Natalie Krebs

Health Reporter

Natalie Krebs is the health reporter for Iowa Public Radio.

Natalie joined Iowa Public Radio in May 2019. She previously worked as an independent producer in west Texas covering everything from immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border to environmental issues in the Permian Basin.

Natalie is a native Minnesotan. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Natalie’s favorite public radio program is The World.

Ways to Connect

Mike Mozart/Flickr

Iowa has one of the highest obesity rates in the country, according new report by the non-profit Trust for America's Health.

More than 35 percent of Iowans are considered obese, making it seventh in the nation. That's significantly higher than the national rate of about 31 percent, according to the report.

wind turbine
Michael Leland/IPR

At least two dozen people expressed concerns to the Madison County Board of Supervisors Tuesday about an ordinance that would halt the construction of wind turbines for at least two years.


The proposed ordinance has come in response to concerns about potential health impacts from the turbines from the county board of health.


The board has recommended that turbines be built at least a mile and a half from houses.



A recent study by the University of Iowa found many rural Iowans may not be receiving care that meets an accrediting group’s standards.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

The Iowa Department of Public Health is asking for the public’s help in identifying cases of respiratory illnesses possibly linked to vaping after four reported cases of severe respiratory illness in young adults.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

Many small Iowa communities are facing an aging population. This is sometimes seen as an issue for communities that worry about what this could mean for their future. But Charles City is taking a different approach to this issue by working to become more senior-friendly and is making extra efforts to embrace -- and even grow -- its senior population.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

Nearly 14,000 Iowans could be affected by Planned Parenthood's decision to withdraw from a the Title X federal family planning program, which funds family planning services for low-income individuals, according to local leaders from the health clinic.


More Iowans who get their insurance through their employer are on high deductible plans, accoring to a recent report by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC).

vaping 360/flickr

Iowa is not doing enough to deter kids from using tobacco, according to a report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The annual report ranks how well states are implementing policies to reduce cancer rates.

It gave Iowa low marks in tobacco prevention funding, cigarette tax rates, Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation and indoor tanning device restrictions.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

One in eight Americans live in urban areas, but 60 percent of deaths from trauma occur in rural areas. In Iowa, most rural emergency rooms are only equipped for basic emergencies -- and have limited budgets for staff and equipment. But a course led by trauma specialists is helping small ERs prepare for big emergencies.

Natalie Krebs/IPR file photo

A Polk County judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a law that would allow organizations using public insurance dollars – like Medicaid – to opt out of covering gender-affirming surgery.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

As of this month, Iowa has a new children’s mental health system. Lawmakers have set up a system much like the adult’s mental health system to ensure there are much-needed core services for uninsured children across Iowa. But the legislation the governor signed in May came without long-term state funding and now that it’s officially in place -- one major question still looms: Who’s going to pay for it?

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR

The state of Iowa has agreed to pay an additional $386 million in state and federal dollars to the two private insurance companies that manage the state’s Medicaid program for low-income and disabled residents.

Courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse

Last year, opioid-related deaths in Iowa decreased by 33 percent, marking a five year low for the state, according to statistics released this month from the state's Department of Health Statistics.

Courtesy of UnityPoint Health

UnityPoint Health, one of the state's largest healthcare systems, has announced it is pursuing a merger with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. 

Natalie Krebs/IPR

Desire Christensen’s small office at the University of Iowa is filled with toys.

"Some of my favorite ones are my dinosaurs," said Christensen. "I was always a huge dinosaur nerd as a kid so I love these."

Ben Kieffer

The University of Iowa has received a $115 million research award -- its largest ever -- from NASA to study the interactions between the magnetic fields of the sun and the Earth. 

Natalie Krebs/IPR

This month about 420,000 Iowans on Medicaid are preparing to transition to a new managed care organization when UnitedHealthcare leaves the state on June 30. This includes nearly 40,000 special Medicaid patients that require long term-services and supports and their families. Though they make up just 6 percent of Medicaid recipients, they require a much higher level of specialized care than the general population, and this upcoming transition has left many of these people feeling anxious.

Enrique Saldivar/Flickr

Iowa has received one of the top rankings for child well-being in the state, according to the annual Kids Count Data Book released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

A senior official at the Department of Human Services testified in a federal court in Des Moines Wednesday that the state agency has been working to provide more mental health services to a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys.

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

A clinical psychologist said the use of solitary confinement and a physical restraint device at a state-run school for deliquent teenage boys "falls way outside of professional standards."

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

An official at a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys testified in federal court Monday that the use of an isolation chamber and physical restraints is for the protection, not punishment, of the students.

federal courthouse
Natalie Krebs/IPR

A state-run school for delinquent teenage boys has failed to meet professional standards for treating and screening mental illness, according to expert witness testimony during the opening day of a federal trial against the Boys State Training School in Eldora.

Natalie Krebs/IPR

This year has been a political roller coaster for the state’s transgender population. A March state Supreme Court decision overturned a ban on using state Medicaid dollars for transition-related surgery. Then lawmakers enacted a provision that would alter the Civil Rights Act so Medicaid could once again opt out of paying.

Courtesy of the ACLU

The ACLU of Iowa has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn a law that denies transgender Iowans on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery.

MedPharm's Aliviar branded medical cannabis products were on display at the MedPharm manufacturing facility in Des Moines Wednesday, October 17, 2018.
Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

Medical marijuana supporters delivered a petition with more than 1,500 signatures to Gov. Kim Reynolds' office Thursday morning urging her to sign a medical marijuana bill that would raise the state's THC cap. 

Gone Coastal/Flickr/

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has announced he is joining four other states in suing pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and its former chairman, Richard Sackler, for using unlawful practices to sell the opioid painkiller OxyContin.

planned parenthood clinic
Sarah Boden/IPR File

Planned Parenthood has taken legal action to challenge a law that blocks the organization from receiving two grants for sex education programs. The law, which was part of health budget bill passed last month, prohibits organizations that provide abortions from receiving funding for sex education. 

Nate Grigg/Flickr/

 A San Francisco based telemedicine company will provide another option for Iowa women to access birth control -- online.

Courtesy of The National Institute on Drug Abuse

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is one of 44 attorneys general who is taking part in a lawsuit alleging that 20 of the country's largest generic drug makers have conspired to inflate and manipulate drug prices.

Miller said the suit argues that executives at drug manufactures Teva, Sandoz, Mylan, Pfizer and others had an "informal working relationship" to allocate markets and rig bids for more than 100 drugs.