Managing Editor, KHI News Service
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Mike Shields, Managing Editor of the KHI News Service, directs news content and special communications projects. Before joining KHI, he was the city editor at the Lawrence Journal-World. He has covered Kansas government as a reporter for Harris News Service and other news organizations for almost three decades. He has won multiple state and national awards, including the Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award in 1993. Shields earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and history from Wichita State University and has a special interest in Geographic Information Systems. He is fluent in Spanish.
The chief of one of the state's main welfare agencies described lessons learned by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback after it shifted about 380,000 Kansans enrolled in Medicaid into managed care plans operated by three national insurance companies.
Members of the National Council on Disability held the first-round of discussions at the Kansas Statehouse, part of a two-day meeting focusing on KanCare and other issues that affect people with disabilities. Today, they were told that a groundbreaking Kansas law intended to boost employment for the disabled so far has failed to meet expectations.
Last year, for the first time since 1954, the Legislature received from the governor and then approved a two-year budget plan, which means many important spending decisions for the coming fiscal year have already been made. "This is a whole new experience coming up," said Duane Goossen, a former budget director for three Kansas governors. "No one in the Legislature or the administration has been in the second year of an existing budget, so it's hard to predict how this session will go."
Kevin Unrein, chief executive and co-owner of a company that operates three Kansas nursing homes, said there is something he would like state policymakers to know about KanCare: “It’s a mess.”
When Beth Hanny first fired off an email to U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, complaining about the notice her husband got from Blue Cross Blue Shield telling him that his health insurance policy wasn't grandfathered under Obamacare, she didn't expect her son would end up as a poster child on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Federal officials have released regulations for a 2008 law that requires insurance companies to cover mental health treatments the same way they cover other medical services.
State policymakers are expected to have less money to spend this fiscal year, according to projections released today that will shape budget plans to be presented by the governor to the Legislature in January. With the revised estimate, lawmakers are expected to have about $485 million less this fiscal year than the year before with a slight rebound forecast for fiscal 2015.
With fewer than 60 days remaining before the second major phase of KanCare is scheduled to start, state and managed care company officials say they continue to lay groundwork for as smooth a launch as can be managed, though there are important details and major tasks that remain to be worked out or completed. Beginning Jan. 1, long-term services for the developmentally disabled will be rolled into the state's Medicaid managed care plans.
Local officials cut the ribbon on the new county hospital here on Oct. 18, but the $30 million facility is sitting unused and will stay that way indefinitely, officials say, because of a phone company SNAFU that has many in this southeast Kansas town perplexed or fuming.
Advocates for disabled Kansans say they are worried that a new set of federal regulations governing workers who provide in-home care will result in diminished services and undermine disabled persons’ ability to choose who helps them with some of the most intimate aspects of daily living.