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.
Direct marketing food to customers is proving to be a boon for members of a western Kansas producers' cooperative that has seen strong sales growth. "For one thing, it has made it possible for my nephew to come back to the farm," said Chris Schmidt, a Rawlins County farmer who grows 2,000 acres of commodity grain but also is selling direct to online customers.
In Kearny County, on the High Plains near the Kansas-Colorado boundary where there are only about five residents per square mile, one small hospital has adopted a distinctive approach to recruitment that in a relatively short time has produced a staff that includes five doctors, five physician assistants and a growing volume of patients.
Kansas Medicaid providers with expansion plans ready to go after spending months and thousands of dollars preparing for the state’s new health homes initiative said they were “shocked” and “disappointed” that state officials abruptly chose to indefinitely delay much of the program’s implementation while giving the providers less than 24 hours' notice of the state’s decision to change course.
Gov. Sam Brownback once called Obamacare “an abomination,” and with the federal health reform law now four years on the books bad-mouthing it has become a conservative Republican ritual. But this week, after more than a year of planning and preparation by Kansas and federal officials, the Affordable Care Act and Brownback’s own KanCare initiative begin coming together in ways that will make the two programs indistinguishable to thousands of Kansas Medicaid beneficiaries.
According to a new report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, enrollment in Medicaid-CHIP - together branded as KanCare - rose in April to a historic high of 426,642 people, or roughly one in seven Kansans. That’s up from 396,374 in April 2013.
Providers of home- and community-based Medicaid services and their state overseers are preparing for a raft of new federal rules intended to assure that the people who receive the services have more say in how they are helped and that their living conditions are “non-institutional.”
Some small, rural Kansas hospitals are using highly sophisticated medical robots in ways that are helping ease the shortage of specialists in their areas and - in at least one instance - boosting the bottom line.
A private meeting among political insiders in a Statehouse office soon after Gov. Sam Brownback took office may have been pivotal to a subsequent privatization initiative that occurred with no significant public debate. This is a story about Kansas government and the blending of politics, policy and procurement.
Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, will become the state budget director and Kari Bruffett, head of the division of health care finance at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, will step in as KDADS chief.
State Medicaid officials said they expect more than 13,000 Kansans currently eligible but not enrolled in the program will sign up for it by July 2015 due to greater awareness of the program from the Affordable Care Act and KanCare. The information was presented at a meeting of the Legislature's KanCare oversight committee as part of a packed agenda that included complaints from Medicaid providers and responses from KanCare company executives.