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Phil Cauthon

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Deputy AG among those testifying at hearing on navigator restriction bill

A hearing was held today on a bill that would add restrictions for the application counselors who help people enroll in health coverage through the new federal marketplace in Kansas.

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Hearing set for bill to restrict Obamacare navigators

Similar law in Missouri struck down by federal judge

A bill that would put the Attorney General Office in charge of certifying Kansas application counselors or "navigators" for the new federal health insurance marketplace is scheduled for a legislative hearing next week. The measure is similar to one recently blocked by a federal court in Missouri.

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Kansas dental program for children set to resume following KanCare glitch

A program that provided oral health care to children in Head Start before it was effectively terminated by KanCare is nearly set to resume, officials say. "We've revised all of our payment policies and the codes will be consistent with what was covered prior to KanCare," said Timothy Spilker, president of United’s Kansas health plan.

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KanHIT Advisory Council urged to craft 'secondary data use' policy

New regulatory panel for health information exchange in the state meets for the first time

Members of a new advisory council for the state's health information exchange said it was urgent to start work on policies to ensure the privacy of patient information and to determine who will have access to the data generated by the digital exchange.

Proposal to triple cigarette tax introduced

A bill that would triple the tax on cigarettes was introduced in the House Health and Human Services Committee. House Bill 2672 would raise the tax from $.79 to $2.29 per pack. It would also increase the tax on other tobacco products from 10 percent to 78 percent.

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Grad students from around the state display potential benefits of their work

Statehouse exhibition featured several health-related research projects

More than 50 graduate students from four state universities were in the Statehouse today showing legislators how their research could benefit the state economically.

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Statehouse push made for mid-level dental practitioners

More than 100 advocates donned yellow scarves and press legislators to approve new licensing category

More than 100 advocates from around the state were at the Statehouse asking their legislators to approve the licensing of mid-level dental practitioners. Among them were dental hygienists, hygiene students and a handful of dentists. Most wore yellow scarves.

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Drug monitoring program flagging more patients using new software

Number of potential prescription abusers identified up more than sixfold

The number of patients flagged by the state's prescription drug monitoring program increased more than sixfold after officials began using new software last year.

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Kansas REC gets funding extension, approval to help more docs

The regional extension center created four years ago to help Kansas health care providers implement electronic health records has been approved for extended funding from the federal government, just as the funds were set to expire.

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KEES to be fully functional sometime this year, officials say

In the meantime, state Medicaid officials using low-tech approach to enroll Kansans

Kansas new $137 million Medicaid eligibility enrollment system will be up and running in "weeks or months rather than years," state Medicaid officials told members of the Senate's health committee today.

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Safety net funding cut gets first nod toward restoration

$300,000 boost recommended by House budget committee during visit by clinic officials

Officials from Kansas safety net clinics got some promising news while visiting the Statehouse this week as part of their annual Legislative Day: A budget committee will recommend restoring the $234,584 cut from the clinics' funding in the fiscal 2015 budget.

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Kansas nurses to push for more independence from doctors

Scope-of-practice bill will meet opposition from Kansas Medical Society

Kansas’ growing doctor shortage could be addressed by allowing nurses with advanced skills to work more independently of physicians, say those advocating a change in state law that would make that possible. But the state's leading doctor group is opposed to the initiative, saying it would allow nurses leeway to do virtually anything that doctors do.

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Corporate ag initiative shelved for 2014 session

Administration officials, lobbyists say more groundwork needed before pursuing changes

Last year the Department of Agriculture and the state’s top ag lobbyists began urging legislators to remove restrictions in the state's corporate farming laws, saying that would help spur jobs and economic growth. Though that effort will continue, administration officials and major ag industry lobbyists said they would not attempt to change the law this year.

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First meeting set for new health information exchange panel

KanHIT advisory committee scheduled to meet Feb. 17

The first meeting of a new regulatory panel for health information exchange in Kansas is slated for Feb. 17, nine months after the previous regulatory body was dissolved by the Legislature.

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New data shows Obamacare enrollment surge in December

Administration touts numbers as indication of health reform law's success

Enrollment in health insurance via the Obamacare insurance marketplace surged in December, with 1.8 million people enrolling last month versus just 400,000 in October and November combined. Federal officials reported that 14,242 Kansans have selected a marketplace plan so far and 5,508 were steered to Medicaid by the marketplace.

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Americans for Prosperity joins effort to license mid-level dental providers

"Really it's about the free market in the realm of professional licensure," said Jeff Glendening, state director for the Kansas Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. "For us, this issue is really about 'Is government the best at telling consumers who should providing their services?' This allows the market to dictate that. The benefit of that is greater access in underserved areas around the state."

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Profiles of the coverage gap: Kathleen Christian

Kathleen Christian is in the so-called "coverage gap" — too poor for tax subsidies, not eligible for Medicaid so long as Kansas refuses to expand the program as provided for by the Affordable Care Act. Christian said she lays equal blame on President Obama and Gov. Sam Brownback, who has opposed provisions of the ACA from the beginning. "They're just a bunch of boys having an argument about who's better than who. It's all a political game for them. I don't think they're really seeing what they're doing to people," she said.

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Efforts continue to expand Medicaid in Kansas and Missouri

Advocates in each state taking similar tacks in hopes of coaxing reluctant Republican policymakers

The political dynamics are a bit different in Kansas than in Missouri, but in both states supporters of expanded Medicaid programs are taking the same tack in hopes of persuading reluctant Republican policymakers to eliminate the so-called "Medicaid gap" that is leaving more than 340,000 low-income Kansans and Missourians without health insurance.

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Kansas HIE networks connected ‘live’ for first time

Five days of glitches between two networks seemingly resolved

It was deja vu all over again for Kansas officials who ran into technical glitches trying to launch a statewide network for exchanging patient data. But unlike the troubled Obamacare website launch, network officials in Kansas have resolved their problems taking the connection 'live' after five days.

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No announcement on the future of Rainbow Mental Health Facility — yet

Officials tell Mental Health Coalition that announcement will come in January

A long-awaited announcement on the future of the Rainbow Mental Health Facility did not come today as many expected at the monthly meeting of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition.

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Network execs confident they will meet looming HIE deadline

Networks must be interconnected by Dec. 31 or forfeit licenses and $1 million in federal funds

HIE network executives say they are confident they can complete interconnection in time for federal deadline. Hanging in the balance are the networks' licenses to operate in the state as well as $1 million in federal incentive funds.

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Interim director takes reins at statewide suicide prevention hotline

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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Review: Kansas reporter tells story of life-and-death fight with meningitis

A personal account of a 22-year-old coming to terms with amputations

A new book by a Topeka newspaper reporter tells the story behind his life-and-death fight with bacterial meningitis. It essentially is a success story centered on answers he found to life's fundamental questions in the process of being healed.

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Ag secretary Rodman to step down

Deputy secretary McClaskey to lead agency starting next week

Gov. Sam Brownback has replaced his Secretary of Agriculture, administration officials announced today. Outgoing secretary Dale Rodman's last day will be Dec. 10. Jackie McClaskey, who has been deputy secretary since July, will become the new head of the agency.

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New twist in Kansas budget making

Legislators set for second half of two-year cycle for the first time in decades

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."

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KanCare reimbursement problems continue for providers

Special legislative oversight committee gets update on efforts to solve ongoing problems with state’s Medicaid managed care program

Nearly a year after the state’s transition to a Medicaid managed care program, hospitals and other providers continue to report problems.

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White House officials hold call to urge Medicaid expansion in Kansas

Gov. Brownback likens Medicaid expansion to Obama's pledge: "If you like your plan, you can keep it"

White House officials held a news conference with Kansas State Rep. Barbara Ballard to make the case for expanding Medicaid eligibility in Kansas.

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More Kansas children living in poverty, fewer receiving temporary aid

Authors of new report criticize administration for making welfare programs less accessible

In 2012, more than 23 percent of children lived in poverty. That's up from 21 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, the average monthly enrollment in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) had dropped to about 21,600 from nearly 26,000 last year, according to a new report.

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Former ag secretaries say Farm Bill fails to promote healthy diets

Democrat Glickman and Republican Veneman co-author "Health Affairs" article

As Farm Bill negotiations grind on in Congress, Dan Glickman has coauthored a paper that he said he hopes will prime the pump for improved Farm Bills in the future. Glickman — a former U.S. Agriculture secretary and a former Kansas congressman — wrote "The Essential Role of Food and Farm Policy In Improving Health."

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Patient health exchange networks agree to connect

Opens door for doctors statewide to exchange digital patient records

The two networks that comprise Kansas' digital health information exchange have agreed on terms for interconnecting. That paves the way for a unified network via which doctors statewide can exchange digital patient records.

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Kansas dental program for children on hold because of KanCare MCO

UnitedHealthcare CEO says company working to resolve problem

If state-run Medicaid had its problems, one area that was working well in Kansas was providing oral health care to kids via programs like Kansas Cavity Free Kids, say officials at Head Start. But the program has been on hold for months while KanCare payment problems get worked out.

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State income tax cuts putting pressure on local communities

KU conference on 'Kansas fiscal experiment' attracts record crowd including legislators

A University of Kansas conference in its 37th year had record turnout today for a discussion of the "Kansas Fiscal Experiment" enacted by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback. Local officials said more of the burden of sustaining public services now falls on them.

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The Kansas insurance marketplace that might have been

Colorado’s insurance marketplace up and running smoothly under former Kansas IT leadership

Perhaps it is a case of could-have-been. Gary Schneider, the technology expert who was set to lead Kansas' marketplace development until Gov. Brownback opted against it, left instead for Colorado. In Colorado, so far, things are going smoothly with its marketplace, Schneider said.

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Kansas suicide rate rises dramatically

More than 30% spike in suicides among the findings in 2012 vital statistics report

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has released the state's 2012 Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, along with a letter from secretary Dr. Robert Moser saying he is "deeply concerned" by the sharp increase in the suicide rate.

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Pilot project aims to reduce billing errors at local health departments

Effort is timely as more clients expected to be paying via health insurance coverage soon

A new pilot program aimed at improving health departments' billing capability may be beginning just in time — before potentially thousands more Kansans get insurance coverage under Obamacare.

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Kansas' drug monitoring program credited with helping keep overdoses low

Kansas OD rate 8th lowest in U.S. at about 1 in 10,000, new report finds

Kansas has among the lowest rates of drug overdose in the country, likely due in part to its prescription drug monitoring program, according to a new report.

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Disputing parties enter formal mediation over mid-level dental providers

Goal is to bring a proposal back to the Legislature

The gridlock over licensing mid-level dental providers in Kansas may be entering a new phase. The parties at odds over the issue have entered formal mediation with the aim of taking a mutually approved compromise to the Legislature.

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Security and privacy of patient data subject of regulatory hearing

Representatives of patients, providers, insurers and tech companies testify before federal panel

Health information technology is being rapidly adopted and the number of patients whose information is being digitized and exchanged over networks is likewise growing in leaps and bounds. But some of the basic rules have yet to be written, regulating users of health information technology and protecting the security and privacy of patient information.

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Mass shootings present opportunity to improve mental health care, officials say

Saturday forum in Kansas City to feature HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius

A mental health forum in Kansas City on Saturday will feature HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "In the aftermath of the tragedy at Newtown, there’s been an opening for these conversations to begin. While we know that the vast majority of Americans who struggle with a mental illness are not violent, as a nation, we’ve begun to ask what we can do to make sure our neighbors, friends, and family members can get the help they need," Sebelius said.

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Medicaid and mental health coalitions find strength in numbers

Groups have in common five-year-old training program by Sunflower Foundation

Two Kansas coalitions working to promote expansion of Medicaid and stronger mental health services have common ties, including the benefit of some advocacy training from the Sunflower Foundation.

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High-tech gear helps disabled live independent, healthier lives

Hundreds attend expo in Topeka

Nearly 700 people got a look at the latest technology developed to help people with disabilities at the Assistive Technology Expo. The semi-annual event is organized by Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK), a federally funded center at the University Kansas that connects people with disabilities and health conditions with tools to help them learn, work, play, and live independently.

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Governor touts waiting list reduction plan

State funds now available to move about 650 people into services, officials say

Gov. Sam Brownback and other state officials held a press conference to announce that state funds are available to begin reducing the waiting lists for home- and community-based Medicaid services. About 650 people are expected to benefit.

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E-cigarettes on the rise, but still unregulated

Expert says they could be effective in quitting cigarettes or even more addictive, depending on how regulated

Nationwide e-cigarettes are booming, with annual sales projected to reach $1.7 billion by year’s end. However, the battery-operated devices — which vaporize liquid containing nicotine — have yet to be regulated by the federal government, though officials have pledged for two years now that they ultimately will be.

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Deadline looming for state's patient record exchange

Clock ticking on data-sharing agreement needed to give doctors ability to access digital patient records statewide

Kansas’ health information exchange has been years and millions of dollars in the making but because of an ongoing dispute between its two networks, it still lacks the capability to handle the exchange of digital patient records across the entire state.

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Cerner campus opens with governor's praise for job and economy growth

Health information technology center to service world-wide demand for patient information

Gov. Sam Brownback, a dozen legislators and about 50 other community and business leaders were on hand today for the ceremonial opening of Cerner Corp.'s new campus here. The health information technology company’s new 660,000-square-foot campus is located on the east edge of the Legends shopping district and visible from interstates 70 and 435.

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Report: Job injuries highest among health care workers

There are more work injuries in the U.S. health care industry than in any other and government safety regulators are doing too little about it, according to a new report.

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U.S. Senate report critical of dental clinic chains

Small Smiles chain should be booted from Medicaid program, report recommends

A two-year investigation by the U.S. Senate concludes that corporate-owned dental chains have provided substandard care to poor children covered by Medicaid, while overbilling the joint federal-state program.

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Audit ordered of potential conflicts of interest in DD service delivery

Advocates say the move is 'political payback' for their opposition to including DD services in KanCare

Members of the joint Legislative Post Audit Committee today voted 5-4 to order an audit of the state's Community Developmental Disability Organizations, or CDDOs.

KDHE begins day-to-day duties of HIE regulation

The day-to-day duties of regulating network-based, digital exchange of patient information in Kansas were fully passed off to the state this week, and the previous regulatory body — the Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. — has been officially dissolved.

More than 240 patients possibly exposed to HIV and Hepatitis at SEK hospital

Officials say warnings have been mailed to individual patients

Health officials say 244 people who had colonoscopies at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute are being notified they might have been infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV due to improper cleaning of the hospital's equipment. Free blood screens are offered for those who might have been exposed

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