News

Elle Moxley / KCUR

KC Water officials say a rigorous testing protocol should keep what happened in Flint, Michigan, from happening here.

“We’re trying to make sure the water is the best we can get out of here,” says plant manager Mike Klender. “We live in the city. We drink our water.”

The ongoing crisis in Flint began when the city switched to a new water source, but Kansas City is still pumping from the source it’s relied on for 80 years: the Missouri River.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Committees in the Kansas House and Senate have introduced Medicaid expansion bills modeled after a plan implemented last year in Indiana.

The identical measures, drafted by the Kansas Hospital Association, would provide coverage to approximately 150,000 low-income but non-disabled adults by making them eligible for KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Tom Bell, president and chief executive of KHA, said the proposal was written with input from Kansas lawmakers, who he said wanted something patterned after Indiana's "consumer-driven plan." 

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Some Kansas health insurers are seeking legal permission to sell network-only plans — with the help of the state’s top insurance regulator.

The office of Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer supports a bill that would allow insurers to sell “exclusive provider organization,” or EPO, plans that provide no reimbursement for out-of-network health care except in the case of emergency.

Crystal Lee Farris

Your Friend
Gumption (Domino)

Imagine slowly submerging into a muddy Midwestern lake. Rays of light pierce the surface, illuminating bubbles and small creatures. But it’s hard to tell what’s going on as you sink deeper, losing a sense of how far you are from the surface. Lawrence, Kansas, artist Taryn Miller, who plays under the moniker Your Friend, imposes this sense of disorientation in her debut album Gumption.

Marcy Oehmke / Linn High School

An estimated 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease.

That number is projected to nearly triple by 2050 as the U.S. population trends older. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and no treatments shown to slow its progress.

Clay County, in north central Kansas, has the nation's highest rate of people on Medicare diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. At 22 percent, it’s roughly double the rate in surrounding counties, as well as state and national averages.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

City officials kicked off a campaign to save Kansas City’s 1 percent earning tax Monday at Union Station.

It’s sometimes called a “fly over” tax by opponents because about half of the people who pay it commute from the suburbs to work in the city.

“I don’t care whether you call it an earnings tax or a fly-over tax or a ground tax or a water tax or whatever the heck you call it, $230 million would have to be replaced,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is suing shuttered Kansas City charter school Hope Academy to the tune of $3.7 million.

An audit released last month found the school grossly overstated its daily attendance, resulting in millions of dollars in overpayments from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Hope Academy claimed 97 percent attendance. But only about a third of students ever showed up for class.

The University of Kansas Hospital

Anticipating strong patient demand, The University of Kansas Hospital plans to add four floors to the Cambridge North Patient Tower now under construction just northeast of the hospital complex in Kansas City, Kan.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Joe Nunnink says he has "the greatest job in the world."  The Kansas City-native is the master builder at Legoland Discovery Center at Crown Center.    

Nunnink played with Legos as a kid, but had set the iconic toys aside for more ‘grown up” art utensils when he went to the Kansas City Art Institute to study animation. After graduating, Joe worked as a bank teller while searching for another job.

KHI News Service

A new computer system for enrolling Kansans in Medicaid and other public assistance programs will generate far less than the expected $300 million in savings, a Legislative Post Audit report finds.

The Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System (KEES) was intended to be a central portal where people could apply for benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and cash assistance, and the state could automatically verify their eligibility.

Courtesy photo / Cerner Corp.

Neal Patterson, the CEO and co-founder of health technology giant Cerner Corp., says he has cancer.

He made the announcement Monday in a letter to shareholders and employees, which the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Officials from Lawrence Memorial Hospital returned Friday to the Statehouse armed with details about ongoing problems they’re having with the companies that manage KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

For almost a year, presidential candidates have been crisscrossing Iowa, wooing voters in a state that relies on agriculture for about one-third of its economy. But even here, most voters live in cities or suburbs and don’t have a first-hand connection to the farm.

That makes it difficult to get candidates talking about food system issues from school lunches, to crop supports, to water quality. Yet these all fall under the federal agriculture department. If candidates aren’t talking about them in Iowa, it’s possible they’ll be left out of the campaigns entirely.

Google Earth

The full Kansas City Council followed a committee recommendation this week and voted down an ordinance that sought to preserve three apartment buildings in the 4700 block of Summit. 

The final vote was 9-3 not to seek historic status to save the buildings.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Eds note: This post originally stated that an initiative seeking to decriminalize marijuana in Kansas City would require more than 3,400 signatures from registered voters in order to be considered by the Kansas City Council for voters. That is true for referendum efforts, not initiative petitions.

Initiative petitions only require signatures equal to 5 percent of votes cast for mayor in the last municipal election. By that reasoning, only 1,708 valid signatures will be required. The text below has been changed to reflect the correct numbers.

Courtesy / Kansas City Chiefs

Wow. That was some game against the Patriots, huh? Twenty-seven to nothing at halftime. Tom Brady benched with nearly a whole quarter left. And how about Jamaal Charles?

Jim Mathis for Johnson County Library

Christopher Leitch, the library's community relations coordinator, says after nine months of construction at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, there was lots of anticipation — even before the doors opened to the public at 9 a.m. on Friday. 

"We had a line of people at 8:45 a.m., waiting for their new library to be available," said Leitch. 

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Sprint Corp. is laying off more than 800 employees at its Overland Park headquarters.

The telecommunications company filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, or WARN, notice with the state of Kansas late Friday. The firm said it's letting go a total of 829 workers.

A panel of legislators Friday reversed their recommendation of a lifetime ban on hepatitis C drugs for Medicaid patients who don’t comply with their treatment regimen.

Members of the Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight walked back on the recommendation they made in December  after hearing from Mike Randol, who heads the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Division of Health Care Finance.

File Photo / Paul Andrews

 

The challenges facing the American Jazz Museum will fall to new leadership.

Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner takes the reins of the 20-year-old organization after spending the past 25 years with the Kansas City Public Library.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

A Jackson County grand jury has returned additional charges against Thu Hong Nguyen, the woman accused of setting the fire that killed two Kansas City firefighters last year.

John Mesh and Larry Leggio died battling the Oct. 12 blaze that injured two other firefighters and reduced a 16-unit apartment building to rubble.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

If you're the parent of young children — especially under the age of 5 — it might be difficult to picture them at a classical music concert. No talking, listening quietly, sitting still, and not kicking the seat in front of them for more than a hour? 

The Kansas City Symphony is working to break down some of those perceived barriers with a new program called Petite Performances — for the youngest audiences, ages zero to 6. This series invites listeners on stage for a short concert at Helzberg Hall, up close to the musicians and their instruments. 

Jennifer Morrow / Flickr--CC

Updated at 4:56 p.m.

In a sweeping decision, the Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled that the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion and blocked a Kansas law banning the second-trimester abortion method known as “dilation and evacuation.”

The ruling represents a major victory for abortion rights activists, who contended the ban increased the complexity and risk of second-trimester abortions. And it marks the first time a Kansas appellate court has found a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.

United Methodist Church of the Resurrection

A downtown Kansas City mainstream denomination church is bucking the trend of declining religious affiliation and shrinking church attendance.

The United Methodist  Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, established a downtown campus six years ago. 

Currently, Resurrection Downtown meets a brick commercial building at 1522 McGee that looks more like an industrial supply company than a church. But like the mega-church that gave it life, the downtown church is no average storefront church.  

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

High on the Nebraska plains, there’s a citrus grove with trees holding up a canopy of lemons, grapefruit-sized oranges, green figs, and bunches of grapes.

Yes, it’s indoors. And it’s only possible because it taps in to the core of the earth’s own energy, geothermal heating in the winter and cooling in the summer.

Russ Finch, a former mail carrier and farmer, designed the greenhouse, which he calls the Greenhouse in the Snow. The original, which he built more than 20 years ago, is connected to his home.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

The state will try to get Osawatomie State Hospital back into Medicare’s good graces within the next six months, officials told a joint legislative committee Thursday.

Tim Keck, interim secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said the department will pursue recertification for Osawatomie, ending several weeks of speculation.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in December that it would halt Medicare payments to Osawatomie due to security issues that had come to light after the reported rape of an employee by a patient.

The White House

White House Press Secretary and Kansas City native Josh Earnest called Mayor Sly James one of the three best in America during Thursday’s briefing to reporters.

James is in Washington, D.C., for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Along with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Fresno, California, Mayor Ashley Swearengin, James participated in the daily briefing.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

A proposed bill would cross-check Kansans receiving cash assistance, food stamps or subsidized child care with a list of lottery winners who received more than $10,000, Republican lawmakers said Thursday.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Republican from Shawnee who spoke at a Statehouse news conference about the bill, said she wasn’t aware of any cases in Kansas where a lottery winner continued to collect assistance, but similar incidents in other states generated widespread anger.

“This is very important to protect the taxpayers,” she said.

Moondrop Circus / Facebook

It’s shaping up to be quite the magical weekend, including opportunities to behold satiric sorcery, partake of enchanting eating deals and be mesmerized by momentous sleight of hand on the basketball court.

Your mission: Get out and see what pleasures can be conjured before the weekend spell is broken.

A wand shouldn’t be necessary. Although waving your arms around in a wizardly way would seem irresistible. Anyway, that’s my plan.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The American Jazz Museum's board of directors on Thursday announced that Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner will be the museum's next executive director. 

"There was no question ... that Cheptoo has the broad perspective, experience, and community knowledge to be able to help us hit the ground running and accelerate our progress," said board chair Trey Runnion in a news release. 

Pages