Executive Editor, KHI News Service
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Jim McLean, Executive Editor of KHI News Service, oversees the KHI News Service. From 2005 until 2013, McLean coordinated all communications activities at KHI as Vice President for Public Affairs. The position he now occupies was created as part of a strategic initiative to solidify the editorial and operational independence of the KHI News Service. Prior to coming to KHI, McLean had a distinguished career as a journalist, serving as the news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. During his more than 20 years in Kansas journalism, McLean won numerous awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In 1997, McLean and two Capital-Journal colleagues received the Burton W. Marvin News Enterprise Award from the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism for a series of stories on the state’s business climate. McLean holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washburn University.
A dispute between advocates for developmentally disabled Kansans and the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback has the potential to complicate budget negotiations and the end of the legislative session.
Parents and legislators met in Olathe with KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan to talk about the issue of including long-term supports for the developmentally disabled in KanCare. Rep. John Rubin was among those who have concluded it would be a bad idea. But Sullivan said expanding KanCare would leave the current system in place while improving health outcomes and reducing costs. Rubin said he and others would try to persuade fellow lawmakers to continue the current "carve-out."
Push is again coming to shove in the struggle over whether the long-term care and support services received by Kansans with developmental disabilities will become part of KanCare or remain outside the control of the private companies hired by the state to manage the Medicaid program.
Advocates pushing Kansas officials to expand Medicaid acknowledge it is unlikely they will achieve their goal this year. But they said they remain hopeful they can convince Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators next year to make more Kansans eligible for the program.
The Kansas House tied itself in knots today over a bill to allow insurance companies to market “mandate lite” health insurance policies in the state. Members voted in the morning to reject the bill but abruptly reversed themselves in the afternoon. The whole thing took hours of debate as legislators pushed to conclude the regular session before taking a month-long break. The measure, part of a legislative package included in a conference committee report, passed the Senate earlier this week. It now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback for signature.
Legislators negotiating a compromise tax-cut bill today jettisoned controversial proposals to reduce income tax credits for low-earning Kansans and exempt private health clubs from property taxes. The health club exemption appears dead for the session. The bill to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit in half may not be dead but conference committee members excluded it from a tentative list of measures to be included in a final tax package. However, Senate negotiators said they may want to argue for its inclusion later.
A downturn in March tax collections has become an issue in negotiations between the House and Senate on legislation that would make additional cuts in state income tax rates.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has created a disaster response team to help the American Red Cross provide relief to Kansans in times of need.
House and Senate negotiators have agreed on legislation establishing a joint committee to oversee KanCare and state efforts to develop home and community-based alternatives to institutional care. They also discussed bundling a number of other health-related measures into a 'mega bill.'
Members of a coalition that includes more than 30 Kansas organizations were at the Statehouse to present Gov. Sam Brownback a petition urging him to approve expansion of the state's Medicaid program. But the governor told news reporters he continues to be concerned about the potential long-term costs of adding people to the program. "We've got to be able to afford it. That's the bottom line," he said.