Kansas Public Radio stories

The KHI News Service is teaming with Kansas Public Radio to produce regular coverage of state health issues. KPR and KHI reporters collaborate on Morning Edition segments that explain the nation’s new health reform law and the continuing controversy about it, as well as other health-related issues in Kansas. Those segments are primarily the work of KPR Health Reporter Bryan Thompson (left), KHI’s Jim McLean (right) and KPR News Director J. Schafer.

Following are selected pieces that aired on KPR as part of that collaboration:


Switch to KanCare complicates Medicaid fraud detection (Sept. 2, 2014)

Kansas’ privatization of Medicaid appears to producing an unintended consequence. It has complicated Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s efforts to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.
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Switch to KanCare complicates Medicaid fraud detection


Learn more about Bruffett's background (Aug. 29, 2014)

Kari Bruffett, the newly confirmed secretary of the Department for Aging and Disability Services, has a professional background that includes a mix of policy and politics.
Related story
Bruffett confirmed as KDADS chief


KanCare questions persist (Aug. 28, 2014)

In January of 2013, Kansas turned the management of its $3 billion Medicaid program over to three big, for-profit companies and renamed it KanCare. At the time, Gov. Sam Brownback said privatizing Medicaid would both reduce costs and improve the care provided to low-income, disabled and elderly Kansans. More than a year after KanCare’s launch, questions remain about how well it’s working.
Related story
KanCare payment delays threaten rural hospital


Overuse of Antipsychotic drugs endangering Kansas nursing home patients (Aug. 27, 2014)

Kansas is falling behind other states in one important measure of nursing home quality. Potentially dangerous anti-psychotic drugs are being used to control the behavior of too many patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
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Overuse of antipsychotic drugs in some Kansas nursing homes endangering patients


Conservative groups fail to unseat moderate Republicans (Aug. 6, 2014)

Buried deep inside Tuesday’s primary results is evidence of a bruising fight between the conservative and moderate wings of the Kansas Republican Party. And unlike the last time, this year’s primary battle appears to have been won by the moderates.
Related story
Effort to unseat moderate House Republicans comes up short


GOP groups target Kansas moderates over ACA (Aug. 1, 2014)

The controversial federal health reform law is once again a factor in Kansas legislative races. Some conservative groups are using the issue to target some moderate House Republicans running for re-election against conservative challengers.
Related story
Obamacare among issues fueling campaign to unseat House GOP moderates


A look at the Kansas insurance commissioner GOP primary (July 27, 2014)

Four safety net clinics in Kansas have been awarded federal funding to create or expand mental health services for low-income Kansans. The funding is part of almost $55 million in similar grants nationwide through the Affordable Care Act.
Related story
Five seek GOP nomination for insurance commissioner


A strange political dustup clouds Kansas governor's future (July 24, 2014)

A look at the campaign for Kansas governor.
Related story
More than 100 current and former GOP officials endorse Davis


Four Kansas clinics receive ACA funds (July 20, 2014)

In advance of the Aug. 5 primary, learn more about the candidates who hope to succeed Sandy Praeger as the state's insurance commissioner.
Related story
Kansas safety net clinics receive ACA funds for mental health care


Current and former Kansas GOP officials endorse Davis (July 15, 2014)

More than 100 current and former Republican office holders endorsed Democrat Paul Davis for governor at an event in Topeka. Dick Bond, a former president of the Kansas Senate from Overland Park, says he’ll always be a Republican. But he says cuts to public education and incumbent Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s “experimental” tax cuts have the state headed in the wrong direction.
Related story
More than 100 current and former GOP officials endorse Davis


One goal of Kansas tax cuts? Smaller government (June 23, 2014)

Whenever Gov. Sam Brownback talks about cutting state income taxes, he focuses mainly on the economic benefits he believes that action will produce. He says business owners who spend less on taxes will use those savings to create new jobs. But could the tax cuts also be designed to shrink state government by reducing revenues and forcing policymakers to cut spending? The answer is “yes,” according to one key lawmaker.
Related story
Cash-flow loan triggers debate about Brownback’s economic policies


Kansas hospitals push for Medicaid expansion (June 17, 2014)

Kansas hospitals are intensifying their effort to convince state officials to adopt Medicaid expansion, and are drafting a proposal for the governor and legislators to consider after the November elections.
Related story
Kansas hospitals crafting Medicaid expansion proposal


Analyst says tax cuts caused Kansas revenue drop (June 9, 2014)

Explanations by officials in the administration of Governor Sam Brownback about why state revenues are declining are being challenged.


Legislature considering controversial fluoride bill (Feb. 20, 2014)

The fluoride issue is back in the news. This time the debate is over a bill being considered by the Legislature that would require cities that treat their drinking water to issue warnings to residents.
Related story
Critics fear fluoridation poses health risks, despite endorsement by most scientists


Corporate ag initiative shelved for 2014 session (Jan. 21, 2014)

A controversial effort to relax Kansas corporate farming laws appears to have been put on hold. Legislators will continue to discuss the proposed changes but probably won’t act on them this session.
Related story
Administration officials, lobbyists say more groundwork needed before pursuing corporate ag changes


Interim Director Takes Reins at Headquarters (Dec. 10, 2013)

A new director has begun work at the statewide suicide hotline and counseling organization, Headquarters Counseling Center, but only on an interim basis. Headquarters volunteer Steve Lopes took charge the Lawrence-based suicide prevention center Monday in the wake of the sudden departure of longtime director Marcia Epstein.
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Interim director takes reins at statewide suicide prevention hotline


Kansas single mother drawn into Obamacare feud (Nov. 18, 2013)

President Obama is saying that people can temporarily keep health insurance plans that don’t meet standards in the federal health reform law. The president announced the change in the face of mounting pressure from Congress — particularly Republican like Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas.
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How to become an Obamacare poster child


Food assistance reduced for 316,000 Kansans (Nov. 1, 2013)

The end of October brings an end to a boost in the amount of federal food assistance that's been helping to feed 316,000 Kansans for the past four years. As Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson explains, the extra benefits were part of the stimulus bill Congress passed in 2009 to help people recover from the recession.
Related stories
Recessions lead to explosion in food stamp costs
Food stamp work requirements complicate Farm Bill passage
Roberts' proposal to cut SNAP fails in U.S. Senate
Kansas officials pull plug on SNAP outreach grants


Kansas foundation out to curb smoking among mentally ill (Oct. 31, 2013)

Kansans with mental illness smoke at much higher rate than people in the general population and suffer disproportionately from a host of smoking related illnesses as a result. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, a Kansas foundation is launching an effort to address the problem.
Related story
Foundation spearheading effort to curb smoking among the mentally ill


Prairie Village man fighting KanCare service reduction (Oct. 8, 2013)

There has been some muted criticism of the KanCare program since its launch by the Brownback administration in January. But very little outright complaining. That changed yesterday at the first meeting of the Legislature’s KanCare Oversight Committee.
Related stories
Prairie Village man fighting KanCare service reduction
Kansas Medicaid providers complain to oversight committee


Drug overdose deaths relatively low in Kansas (Oct. 8, 2013)

The rate of drug overdose deaths in Kansas has more than doubled since 1999. But the rate has gone up even more in many other states.


FDA official talks tobacco regulation in Kansas (Sept. 19, 2013)

The man in charge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new effort to regulate tobacco products is in Wichita today. Mitch Zeller is speaking at the Kansas Public Health Association’s fall meeting about how his agency is helping to reduce tobacco use, smoking in particular. There are more than 470,000 adult smokers in Kansas. And thousands of kids pick up the habit each day. Jim McLean, of the KHI News service, spokes to Zeller ahead of his trip and filed this report.
Related stories
Nation’s tobacco control chief to address Kansas public health conference
E-cigarettes on the rise, but still unregulated


Kansas Lt. Gov. urges Congress to delay Obamacare (Sept. 19, 2013)

Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer is urging members of Congress to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." Colyer testified on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Related story
Kansas official among those encouraging Congress to delay Obamacare


Kansas to use health reform money for mental health initiative (July 31, 2013)

Gov. Sam Brownback remains generally opposed to the federal health reform law. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, his administration wants to use a little-known provision in the law to improve mental health care in the state’s KanCare program.


U.S. Senate report critical of dental clinic chains (July 25, 2013)

A two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate concludes that so-called dental management companies have provided substandard care to poor children covered by Medicaid, while overbilling the joint federal-state program. —Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
Small Smiles chain should be booted from Medicaid program, new federal report recommends


Some Kansas pharmacies feeling squeezed by KanCare (July 2, 2013)

Some Kansas pharmacists say they’re being squeezed financially by the new KanCare program. They say the amount they’re being paid by the private companies running the program often isn’t enough to cover their costs. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
Independent pharmacists push for KanCare contract enforcement


New health insurance rules soon take effect (July 1, 2013)

Virtually all Kansans will be required to purchase health insurance when the federal health reform law takes effect in January. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, new federal rules say that Kansans who were left out of the law’s Medicaid expansion will be exempt from that requirement. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
Those left out of Medicaid expansion won’t have to buy insurance


KanCare public forum draws small crowd (June 26, 2013)

A meeting held yesterday in Topeka to get comments from the public about the state’s new KanCare program drew a small crowd. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the event gave members of the KanCare Advisory Council a chance to question representatives of the three private insurance companies hired by the state to run the program. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
Sparse turnout at KanCare public forum


Pew report cites need for mid-level dental providers (June 25, 2013)

A new report from Pew Research Center lists the 10 states with the most severe shortage of dentists, and the 10 states where low-income children are least likely to receive dental care. Kansas is not on either of those lists. Still, nearly 55 percent of Kansas kids covered by Medicaid received no dental care in 2011. The report also reveals that more than 16 percent of the state’s population is underserved, and living in a dental shortage area. The Pew report says research in the U.S. and in other countries demonstrates that so-called mid-level dental providers offer safe, high-quality care. Efforts the past couple of years to create this new type of registered dental practitioners in Kansas have come up short. —Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story
Dentists shouldn't fear mid-level dental care, expert says


Child poverty a growing problem in Kansas (June 24, 2013)

Kansas is the 16th best state in the nation in terms of overall child well-being. So says the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in this year's Kids Count Data Book. The report covers 16 measures of child health: economic well-being, family & community, and education. But while Kansas is in the top-third overall, the economic picture for kids in Kansas is not so bright. —Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story
Report: One in five Kansas children living in poverty


K-State to use extension network to provide health reform education (June 20, 2013)

A new K-State professor wants to use her position with the university’s vast extension service to educate Kansans about the controversial federal health reform law. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service


KU Med to lose 31 student slots in Kansas City (June 18, 2013)

The University of Kansas is wrestling with how to cut $13.5 million from its budget over the next two years. But the funding reduction will not prompt the closing of the KU School of Medicine's campus in Salina, KU officials say. —Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Tax and budget issues push session into 90th day (May 23, 2013)

When the Kansas Legislative session started in January, leaders hoped to be done with their work in 80 days. But disagreements over tax and budget issues spoiled those plans. And as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, 90 days into the session those issues and others remain unresolved. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
No progress on tax talks


Lawmakers make no progress toward adjournment (May 21, 2013)

Kansas lawmakers made no apparent progress toward adjourning the legislative session Monday. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, they remain deeply divided on budget and tax issues. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service


2013 Legislative session stretches past deadline (May 20, 2013)

The legislative session is stretching into a new week after lawmakers failed to come to an agreement on some key issues last week. KPR's Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean of the KHI News Service about last week in the Legislature. McLean says the same few big issues are dividing the House and the Senate and extending the session.
Related story
Legislative impasse continues


Lawmakers still looking for agreement on budget and taxes (May 20, 2013)

About a thousand advocates for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday. They want lawmakers to keep some of the services the disabled depend on out of the Brownback administration’s new KanCare program. More from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
Legislative impasse continues

Lawmakers still looking for agreement on budget and taxes


Advocates for developmentally disabled rally at statehouse (May 9, 2013)

About a thousand advocates for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday. They want lawmakers to keep some of the services the disabled depend on out of the Brownback administration’s new KanCare program. More from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
More than 1,000 rally at Statehouse for DD carve-out


Advocates for developmentally disabled rally at statehouse (May 9, 2013)

About a thousand advocates for Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday. They want lawmakers to keep some of the services the disabled depend on out of the Brownback administration’s new KanCare program. More from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
More than 1,000 rally at Statehouse for DD carve-out


Lawmakers return to finish work on budget and tax cuts (May 8, 2013)

Kansas lawmakers return to the Statehouse Wednesday to wrap up their work for the year. Items on their to-do list include finishing work on a budget for the fiscal year that starts in July. Getting that done, as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, will also require them to settle a disagreement between the House and Senate over tax cuts. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Advocates for disabled want progress on waiting lists (May 6, 2013)

Advocates for developmentally disabled Kansans have scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. today (May 6) in 142-S at the Statehouse. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reporters, the topic will be Governor Brownback’s proposal to reduce the number of people on the waiting list for services. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related links
Governor's plan would take 600 off waiting lists for social services
A commercial to be unveiled today will be posted at endthewaitks.org


Legislators approve controversial health insurance bill (April 8, 2013)

Kansas lawmakers ended the regular part of their 2013 session over the weekend. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, several health-care bills were among those sent to Gov. Sam Brownback in the final hours. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Tax credit for poor families at risk (April 5, 2013)

A group of legislators negotiating a compromise tax-cut bill may not be done talking about a controversial proposal to lower a tax credit for the working poor. —Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story
Tax negotiators sideline EITC and health club exemption bills


Concerns linger as hospital sale finalized (April 4, 2013)

A California company has completed its acquisition of two Kansas City-area hospitals. But the sale of the Catholic hospitals to a for-profit company is not sitting well with everyone, reports Bryan Thompson of Kansas Public Radio. — Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
AG to review sale of two Kansas hospitals


Legislative negotiators reach agreement on KanCare oversight bill (March 29, 2013)

Legislators working out compromises on several health-related bills have reached agreement on a bill that would form a special committee to oversee the implementation of KanCare — Governor Sam Brownback’s privatization of Medicaid. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Roberts says bill would improve SNAP and save $36 billion (March 6, 2013)

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts has introduced a bill to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson has more.


Kansas lawmakers seeking to end to green energy initiative (Feb. 28, 2013)

“Green” energy advocates across the country are paying close attention to two bills working their way through the Kansas Legislature. The bills would roll back regulations that require state utilities to gradually increase their reliance on renewable energy.
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House committee favors rolling back renewable energy standards


Poll shows Kansans support Medicaid expansion (Feb. 27, 2013)

A new poll says that a majority of Kansans favor expanding Medicaid. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, lawmakers are preparing to vote on a resolution that would put the Legislature on record opposing expansion.
Related story
Hospital association poll shows most Kansans support Medicaid expansion


Hospital study says Medicaid expansion would create jobs (Feb. 18, 2013)

A new study says that expanding Medicaid would pump billions of dollars into the Kansas economy and create thousands of jobs. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the Kansas Hospital Association commissioned the study.
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Kansas hospital group study predicts expanding Medicaid would generate 4,000 jobs


Newspaper report says Brownback spending reduction claim inaccurate (Feb. 18, 2013)

Gov. Sam Brownback is using inaccurate numbers to back up a claim that he has lowered overall state spending, according a report published over the weekend in the Wichita Eagle newspaper. We get more on the story from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service.
Related story
Wichita Eagle story: Governor’s numbers come under question


Brownback not surprised by resistance to tax plan (Feb. 15, 2013)

Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s not concerned that the revenue-raising measures in his tax package are not popular with some Republicans. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the tax package may be put to a vote next week.
Related story
Republicans squabble over governor's tax plan


Brownback, ALEC tax policies criticized (Feb. 14, 2013)

Tax policies promoted by a conservative legislative group and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback are coming under fire from several progressive think-tanks. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, the analysts say that cutting income taxes is not a path to prosperity.
Related story
Brownback and ALEC tax policies criticized by liberal policy groups


Brownback administration releases Medicaid expansion cost estimate (Feb. 11, 2013)

State health officials have come up with their estimate of the cost of complying with the part of the federal health reform law that calls for the expansion of Medicaid. As Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, Gov. Sam Brownback still isn’t ready to say whether the state will implement the expansion next year.
Related story
Brownback officials release their cost projections for Medicaid expansion


Debate continues on how to address "dental desert" problem (Feb. 7, 2013)

The Medicaid program in Kansas provides medical care for low-income seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, and low-income parents and their children. But if you're poor and don't have kids, you're out of luck. That could soon change. The federal government wants states to make it easier to qualify for Medicaid — and they're willing to pay most of the cost to do that. As part of Kansas Public Radio's series, "Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change," reporter Bryan Thompson reviews what's at stake.
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Dentist groups announce scholarships for dentists going to rural areas
Advocates for mid-level dental providers meet with legislators


Making sense of Medicaid expansion (Feb. 5, 2013)

The Medicaid program in Kansas provides medical care for low-income seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, and low-income parents and their children. But if you're poor and don't have kids, you're out of luck. That could soon change. The federal government wants states to make it easier to qualify for Medicaid — and they're willing to pay most of the cost to do that. As part of Kansas Public Radio's series, "Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change," reporter Bryan Thompson reviews what's at stake.
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Debate begins on possible Kansas Medicaid expansion


Brownback tax package faces first test in senate tax committee (Feb. 5, 2013)

The package of tax cuts and revenue increases being pushed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is in for its first real test of the legislative session. A committee is ready to vote on whether to recommend the package to the full Senate.
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Brownback tax package to be tested this week


Part 5: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver? (Jan. 18, 2013)

Now that KanCare is in effect, Kansans who rely on Medicaid are depending on private insurance companies to pay for their care. Will these companies live up to their contractual obligations? As we wrap up our series on KanCare, Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson takes a closer look at those contracts.
Full series
All reports in this series are available at khi.org/kancare-series


Part 4: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver? (Jan. 17, 2013)

This week, we've been hearing about KanCare – and how Gov. Brownback's effort to privatize Medicaid is intended to both save money and improve care. In Part 3 of this series, we heard how this kind of managed care seems to be working in some states. In Part 4, Jim McLean of the KHI News Service, takes us to some states where it hasn't worked... at least not yet.
Full series
All reports in this series will be posted throughout the week at khi.org/kancare-series


Part 3: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver? (Jan. 16, 2013)

As we've heard this week in our series on KanCare, Gov. Sam Brownback has two objectives for his overhaul of Medicaid. First, save money. Second, improve the care delivered to the 380,000 Kansans who depend on the program. But how realistic is it that the governor's KanCare program can achieve both of those goals? To answer that question, KHI News Service's Jim McLean turns to some recent research.
Full series
All reports in this series will be posted throughout the week at khi.org/kancare-series


New policy center weighs into debate on school funding (Jan. 15, 2013)

Kansas has a new player in the policy debate over budgets and taxes. The Kansas Center for Economic Growth is being launched today, and is jumping right into the debate on school funding. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Part 2: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver? (Jan. 15, 2013)

Medicaid is the second largest program the State of Kansas operates. Only education consumes more dollars in the state budget. And Medicaid costs have been growing at a faster pace than most other programs. A desire to control costs and improve care is why officials in Gov. Sam Brownback's administration say they are giving the program a complete overhaul. Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson has this report.
Full series
All reports in this series will be posted throughout the week at khi.org/kancare-series


Part 1: Lower Cost & Better Care: Can KanCare Deliver? (Jan. 14, 2013)

To many Kansans, Medicaid is just another welfare program. But it’s really much more than that. Yes, it provides health coverage for low-income mothers and children. But it also serves as a safety net for elderly Kansans. And it’s critical to keeping disabled Kansans in their communities and out of more expensive state hospitals. But the Kansas Medicaid program is undergoing big changes. The state has hired three for-profit companies to manage Medicaid as part of Governor Sam Brownback’s KanCare initiative. Today, we’re launching a week-long series on KanCare produced by Jim McLean of the KHI News Service and KPR’s own Health Reporter, Bryan Thompson. We begin with this report from Jim McLean.
Full series
All reports in this series will be posted throughout the week at khi.org/kancare-series


Concerns surface about new KanCare ombudsman (Jan. 7, 2013)

Just one week ago, hundreds of thousands of Kansans who receive health care from the $3 billion state Medicaid program experienced some big changes. They became clients of three, for-profit companies the state has contracted with to run its new KanCare initiative. There are early concerns about whether the person charged with handling consumer complaints will have the independence and resources he needs to effectively do the job. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.


Public health preparedness lags in Kansas (Dec. 19, 2012)

A new report on the nation's public health preparedness finds Kansas tied with Montana for last place. — Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
Kansas gets failing grade for public health preparedness


Kansas City hospitals to cooperate on pediatric care (Dec. 4, 2012)

Two Kansas City hospitals have announced plans to work together to create a single, integrated pediatric program. — Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Children’s Cabinet to consider funding reductions (Dec. 3, 2012)

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet meets today amid a growing controversy. The dispute is about how much tobacco settlement money the state will collect. — Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Children's Cabinet set to weigh in on tobacco revenue projections


KanCare concerns persist as federal decision nears (Nov. 30, 2012)

Kansas’ plan to overhaul its Medicaid program has put federal officials on the spot. The state wants to launch its KanCare plan on January 1 but can’t do it without federal approval. The aggressive timetable has forced federal officials to do something they don’t often do…evaluate the plan on the fly. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.
Related story
Federal officials say they hope to act soon on KanCare waiver request


Governor issues weight loss challenge (Nov. 28, 2012)

Governor Sam Brownback is challenging Kansans to get healthier by losing weight. Citing statistics that show the obesity rate in Kansas has more than doubled since 1995, the governor says the state has to “get on top” of the problem or face a growing number of citizens with obesity related diseases. Despite the urgency of the problem Brownback doesn’t like new federal guidelines aimed at making school lunches healthier. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.


Brownback blocks plan to partner with feds on insurance exchange (Nov. 9, 2012)

Governor Sam Brownback is blocking Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's efforts to partner with the federal government on a health insurance exchange. It’s the latest chapter in an ongoing struggle between the two Republican officials over implementation of the federal health reform law. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.
Related story
Brownback says no again to health insurance exchange


Controversial fluoride issue back before Wichita voters (Nov. 6, 2012)

Voters in Wichita won't just be casting votes for the leader of the free world today. They'll be trying once again to settle a long-standing controversy in thier community...whether to fluoridate their drinking water. it's a question that arouses strong feelings and one that is likely to once again result in a close vote. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.
Related story
Fluoridation issue alive again in Wichita


Kansas regulators holding hearing today on insurance merger (Nov. 4, 2012)

The planned sale of one big insurance company to another will be the subject of a public hearing this afternoon in Topeka. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is one of 26 state regulators who must approve the $7 billion deal. — Jim McLean / Kansas Health Institute.
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Public hearing set on proposed takeover of Coventry Health Care


More Kansas kids now covered by health insurance (Oct. 24, 2012)

Kansas has done a good job the past couple of years covering more children with health insurance. In 2009, 8.2 per cent of children in Kansas were uninsured, according to the Georgetown Center on Children and Families. Two years later, that figure was down to 6.4 percent. — Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
Fewer uninsured children in Kansas now


Poll shows Kansans divided on governor’s economic policies (Oct. 23, 2012)

A new statewide survey shows that Kansans are concerned about the economy but not sure about Governor Sam Brownback’s approach to improving it. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story
Poll: Kansans worried about economy, split on governor's efforts to improve it


Brownback tax cuts questioned at economic conference (Oct. 19, 2012)

Kansas State University political scientist Joe Aistrup says that Governor Sam Brownback’s income tax cuts may not benefit the state as much as he and others are suggesting. Aistrup raised the topic Thursday at a conference on the state economy held here at the University of Kansas. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story
Impact of Brownback tax cuts questioned at economic conference


Problems fixed at state hospital for the mentally ill (Oct. 18, 2012)

Officials at the Larned State Hospital for the mentally ill have addressed several serious problems uncovered by an inspection last spring. A follow-up inspection this week found no issues at the south-central Kansas facility. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related coverage
Audio interview with Tom Kinlen, acting superintendent at Larned State Hospital
Larned State Hospital passes follow-up inspection


Brownback administration official says KanCare on schedule (Oct. 11, 2012)

Some consumer groups and providers have questioned whether Governor Sam Brownback’s overhaul of the Medicaid program can be implemented on schedule. But a top administration official told a legislative committee Wednesday that a January 1st launch still appears feasible. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story
Brownback officials continue push for Jan. 1 KanCare launch


Simple explanation of health coverage now required (Sep. 24, 2012)

Insurers are now required to provide consumers a summary — in plain English — of the coverage and costs in their health plans. The requirement is part of the 2010 health reform law sometimes referred to as 'Obamacare.' —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related document
Sample of what a Summary of Benefits and Coverage will look like


KanCare online comment period closes today (Sep. 21, 2012)

Friday is the public's last chance to post comments online for federal health officials to consider in their decision on privatization of the Kansas Medicaid program. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
Brownback Medicaid makeover an “ambitious” plan


Taking control of our expanding waistlines (Sep. 19, 2012)

Kansas is currently ranked as the 15th fattest state. If the current trend continues, two out of three Kansans will be obese by the year 2030. One of the nation's leading experts on obesity — Dr. William Dietz, the former head of obesity programs at the CDC — says that trend must be reversed. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related stories
Rural Americans fatter than urban counterparts, KU study finds
Governor: Assess state facilities for healthy food, activity options


Study says rural Americans fatter than urban counterparts (Sep. 14, 2012)

A new study published in the Journal of Rural Health reveals that Americans living in rural areas are more likely than city-dwellers to be obese. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related stories
Rural Americans fatter than urban counterparts, KU study finds
Governor: Assess state facilities for healthy food, activity options


Health, public officials meet in to talk obesity (Sep. 14, 2012)

More than 60 percent of Kansas adults are either overweight or obese. And our collective weight problem is driving up the cost of healthcare. Reducing the obesity rate is one of the top goals of some health advocates in the state, who gathered last week at an obesity summit in Topeka. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio.


Which health insurance benefits are “essential”? (Sep. 13, 2012)

When the Affordable Care Act — called Obamacare by some — is fully implemented in 2014, all individual and small group health insurance policies will have to include a package of so-called "essential health benefits." The law sets out 10 broad categories of coverage, but allows each state to determine the specific items and services that are included. The Kansas Insurance Department is now formulating a recommendation to Gov. Sam Brownback as to what should be required in Kansas. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related stories
Blue Cross Kansas exec urges selection of Blue plan for ACA benchmark
Kansas wrestles with whether to decide which health insurance benefits are essential
Governor faces another decision on health reform implementation


Number of uninsured Kansans continues to climb (Sep. 12, 2012)

The number of Americans without health insurance declined last year for the first time in several years. But Kansas is bucking that positive trend. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related stories
National uptick in health coverage for young adults doesn’t extend to Kansas
Kansas uninsured rate climbs while nation’s declines


Public input sought on health coverage requirements (Sep. 5, 2012)

The future of the federal health reform law may be in doubt until after the election. But parts of it are still taking effect on schedule. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger is holding a public meeting 9 a.m. Wednesday on what to require of plans sold through a new insurance exchange. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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KDHE: Lakes still present blue-green algae risk (Sep. 4, 2012)

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issed a reminder that some state lakes continue to be covered by blue-green algae advisories. Miranda Steele of KDHE says the lakes affected are scattered throughout Kansas. While the lakes and their surrounding park areas are still open to visitors, coming into contact with lake water is not advised. They lakes under advisory are listed at kdheks.gov. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Free movie addresses weighty issues (Sep. 1, 2012)

State health officials are inviting the public to a free screening of an HBO documentary in Topeka Wednesday evening. "Weight of the Nation" is a four-part series looking at the causes and possible solutions to stop the growing numbers of obese Americans. To be screened is “Episode 4: Challenges,” which looks at the American food culture, agriculture, economics, biology, food industry, food systems, racial and socioeconomic disparities and physical activity. The screening is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Ramada Inn, Regency Ballroom, 420 SE 6th St., in Topeka. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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Appeal seeks to stop expansion of western Kansas coal-burner


Sunflower power plant closing arguments begin at Kansas Supreme Court (Aug. 31, 2012)

The Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Friday morning in a challenge to the air quality permit granted almost two years ago for construction of a coal-fired power plant in Southwest Kansas. The court proceedings are available via live video stream at 9 a.m. Aug. 31. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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Kansas health planning process begins (Aug. 29, 2012)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback kicked off a state health planning process this week. He was joined by leaders from various state agencies and non-profit groups to come up with a long-range plan. Brownback encouraged the group's steering committee to explore which health issues have the greatest effect on Kansas families, and which are most important for the state's economic growth. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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KPR story: KanCare, ready or not? (Aug. 9, 2012)

Less than five months from now, the Kansas Medicaid program is scheduled to convert to a privatized system called KanCare. In January, three for-profit, managed-care organizations will take over the federal/state program that pays for health care for low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities. State officials have been conducting meetings across the state to help people prepare for the change. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Conservatives making federal health reform issue in pivotal state senate races (Aug. 6, 2012)

Tuesday's Kansas primary election is one of the most anticipated in years. An attempt by Gov. Sam Brownback and conservative Republicans to take control of the state senate from GOP moderates has attracted national attention. And curiously a federal issue has become one of the biggest points of contention. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Campaign literature labeled 'misleading'


SEK initiative wins federal rural development grants (Aug. 2, 2012)

Two federal agencies are giving large grants to the effort underway in southeast Kansas to revitalize a 17 county region. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Moderate GOP senators dispute charge they supported Obamacare (July 20, 2012)

Several moderate Republican state senators say a conservative group is waging an inaccurate postcard campaign against them. The campaign involves a defeated constitutional amendment whose supporters say would have exempted the state from the federal health reform law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Poor Kansans and providers have a lot riding on Medicaid decision (July 13, 2012)

The federal health reform law recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court greatly expands Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor. But a twist in the ruling made the expansion optional for states. What Kansas officials will decide to do isn’t yet clear. What is clear is that their decision — whatever it is — will have a big impact on health care providers and uninsured Kansans. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Kansas congressman’s claims about impact of health reform law challenged (July 12, 2012)

All four Kansas members of the U.S. House voted with the majority on Wednesday to repeal the federal health reform law. But some of their reasons are being challenged by a former Kansas governor who is now responsible for implementing the law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Questions remain for Kansas following high court ruling (June 29, 2012)

An estimated 130,00 Kansans will become eligible for Medicaid under the health reform law — but Kansas could decide to not expand its Medicaid program as outlined by the law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may not withhold all of a state's Medicaid funding for electing not to expand its program as outlined by the health reform law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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KanCare skeptics air concerns at Topeka meeting (June 22, 2012)

Another overflow crowd showed up in Topeka for the second of two public hearings on Governor Sam Brownback’s Medicaid overhaul plan known as KanCare. LIke those gathered at the first meeting in Wichita, the crowd gathered in Topeka was largely opposed to the sweeping changes being proposed. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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KanCare hearing draws extensive criticism (June 19, 2012)

A crowd of more than 200 people packed a hearing room in Wichita Monday to sound-off about Governor Sam Brownback's plan to privatize the state's Medicaid system. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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Kentucky's Medicaid reform problems prompts concerns for Kansas (June 13, 2012)

Problems with Medicaid reforms in Kentucky are prompting concerns about similar changes being planned here to the program that covers more than 380,000 low-income, disabled and elderly Kansans. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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Coming launch of health information network announced (May 24, 2012)

Two new health information exchange networks are gearing up to start operations in Kansas. And health officials want to alert the public to the benefits of participating in them to limit the number of Kansans who choose to “opt out” of the system. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Brownback signs tax cut bill despite concerns about budget impact (May 23, 2012)

Governor Sam Brownback signed a controversial tax-cutting bill into law today. The Republican governor said he was confident that reducing income taxes and eliminating some business taxes will create jobs and stimulate the Kansas economy. But Democrats and moderate Republicans say the bill will lead the state into a deep budget hole. They fear it will force cuts in public education and in programs for poor, elderly and disabled Kansans. Brownback calls their criticism of the bill “unfounded.”— By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Bethell remembered (May 22, 2012)

Rep. Bob Bethell is being remembered by friends and colleagues as a committed public servant who tried to stay above the political fray in Topeka. The 69-year-old Republican from Alden was killed in a one-car crash on Interstate 70 shortly after the 2012 legislative session was gaveled to a close. He was on his way home. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Kansas insurance co-op in the works (May 16, 2012)

It can be hard for new companies wanting to try new things to gain a foothold in the health insurance market. But a group in Kansas is out to buck the odds with help from the federal government. The project is part of a nationwide effort to establish a consumer-owned insurance co-op in every state. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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There's "war" in the Statehouse, some legislators say (May 14, 2012)

Legislative leaders say war within the Republican Party is complicating the final days of the session. Battle lines drawn over redistricting maps are affecting other issues. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Health centers awarded $21.7M in health reform grants (May 2, 2012)

Millions of federal dollars are coming to Kansas to expand community health centers in Hutchinson, Junction City, Pittsburg, Salina and Wichita. The grants are from the Affordable Care Act, the controversial federal health reform law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Legislators likely to pursue changes to Medicaid overhaul plan (April 24, 2012)

Some lawmakers believe the Kansas Legislature will try to amend a plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program. Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal will reorganize the agencies that handle Medicaid and create privatized managed care programs. Democratic Topeka Senator Anthony Hensley believes the overhaul should be delayed. A rally is scheduled for Wednesday, as lawmakers return to Topeka for the wrap up session. The protest is aimed at urging legislators to exempt people with developmental disabilities from the proposed managed care programs. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio.


Hunger? In Lawrence? More than you might think (April 16, 2012)

As the home of the University of Kansas, a thriving business community and many high-paying jobs, the city of Lawrence might not seem like the kind of place where hunger is a problem. And yet, it is. Last week, hundreds of low-income residents of Douglas County lined up to receive free food and essentials, which were donated by the relief agency Feed The Children. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Brownback pushing Medicaid makeover despite concerns from disability community (April 13, 2012)

Governor Sam Brownback is moving full speed ahead to overhaul the state’s $2.8 billion Medicaid program despite pleas from some to slow down. At a Statehouse news conference, Brownback said poor, elderly and disabled Kansans shouldn’t be fearful of the plan to have private insurance companies manage their care. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, concerns about the plan appear to be growing across the state. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Registered dental practitioners: A new way to fill the need for dental care? (April 4, 2012)

Analysts have known for years that Kansas has a severe shortage of dentists — and that shortage is getting worse. The problem is greatest in rural Kansas, especially in the western part of the state. One idea under consideration is the creation of a mid-level dental provider. This would be a person whose training and skills fall somewhere between those of a hygienist and a full-fledged dentist. But the proposal to create such a position remains bogged down in the Kansas Legislature. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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House leaders block vote on KanCare services for the developmentally disabled (March 30, 2012)

An attempt to exempt developmentally disabled Kansans from Gov. Sam Brownback’s Medicaid managed care plan was thwarted yesterday in the Kansas House. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Washburn law professor holding to prediction that health reform law will be upheld (March 29, 2012)

Many observers expect the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal health reform law when it issues a ruling in June. They say questions asked by the Court’s five conservative justices during this week’s oral arguments signaled their intention to strike down the law. But in an interview with Jim McLean of the KHI News Service, Washburn University law professor Bill Rich says overturning the law would be a case of judicial activism.—By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Attorney General Schmidt says health law mandate exceeds federal authority (March 21, 2012)

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the states challenging the federal health reform law will make a strong case next week when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case. KHI News Service talked to Schmidt about the case and filed this report. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Attorney General Schmidt says health law mandate exceeds federal authority (March 21, 2012)

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the states challenging the federal health reform law will make a strong case next week when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case. KHI News Service talked to Schmidt about the case and filed this report. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Schmidt says states on solid ground in ACA challenge (March 21, 2012)

For three days next week, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will witness history being made. He will be in the gallery at U.S. Supreme Court to hear the arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act. Kansas and 25 other states are challenging the constitutionality of the health reform law on two fronts. Its requirement that virtually everyone purchase health insurance. And the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled. Eighty-five percent of experts surveyed recently by the American Bar Association predicted the high court would uphold the law. But in an interview with the KHI News Service, Schmidt said he believes Kansas and the other states challenging the law have a solid case.—By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Bill cuts income tax, eliminates sales tax on food - part 1 (March 14, 2012)
Bill cuts income tax, eliminates sales tax on food - part 2 (March 14, 2012)

After a five-hour debate, the Kansas House gave first-round approval to a bill that would cut income tax rates in Kansas, with the goal of growing the economy. The bill would limit government spending growth at 3 percent per year. Any income beyond that would be used to cut tax rates. The legislation would also eliminate some small businesses taxes. In part 1, Stephen Koranda has more on how the debate played out. In part 2, Jim McLean covers the debate on the Earned Income Tax Credit. —By Stephan Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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House to start the week debating income tax reduction bill (March 12, 2012)

A bill that would lower income taxes and limit state spending is scheduled to be debated Monday in the Kansas House. The proposal is similar to one backed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Week Nine of the 2012 Session (March 12, 2012)

Today is the beginning of the tenth week of the 2012 Kansas legislative session. Week number nine was busy with discussions, panel hearings and negotiations. The head of SRS said she'd consider making changes to a controversial food stamp policy, and concerns about the pace of a proposed Medicaid overhaul made the rounds at the Statehouse. Jim McLean and Stephen Koranda discuss the week's legislative news, beginning with Governor Sam Brownback's timetable for implementing revisions to Medicaid, which has inspired a coalition of legislators to ask for a delay. . — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Lawmakers urge KanCare delay (March 8, 2012)

A group of legislators is urging Gov. Sam Brownback to slow down his plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program. The bipartisan group of lawmakers is worried the massive changes being planned will cause a disruption in services. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Experts express concerns about Brownback Medicaid plan (March 6, 2012)

One of the goals of Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to overhaul Medicaid is to save money. At a forum on the plan in Topeka, experts urged caution. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Week Eight of the 2012 Session (March 5, 2012)

During a short but busy week, Kansas lawmakers continued work on some of the biggest issues before the Legislature, such as abortion legislation and education funding. The House even took the step of reversing its previous approval of a bill to reduce property taxes. Also, a House committee passed legislation that would establish a prayer and meditation chapel in the Statehouse. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


The push for electronic health records (Feb. 29, 2012)

The number of hospitals switching to computerized health records has more than doubled in the last two years. The medical field still has a long way to go to fully implement electronic record keeping, but the trend is clear. And some of the most advanced technology is showing up where you might least expect it. — By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
More information related to this story.


Week Seven of the 2012 Session (Feb. 27, 2012)

Lawmakers passed bill after bill last week in the Kansas Legislature. They ranged from repealing outdated statues to cutting taxes — and everything in between. KPR’s Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean of the KHI news service about week seven of the 2012 session. Stephen says lawmakers were so busy because of a legislative deadline known as “turnaround.” — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Five companies submit bids for Kansas Medicaid privatization (Feb. 23, 2012)

The State of Kansas has received bids from five private, managed care organizations seeking a share of the Kansas Medicaid program. Scott Brunner — KHI senior analyst and former Kansas Medicaid director — says the state has kept the Medicaid overhaul process moving on the timeline it set forth. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
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Kansas tax debate headed for showdown (Feb. 21, 2012)

Plans to put a cap on state spending — and phase out the income tax — are commanding a lot of attention at the Kansas Statehouse. Gov. Sam Brownback is pushing one plan. House Republicans prefer another. Meanwhile, a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate could stand in the way of either plan becoming law. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has been looking into arguments for and against the tax plans. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Mission of Mercy provides free dental care to 2,144 (Feb. 20, 2012)

Kansas Dentists and their support staff provided dental care worth $1.5 million to more than 2,000 patients this weekend in Kansas City, Kansas—all at no charge. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Week Six of the 2012 Session (Feb. 20, 2012)

KPR’s Stephen Koranda speaks with Jim McLean, of the KHI news service, about week six of the legislative session. Several hundred people rallied outside the Statehouse this week to demonstrate their opposition to a range of policy changes advocated by Gov. Sam Brownback. A Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to Sec. of State Kris Kobach on suspicion that his work on immigration reform and voter fraud is coming at the expense of his official state duties. The proposed new NBAF facility in Manhattan is defunded under President Obama's proposed budget. And in the week ahead, a look at the competing tax plans that are emerging at the Statehouse. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Elder advocate group opposes reorganization (Feb. 16, 2012)

As part of his effort to remake the Kansas Medicaid system, Governor Sam Brownback filed an Executive Reorganization Order February 6th. ERO number 41 would, among other things, create a new state agency-the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. A non-profit group that advocates for better long-term care for elders and families is trying to stop the reorganization. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Rally staged to protest Brownback policies (Feb. 16, 2012)

More than 300 Kansans turned out in a light drizzle Wednesday for a protest rally at the Statehouse. They were protesting policies being promoted by Gov. Sam Brownback that they believe help the wealthy at the expense of middle and low income Kansans. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Interstate Health Care Compact bill approved by House health panel (Feb. 15, 2012)

A House committee has endorsed a bill that would allow Kansas to join a multistate compact being formed to challenge the federal government’s authority to set health policy, including its ability to enforce the new health reform law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Multistate compact seeks to free state from federal Medicaid and Medicare rules


NBAF Unfunded in President’s Budget (Feb. 14, 2012)

The 2013 budget proposed by President Obama includes no new funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, in Manhattan. The significance of that decision is a matter of perspective. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Week Five of the 2012 Session (Feb. 13, 2012)

Kansas lawmakers have been talking taxes and voting on plans to redraw political districts in the state. KPR’s Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean, of the KHI news service, about week five of the legislative session. Stephen says the House tax committee held hearings on the governor’s tax plan. But at the end of the week, House leaders released the details of a tax proposal of their own. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Congressman says NBAF a question of when, not if (Feb. 13, 2012)

President Obama has decided not to fund construction of a huge animal disease lab in Kansas next year. That does not mean the end of the project, though, according to a Congressman from Kansas. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Conservative activist urges Kansas membership in health care compact (Feb. 7, 2012)

A bill that would make Kansas part of an effort to challenge the federal government’s authority to set health care policy has surfaced in the Legislature. Supporters say it’s more than just another effort to nullify the new health reform law. — By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Compact would take Kansas out of federal Medicaid and Medicare programs


Week Four of the 2012 Session (Feb. 6, 2012)

It's now the fifth week of the 2012 Kansas legislative session. Lawmakers and the governor have been busy. Last week, the governor signed an executive order revamping Medicaid, the massive health care program for the poor and disabled. Meanwhile, lawmakers have been taking testimony on changes to the food stamp program, which resulted in hundreds of children losing food assistance. — By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio and Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Selling doctors on rural communities (Feb. 2, 2012)

Recruiting doctors to live and work in rural counties is a chronic problem. Most health centers try to attract workers with big salaries and expensive homes. The Ashland Health Clinic, a tiny hospital in southwest Kansas, is trying a different tack — a reverse-recruitment model. It's called mission-focused medicine, and it's based on serving problems most commonly found in third-world countries. —By Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media and Kansas Public Radio.
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Safety net clinics seeking funding increase (Feb. 2, 2012)

The clinics that provide medical and dental care to poor and uninsured Kansans haven’t received an increase in state funding in three years. But they’re asking for one now that the recession is starting to ease and state revenues are picking up. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Environmental Impact Statement required for coal power plant to proceed (Feb. 1, 2012)

A federal judge in Washington says the expansion of a coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas can't go forward without a federal environmental impact statement. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


SRS defends new food stamp policy for children of illegal immigrants (Jan. 31, 2012)

A top official at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services defended a change in policy that has resulted in at least 1,000 children being dropped from the state’s food stamp program. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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SRS defends change in food stamp policy


Week Three of the 2012 Session (Jan. 30, 2012)

Kansas lawmakers are still sifting through the findings of an audit of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. The audit, which cost nearly a million dollars, contained sharp criticism and some praise for the agency. Much of that criticism was leveled at the KBA's former CEO, Tom Thornton, who resigned last year while the audit was still underway. KPR's Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean of the KHI news service about the audit and some of the other issues in play at the Statehouse. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service and Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio.


KU Cancer Center director defends KBA (Jan. 26, 2012)

The man leading the effort to win national accreditation for the University of Kansas Cancer Center says the state’s Biosciences Authority has given the project a leg up on the competition. Dr. Roy Jensen is urging state lawmakers to keep the recent audit that was critical of the authority’s previous leadership in perspective. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Finney County measles outbreak causes concern (Jan. 26, 2012)

State health officials are keeping a close eye on a measles outbreak in Garden City. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Medicaid expansion — Stretching the safety net (Jan. 25, 2012)

One of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare, to its critics—is to get nearly all Americans covered by some form of health insurance. For those at the bottom of the income scale, that coverage is likely to be provided through the federal/state partnership known as Medicaid. In fact, when the new law is fully implemented in 2014, the number of Kansans covered by Medicaid is expected to jump by almost half. And that will have major repercussions for clinics statewide that care for the medically underserved. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Another top SRS official resigns (Jan. 24, 2012)

Another Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services official is gone. Deputy Secretary Pedro Moreno’s resignation comes about a month after Secretary Rob Siedlecki left Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s Cabinet. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Moreno resigns deputy secretary post at SRS


Week Two of the 2012 Session (Jan. 23, 2012)

More details of Governor Sam Brownback’s tax plan were revealed last week. The governor’s proposal would cut income and business taxes with the goal of boosting the economy. To pay for the reduction in taxes, the plan would eliminate dozens of tax credits and exemptions. KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean, of the KHI news service, about the tax plan and some of the week’s other legislative stories. Stephen says a legislative analysis of the governor's proposal reveals that it would increase taxes paid by low-income Kansans. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service and Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio.


Brownback plan will cost many taxpayers more analysis shows (Jan. 20, 2012)

A new analysis of Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to overhaul the state’s income tax shows that it will of little benefit to many middle-income Kansans. Low-income taxpayers would actually pay more under the governor’s plan. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Governor's tax plan draws fans, critics (Jan. 20, 2012)

Governor Sam Brownback’s plan to overhaul the tax code has earned both fans and critics since it was released last week. The proposal would cut income tax rates, eliminate some tax exemptions and abolish some business taxes. Lawmakers have been getting a closer look at the details of the plan this week. This Kansas Public Radio story takes a look at some of the arguments for — and against — the governor's proposal. —By Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas legislature considering immunization exemption (Jan. 19, 2012)

Parents opposed to vaccinating their children for personal – not religious – reasons say they’re being discriminated against. They want a “personal beliefs” exemption added to the state’s immunization law. But public health experts warn a new exemption could result in more outbreaks of mumps, measles, whooping cough and other childhood diseases. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Colyer files brief in case challenging health reform law (Jan. 18, 2012)

Kansas Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer has filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case challenging the constitutionality of the federal health reform law. Colyer is arguing against the law’s expansion Medicaid. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Most “tobacco prevention” money diverted (Jan. 17, 2012)

Kansas falls far short of the federally recommended level of spending for anti-tobacco programs. In fact, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids ranks Kansas 37th on this measure. The new budget proposed by Governor Sam Brownback would make no change in the level of funding for anti-smoking efforts. Advocates say there’s plenty of money available but policymakers have chosen to devote tobacco revenues to other uses. —Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Week One of the 2012 Session (Jan. 16, 2012)

KPR has had an office in the Statehouse for more than four decades covering the Legislature. Today, we’re kicking off a new weekly feature here at KPR — a look back at what happened during the week in the Legislature and what we can expect in the coming week. KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief Stephen Koranda spoke with Jim McLean of the KHI news service — who is a former Statehouse reporter for KPR — about some of the biggest issues of the week and the State of the State address. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service and Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio.


Insurance industry whistleblower criticizes Brownback plan (Jan. 13, 2012)

Privatizing the Kansas Medicaid program is a potentially disastrous idea, according to a former insurance-industry insider turned health-reform crusader. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Lawmakers want increased Medicaid oversight (Jan. 12, 2012)

With lawmakers poised to return to the Statehouse next week for the launch of the 2012 session, key legislators from both parties say they want to revamp the Health Policy Oversight Committee so that is has a new focus on monitoring the state's Medicaid managed care contracts. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Steering committee formed to guide SEK economic, health improvement initiative (Jan. 6, 2012)

Four state senators from southeast Kansas are meeting today with a select group of regional leaders to decide how to sustain an economic development initiative launched at a summit held here in November. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


SEK revitalization effort taking shape (Jan. 3, 2012)

A new effort to revitalize southeast Kansas is starting to take shape. Four state senators from the region are spearheading the effort called Project 17 for the number of participating counties. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Call for unity resonates at Southeast Kansas economic summit


Report shows poverty worsening in Kansas (Dec. 22, 2011)

The Kansas Association of Community Action Programs has just released its annual poverty report. The association’s leaders hope the report serves as a wake-up call for state policymakers. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Disability groups don’t care for KanCare (Dec. 16, 2011)

At a public forum Tuesday night in Lenexa, family members and caregivers of Kansans with developmental disabilities said they are not happy with the Brownback administration’s plan to include them in the new managed care approach to Medicaid services. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Head of state welfare agency steps down (Dec. 16, 2011)

The head of the state’s welfare agency is stepping down after less than a year on the job. Rob Siedlecki’s tenure at the agency was marked by controversy. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Opposition building to Brownback plan to shift programs (Dec. 13, 2011)

Pressure is mounting on Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration to abandon its plan to transfer responsibility for several public health programs from one state agency to another. The plan is part of the administration’s Medicaid reform initiative. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Protests mount over SRS reorganization


Fighting for health care on the High Plains (Dec. 12, 2011)

Health care services can be hard to come by in rural areas. But one western Kansas woman insists that even people in the smallest communities deserve access to health care. It’s her job to fulfill that vision in the two least-populated counties in Kansas. As part of Kansas Public Radio's series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change,” Bryan Thompson recently paid a visit to these two frontier counties along the Colorado border to see how she does it. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


State agency working to reduce welfare fraud (Dec. 1, 2011)

The head of the state agency that oversees the food stamp program says fraud and improper payments are bigger problems than a recently concluded federal audit suggests. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Kansas gets Medicare fraud prevention grant (Nov. 29, 2011)

State officials are warning seniors to be on the lookout for Medicare scammers offering free diabetic supplies. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
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Kansas gets Medicare fraud prevention grant


Rethinking the business of charity (Nov. 28, 2011)

The holiday season is harvest time for charities. They tout their good works, and hope the public will be in a giving mood. But Robert Egger, who founded a charity called the D.C. Central Kitchen, says there’s a new reality facing non-profits, and it will require a new way of doing business. As part of our series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change” Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson talked with Egger about new approaches to helping people often marginalized by society. Egger says it all started with his chance involvement with a Washington, D.C. church. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Direction unclear for residential psychiatric care (Nov. 22, 2011)

A legislative committee heard nearly five hours of testimony last week on whether the State of Kansas is meeting the needs of children with severe mental health disorders. State funding for mental health services has declined by more than $30 million over the past six years. That’s putting financial pressure on both community-based programs and residential programs that provide more intensive treatment. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story
Sedgwick County senator wants revised SRS referral policy


Protestors disrupt Wichita meeting on childhood poverty (Nov. 17, 2011)

A group of protestors disrupted a meeting in Wichita yesterday on reducing childhood poverty. The meeting was the second of three planned across the state by Governor Sam Brownback. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story
One arrested, one detained during demonstration against Brownback policies


New information surfaces in PRTF controversy (Nov. 15, 2011)

The Legislative Budget Committee isn’t sure yet what — if anything — to do about the recent drop in referrals to inpatient psychiatric facilities for troubled children. The panel heard more than six hours of testimony on the controversy Monday. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Brownback kicks off effort to reduce childhood poverty (Nov. 15, 2011)

True to his campaign promise, Governor Sam Brownback is attempting to convene a statewide conversation on reducing childhood poverty. The Republican governor hosted the first of three meetings Monday in Kansas City, Kansas — one of the poorest and most Democratic communities in the state. Some critics are charging there’s little common ground between the governor’s rhetoric and his policies. The second meeting on childhood poverty is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Wichita. The final meeting will take place at the same time in Garden City on Thursday. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related stories:
Governor launches first of three childhood-poverty forums
Speakers announced for childhood poverty forums


Speaker at poverty meeting controversial (Nov. 15, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback kicked off a series of meetings across the state on childhood poverty Monday promising to take a bipartisan approach. But as Jim McLean of the KHI News Service reports, that pledge is already being called into question. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related stories:
Governor launches first of three childhood-poverty forums
Speakers announced for childhood poverty forums


A massive Medicaid makeover for Kansas (Nov. 14, 2011)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has announced a plan to completely remake the state’s Medicaid program. The major thrust is to put virtually all Medicaid recipients into a managed care program run by private contractors. As part of our series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change,” Bryan Thompson takes a closer look at how this plan might work. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story: Brownback announces managed care for all in Medicaid


Feasibility of Medicaid reform plan questioned (Nov. 14, 2011)

The Medicaid reform plan announced last week by Governor Sam Brownback and his team would privatize the health care program for low-income and disabled Kansans, and steer nearly all of them into managed care. It’s an ambitious effort — some think it may be too ambitious. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.
Related story: Brownback announces managed care for all in Medicaid


Brownback: Medicaid cuts needed despite improving economy (Nov. 14, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback says the state must spend less on Medicaid despite improvements in the economy. The governor made the comments in response to questions about his new plan to overhaul the $2.8 billion healthcare program for low-income and disabled Kansans. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story: Brownback announces managed care for all in Medicaid


Report cites steep decline of mental health funding in Kansas (Nov. 10, 2011)

A new report from a mental health advocacy group says Kansas is one of the states with the deepest cuts in mental health spending. Only seven states and the District of Columbia had sharper reductions over the past four years. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Brownback administration unveils Medicaid reform proposal (Nov. 8, 2011)

Several members of Governor Sam Brownback’s cabinet have been working for months on a plan to transform Medicaid, the $2.8 billion program that provides healthcare to low-income, disabled and elderly Kansans. Yesterday, the administration outlined its proposal at a jam-packed Statehouse news conference. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service was there and files this report. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.
Related story: Brownback announces managed care for all in Medicaid


Medicaid cost reduction proposal announced (short) (Nov. 8, 2011)

After months of work, Governor Sam Brownback unveiled his proposal to transform the state’s $2.8 billion Medicaid program at a Statehouse news conference yesterday. We get more from Jim McLean of the KHI News Service. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Kansas using new system to reduce prescription drug abuse (Nov. 4, 2011)

An online system designed to give doctors and pharmacists quick access to their patients' drug histories is now fully operational in Kansas. The system is part of a nationwide effort to address the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Success stories being compiled to celebrate rural health day (Nov. 1, 2011)

There’s no shortage of challenges facing rural Kansas. Even so, state health officials are spearheading an effort to celebrate what they’re calling the “power of rural.” Jim McLean of the KHI News service explains. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


The standoff over a Kansas exchange (Oct. 31, 2011)

A few months ago, Kansas seemed ahead of the game in preparing for an important requirement of the federal health law. The state had started to plan for exchanges — online marketplaces to help individuals and small businesses compare and buy health insurance. But politics is intervening, Bryan Thompson reports in the Kansas Public Radio series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change.” —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Children’s psychiatric services in crisis (Oct. 26, 2011)

A non-profit agency that provides foster care, adoption, and psychiatric services to Kansas children in crisis is closing most of its operations in Newton, where it opened in 1927. It’s the latest blow to the system of services for troubled children in Kansas...but it may not be the last. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Youthville ends PRTF services in Newton (Oct. 26, 2011)

One of the largest, nonprofit child welfare agencies in Kansas is ending its psychiatric residential treatment facility in Newton because of dwindling referrals to the program. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio.


Praeger warns lawmakers about failure to act on exchange (Oct. 25, 2011)

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger warned members of the Special Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance yesterday about the risk of not complying with a key feature of the federal health reform law. But it’s a risk lawmakers appear willing to take. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


U.S. and Kansas rank low on key health system indicator (Oct. 19, 2011)

A new report on the U-S health care system once again shows the nation is lagging behind other industrialized countries. Both the nation and the state of Kansas get particularly low scores on one important measure. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Kansas nursing home group opposed to CLASS Act repeal (Oct. 18, 2011)

The head of an organization that represents many Kansas nursing homes says repealing a part of the federal health reform law that creates a new long-term care insurance program would be short sighted. Federal officials have concluded the program isn’t financially sustainable. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Restoration of Medicaid dental benefit urged (Oct. 11, 2011)

A coalition of health care advocates is urging Kansas lawmakers to restore dental coverage for adults in the Medicaid program. Budget cuts forced the state to suspend that coverage last year. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


Medicaid overhaul will reorganize state agencies (Oct. 7, 2011)

A reorganization of the state’s social services agency is likely to be a part of a soon-to-be-announced plan to reduce the cost of Medicaid. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


KCK mayor says health improvement plan in the works (Oct. 5, 2011)

Kansas City Kansas Mayor Joe Reardon says a plan to improve Wyandotte County's low health ranking will be announced before the end of the year. Reardon talked about the initiative in a speech Tuesday to members of the National Academy for State Health Policy, who are holding their annual meeting in Kansas City. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


State officials to focus on Health Reform at KC meeting (Oct. 3, 2011)

State officials from across the country will gather in Kansas City this week to talk about progress they’re making in implementing the federal health reform law. As Alan Weil — director of the National Academy of State Health Policymakers, which is hosting the conference — tells KHI's Jim McLean, implementation has been complicated in Kansas and other states where opposition to the law remains high. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service.


KPR story: KU Cancer Center takes the next step (September 21, 2011)

The University of Kansas Cancer Center has finalized its application for National Cancer Institute designation. University officials, political leaders, and major donors gathered in Kansas City Tuesday to celebrate the milestone. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story: KU Cancer Center moves forward with NCI application


State toughening eligibility rules for welfare programs (September 19, 2011)

State officials are making changes in which poor Kansans are eligible for income, childcare and food assistance. Some advocates are concerned the changes are coming at a bad time for many Kansas families. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Nonprofit pioneer says sector should help rebuild economy (September 8, 2011)

Nonprofit organizations must do more than good works. They must transform themselves and help rebuild the American economy. That was the message delivered by nonprofit pioneer Robert Egger in Topeka Wednesday at a meeting sponsored by the Sunflower Foundation. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Nonprofit expert preaches "Capitalism 2.0"


State health reform group to continue its work (August 25, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback’s recent rejection of a $31.5 million dollar federal grant won’t stop planning for how to implement one of the health reform law’s major provisions. That decision was made late yesterday by the group planning Kansas’ health insurance purchasing exchange. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Effort to educate public and lawmakers on insurance exchange will advance


GOP delegates pass strong anti-reform resolution (August 16, 2011)

Kansas Republicans are taking a stand against the federal health reform law. Party leaders have passed a resolution calling on all GOP office holders to reject any federal money offered to help implement the law. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Party takes position against linking new Medicaid eligibility system to controversial health purchasing exchange


Lack of services for disabled could trigger lawsuit (August 12, 2011)

Kansas could end up on the receiving end of a federal lawsuit if it doesn’t start doing a better job of providing services to developmentally and physically disabled Kansans in their homes and communities. That warning was delivered yesterday by Barry Grissom, the U.S. Attorney for Kansas, at the annual meeting of the state Disability Caucus in Topeka. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Lack of services for disabled could trigger federal lawsuit


Brownback returns federal health reform grant (August 10, 2011)

Republican Governor Sam Brownback did an about face Tuesday. He decided to return a $31.5 million federal health reform grant less than six months after agreeing to accept it. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas rejects $31.5 million for insurance exchange


Brownback rejects $31.5-million federal grant (August 10, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback says he’s sending a $31.5 million federal grant back to Washington. The so-called Early Innovator grant was awarded in February by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to pay for the information technology needed to set up a health insurance exchange. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story: Kansas rejects $31.5 million for insurance exchange


Kansas business owners learn about health reform (August 9, 2011)

Several Kansas businesses know a bit more about how the insurance purchasing exchange required by the nation’s new health reform law will affect them thanks to a meeting Monday in Topeka. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Business input sought on insurance exchange (August 8, 2011)

The Kansas Insurance Department wants to know what the state’s business community wants the soon-to-be-created Kansas Insurance Exchange to look like. A series of four public forums gets underway this afternoon in Topeka. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Medicare costs down, benefits up due to Affordable Care Act (August 5, 2011)

New figures from the Department of Health and Human Services indicate Medicare beneficiaries are receiving better health care, and paying less, as a result of preventive services now covered under the Affordable Care Act. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas hospitals see hundreds of heat illnesses (August 3, 2011)

This summer’s merciless heat wave is putting a strain on hospital emergency rooms all over Kansas. More from Kansas Public Radio’s Bryan Thompson. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Wichita, KC among the leaders in fast food consumption (July 27, 2011)

People in Wichita and Kansas City are eating a lot of fast food -- more so than Americans living in most other cities. According to a website devoted to personal finance and business, Wichitans and Kansas Citians rank high on a survey of fast food consumption. KPR's Bryan Thompson takes a look at how the numbers were “crunched.” —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas businesses invited to provide health reform input (July 26, 2011)

Kansas business owners are getting an opportunity to help shape the way that federal health reform is implemented in the state. As this report for Kansas Public Radio details, four meetings have been scheduled across the state specifically to get their input. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas businesses invited to provide health reform input


A new way to track mood changes (July 25, 2011)

Rural Kansas might not be the most obvious place to look for a new technological innovation in the field of mental health. But that’s one of the places where a surprisingly simple way to improve the treatment of mood disorders is being tested. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Poverty rising as safety net frays (July 22, 2011)

Since 1999, the poverty rate has been rising nationwide — especially since the collapse of the financial markets three years ago. Kansas has not been immune. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas senior organizations oppose deficit reduction plan (July 21, 2011)

Two organizations that provide services to elderly Kansans are opposing key parts of a bipartisan deficit reduction plan that’s gaining traction in Washington. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


New roadblocks to psychiatric care for children (July 11, 2011)

Cost-cutting moves by Kansas' Social and Rehabilitation Services agency are affecting these children with severe mental-health problems... and the people who take care of them. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Brownback seeking to overhaul Kansas Medicaid program (July 1, 2011)

Many Kansans would probably be hard pressed to explain the difference between Medicaid and Medicare. Congress created both programs in 1965 at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson. But they serve very different purposes. Everyone qualifies for Medicare at age 65. But eligibility for Medicaid — the health care program for the poor and disabled — differs from state to state. An effort is underway in Kansas to transform Medicaid and reduce its cost. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Moran says fate of health reform uncertain (June 28, 2011)

A celebratory cake was waiting for U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran when he stepped into the boardroom of Topeka’s Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center yesterday. That’s because with the stop, Moran achieved the distinction of having visited all of the state’s hospitals since being elected to Congress. But the celebration quickly turned into a nuts-and-bolts conversation about the nation’s new health reform law. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Medicaid cost cutting task force holding public forums (June 22, 2011)

The first of three public forums on how to reign in Medicaid costs is scheduled for this afternoon in Topeka. State officials are seeking to make big changes in the health insurance program for low-income and disabled Kansans. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Medicaid forum site announced


Estate gift creates KU pharmacy scholarships (June 22, 2011)

The family of a 1940 KU pharmacy grad who went on to head one of the nation’s top pharmaceutical firms has given $1.2 million to the KU Endowment for the School of Pharmacy. The money will help meet a critical need, especially in rural Kansas. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansans in Congress support proposed Medicare changes (May 31, 2011)

Kansas members of Congress have embraced a controversial budget-cutting bill even as some other Republicans are distancing themselves from it. The plan is controversial in part because of changes it would make to Medicare. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Moran backs GOP budget and Medicare overhaul, Roberts not present to vote


Brownback pushes life sciences growth plan (May 25, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback says improving the University of Kansas Medical Center’s National ranking and reducing income taxes to improve the business climate are keys to growing the state’s biosciences economy. Brownback issued the challenge Tuesday during the third of seven economic summits he is holding across the state. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Governor calls medical institutions a key to growing economy


Children’s dental health still lags in Kansas (May 24, 2011)

A new report from the Pew Center on the States says Kansas is not making any progress in addressing the dental needs of children. Kansas met only four of the eight benchmarks in the “Making Coverage Matter” report card again this year. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Group wants legislative support for insurance exchange (May 24, 2011)

The group planning the new state website where more than 500,000 Kansans are eventually expected to purchase their health insurance is starting to make decisions about how the site will function. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Insurance exchange planning group will slacken pace
Related story: Passing exchange legislation will be a challenge, former speaker says


New health reform grant fund established (May 19, 2011)

Five Kansas foundations are forming a $450,000 fund to help non-profit service organizations, health care providers — even cities, school districts and state agencies do the preliminary work necessary to compete for millions of dollars in federal health reform grants. The person who has been hired to administer the fund will also work to ensure that consumers are represented in discussions about how the reform law is implemented in Kansas. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Infant mortality panel to seek alternative funding (May 9, 2011)

Unable to get a federal grant, members of a blue ribbon panel working to lower the state’s infant mortality rate have decided to pursue private funding. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Infant mortality panel agrees to seek private funding for survey work


Kansas infant death rate among worst in nation (April 26, 2011)

Cuba is not a land of plenty. The average worker in the still communist nation makes only about $20 a month. Yet, a baby born there has a greater chance of surviving past its first birthday than a baby born in Kansas. And the gap is even wider for black infants in Kansas. Efforts to change the trend in the state have recently been set back. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the U.S.
Related story: Kansas black infant mortality rate worst in the country
Related story: Road map sets goals for reducing state's alarming infant mortality rate
Related story: National spokesperson on infant mortality to tour Kansas


Japan, radiation and media misinformation (April 25, 2011)

The ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant in Japan has exposed how events at these plants can spin out of control, even when the reactors are shut down. The crisis has also exposed how ill-informed many people are about radiation, and the health threats associated with it. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas Child Death Review Board (April 14, 2011)

Anytime a Kansan younger than 18 dies, that death is investigated by the Kansas State Child Death Review Board. The board was established in 1992 by the Kansas legislature, and is housed in the Office of the Attorney General. It includes representatives from law enforcement, child welfare, and health-related agencies. The board’s 2010 report is based on the 502 deaths that occurred in 2008. The panel’s executive director, Angela Nordus tells more. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Yoder supports effort to transform Medicare (April 7, 2011)

Kansas Congressman Kevin Yoder says Democrats shouldn’t dismiss a new Republican budget plan that among other things calls for overhauling the Medicare program. The first-term Republican from the Kansas City area says major changes are necessary to reduce federal spending and maintain the health care program for seniors. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


More bad news for Southeast Kansas In latest health rankings (March 30, 2011)

This year’s report comparing the health of nearly all of the counties in Kansas looks very much like last year’s report. The southeast part of the state is decidedly less healthy than the rest of Kansas. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story: Wyandotte County health-improvement efforts seen as model
Related story: New report ranks health of Kansas counties


Wyandotte county working to improve health ranking (March 30, 2011)

A report out today ranks Riley County as the healthiest county in Kansas. Cherokee County in the southeast corner of the state is the least healthy. But Wyandotte County is not far behind, ranking 96th out of the 98 counties studied. But Wyandotte County officials have launched a new effort to improve its ranking. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Wyandotte County health-improvement efforts seen as model
Related story: New report ranks health of Kansas counties


The Affordable Care Act marks one year anniversary (March 25, 2011)

The Affordable Care Act, known to some as "Obamacare," became the law of the land one year ago this week. Those opposed to the new health care law hope to repeal it, or at least limit its scope, before it's fully implemented in 2014. At the same time, supporters of the law are moving ahead with preparations to make the transition to the new system as smooth as possible. As part of our series, "Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change," Bryan Thompson and Jim McLean talk about the Affordable Care Act and where we go from here. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service and Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Kansas limits on malpractice damage awards challenged (March 24, 2011)

The Kansas Supreme Court is considering a medical malpractice case that could affect doctors, patients and trial attorneys. At issue is the constitutionality of a state law that limits the amount of money that victims of medical malpractice can collect in court. One victim is challenging the state's cap on damage awards. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas Supreme Court rehears medical malpractice caps case


The Affordable Care Act after one year (March 23, 2011)

The Affordable Care Act, the legislation which will overhaul America’s health care system over the next four years, is one year old today. Whether that’s cause for celebration or outrage depends whom you ask. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story: Republican Perspective: Health debate is far from over
Related story: Democratic perspective: Despite deep divisions, health law will eventually win over public


Effort to repeal smoking ban fails (March 23, 2011)

The Kansas House has given tentative approval to a bill to repeal the smoking ban exemption for state-owned casinos. But members turned back efforts to essentially repeal the smoke-free law. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: House votes to end smoking exemption for state-owned casinos


Smoking ban repeal appears to have little traction (March 22, 2011)

Efforts to repeal or weaken the state’s new ban on smoking in public places don’t appear to have much momentum in the Legislature. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Brownback wants flexibility to cut Medicaid (March 11, 2011)

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is asking the federal government to relax rules prohibiting the state from cutting its Medicaid program. Brownback made the request in a letter to Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Brownback joins other GOP governors in call for Medicaid block grant


Early Head Start compromise in the works (March 10, 2011)

Budget writing committees in the Kansas Legislature are working on compromises to maintain funding for the Early Head Start program. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: House subcommittee tentatively endorses Early Head Start funding


Mental health advocates say budget cuts must stop (March 3, 2011)

Mental Health advocates say cuts proposed for mental health services in Kansas will endanger lives and burden emergency rooms, mental hospitals, and jails statewide. Hundreds of advocates will converge on Topeka today to declare that the mental health system in Kansas is at its breaking point. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


Obama supports health reform flexibility for states (February 27, 2011)

Governor Sam Brownback says that President Obama’s support for legislation that would allow states a more flexibility in implementing health reform is a step in the right direction, but not enough to cause him to drop his opposition to the reform law. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Obama tells governors he backs accelerated state flexibility for health reform


Lt. Gov. Colyer leading effort to cut Medicaid spending (February 20, 2011)

The health reform debate goes well beyond the individual mandate and new insurance regulations. It extends to one of the biggest programs operated by state governments — Medicaid. Like many states headed by new Republican governors, Kansas is looking for ways to sharply reduce its Medicaid spending. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Kansas to get $31.5 million federal reform grant (February 13, 2011)

Kansas is getting a $31.5 million grant to help it develop the information technology for the insurance purchasing exchange it is planning to comply with the federal health reform law. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas getting $31.5 million health exchange grant


Senate leaders skeptical of Health Care Freedom Amendment (February 7, 2011)

The Kansas House may vote this week on a constitutional amendment aimed at blocking parts of the federal health overhaul law. If it passes the House, it appears headed for a cool reception in the Senate. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Senate leadership skeptical of opt-out amendment


Brownback Restructuring KHPA (February 4, 2011)

The Kansas Health Policy Authority is being restructured. The Authority administers the state’s Medicaid program, oversees health benefits for state employees, and provides health policy advice to elected officials. Governor Sam Brownback wants to cut the agency’s staff in half, eliminate its independent board, and reassign the agency’s responsibilities. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Brownback issues order reorganizing KHPA


Proposal aims to expand dental services to Kansans (February 3, 2011)

A group of dentists in Kansas is hoping the Legislature will take steps that could keep dentists in the state. The group hopes having more dentists in Kansas could help make dental services available where they’re currently lacking. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Kansas dentists propose plan to address state’s dental shortage


Schmidt welcomes Florida judge's ruling on health reform (January 30, 2011)

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt welcomed Monday’s ruling by a Florida District judge, striking down the federal health overhaul law. Making Kansas a plaintiff in the Florida case was among Schmidt’s first acts after taking office earlier this month. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Schmidt hails Florida ruling in health reform case


End of the line for Early Head Start? (January 30, 2011)

Early Head Start provides child care and education for infants and toddlers in low-income families. It currently serves more than 1,200 children in 50 counties across the state, but it’s been targeted for elimination by Gov. Sam Brownback. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: State child advocates express confusion over governor's early childhood policy


Moran says Republicans should now work to fix health reform (January 20, 2011)

All four Kansas members of the U-S House voted yesterday to repeal the health care reform law. But with the Senate unlikely to follow suit, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran is saying that Republicans should now focus on making whatever changes in the law they can get the Democrats to agree to. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service
Related story: Moran wants U.S. Senate vote on health reform repealer


Tax credit spurs health coverage (January 10, 2011)

Expanding health insurance coverage is one of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act. Most of the new health care law takes effect in 2014, but parts of it are in effect now. One such part is designed to make coverage available to a group of people who are among the most likely to be uninsured—employees of small businesses. —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio and Phil Cauthon / KHI News Service
Also: KPR's J. Schafer and KHI's Jim McLean discuss the tax credit
Related story: Thousands of in Kansas already benefiting from health reform


Brownback to propose redesign of Medicaid (January 5, 2011)

Governor-elect Sam Brownback says redesigning the state’s massive Medicaid program will be one of his administration’s priorities. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Kathleen Sebelius on health reform (December 21, 2010)

In a conference call with reporters on Monday Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said repealing the federal health reform law would rollback benefits to consumers and leave uninsured Americans without affordable options. —By Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Permit Issued, But Coal Controversy Continues (December 16, 2010)

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has agreed to issue a construction permit to expand a coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas. The decision ends a high-stakes, four-year battle between supporters and opponents of the plant…or does it? —By Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio
Related story: KDHE issues permit for coal-fired power plant




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