missouri is taking, on average, more than two months. Patient advocates fear that means people will stay uninsured longer, leading them to postpone care or get stuck with high medical bills.