Jim McLean

Reporter and Editor, Heartland Health Monitor

McLean oversees the KHI News Service, an editorially independent reporting program of the Kansas Health Institute. Before joining KHI, McLean was news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. McLean has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

McLean reports for the Heartland Health Monitor team, a reporting collaboration among KCUR Public Media, KCPT Public Television, Kansas Public Raido and KHI News Service.

Heartland Health Monitor
1:37 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

KCK ‘Healthy Campus’ Another Step Closer To Reality

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan., in October unveiled this master plan for the development of a 'healthy campus' west of downtown Kansas City, Kan.
Credit Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kan.


A multimillion-dollar plan to transform downtown Kansas City, Kan., into a national model is one step closer to reality.

The Unified Government Board of Commissioners last week unanimously approved a new master development plan designed to help improve the health of Kansas City and other Wyandotte County residents by providing a state-of-the-art community center, more green space in which to exercise and access to healthy foods at a 30,000- to 35,000-square-foot urban grocery store.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:17 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Attempt To Lift Pit Bull Ban In Wyandotte County Fails

Residents of Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County stand to indicate their position on a proposal to lift a county ban on pit bulls during Thursday's meeting of the Unified Government Commission.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service


The Unified Government’s commission chambers were jam-packed on Thursday night.

It wasn’t a controversy over a multi-million bond issue that brought people out. It wasn’t even the final step in the approval process for the city’s “healthy campus” downtown redevelopment plan.

It was a proposed change in the way the city deals with feral cats, stray dogs and pit bulls.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:53 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Newly Re-elected Kansas House Speaker Vows To Cut Spending

The newly re-elected speaker of the Kansas House reiterated on Monday that he would rather deal with the state’s budget problems by cutting spending than by revisiting the tax cuts that are shrinking state revenues.

Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, was overwhelmingly elected to a second term as speaker, defeating Rep. Virgil Peck of Tyro, 80-16.

Republicans now hold a 97- to 28-seat majority in the House.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:03 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Kansas Hospitals Continue Push For Medicaid Expansion

The Kansas Hospital Association on Thursday continued its campaign for Medicaid expansion by reminding policymakers how much the state is losing by not claiming federal dollars to cover more low-income adults.

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Heartland Health Monitor
4:57 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

GOP Lawmakers Reject Request For KanCare Investigative Committee

Republican members of a joint legislative committee say there’s no need to launch a state investigation into allegations that lobbyists connected to Gov. Sam Brownback engaged in “pay to play” deals involving KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat and member of the KanCare Oversight Committee, on Tuesday urged members to recommend the formation of an investigative committee in a report they’re preparing for legislative leaders.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:35 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Rising KanCare Costs Add To Kansas Budget Problems

State officials will need to find an additional $40 million to meet rising KanCare costs in the current budget year, according to caseload estimates compiled by the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department.

KanCare is the name of the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Also, an anticipated increase in the number of children in the foster care system will require an additional $10.2 million in state funding in the current budget year, which ends June 30.

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Heartland Health Monitor
12:11 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Kansas Consumers Have More ACA Enrollment Options

Sherry Calderwood, a waitress at a Topeka breakfast spot frequented by legislators and lobbyists, didn’t buy insurance through the Obamacare marketplace last year but will this year to cover the cost of treating a recently diagnosed blood disorder.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service


Sherry Calderwood wishes she could turn back the clock.

Last fall, she and her husband decided not to purchase health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace because it cost too much.

RELATED STORY: Kansas City Groups Target Hard-To-Reach For Health Insurance 

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Heartland Health Monitor
8:43 am
Tue November 11, 2014

KanCare Architect Moser Stepping Down From KDHE Post

Dr. Robert Moser has announced he will step down as head of the Kansas Department of Health & Environment at the end of November.
Credit KHI News Service

Dr. Robert Moser has resigned as secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

His resignation will be effective at the end of the month.

Moser broke the news to the agency’s staff late Monday afternoon in an email.

“I am stepping down from my current position as KDHE secretary and state health officer effective the end of November,” Moser said.

Moser said “it was a hard decision” to leave the state’s public health and Medicaid agency.

“However, it is the right time for me and my family to look at other opportunities,” he said.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:33 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Still On Table In Kansas, Missouri Following Elections

While the election returned Gov. Sam Brownback to office and solidified conservatives' control of the Legislature, Kansas hospitals are moving ahead with plans to put a Medicaid expansion plan before lawmakers.
Credit Andy Marso / KHI News Service


Kansas hospitals are moving ahead with plans to put a Medicaid expansion plan before lawmakers despite election results that returned Gov. Sam Brownback to office and solidified conservatives’ control of the Legislature.

Democrat Paul Davis favored expansion but came up short in his bid to upset Brownback, a Republican who thus far has opposed expansion. Also, several Democratic House members who likely would have favored expansion lost narrowly to GOP challengers.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:41 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Brownback Policies Cutting Welfare Rolls But Not Poverty Rate

Poverty is a political issue in Kansas.

Gov. Sam Brownback campaigned in 2010 on a platform that included as one of its main goals reducing childhood poverty.  And since taking office, he has aggressively pursued that goal. But he’s done it his way.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:50 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Health Care Compact Gains Attention As Campaign Issue

A once-obscure effort by a group of states to get out from under federal health care regulations has become an issue in the final days of the Kansas governor’s race.

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:03 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Candidates Battling For Insurance Post Differ On Big Issues

The top-of-the-ticket races may be commanding the most attention in this year’s Kansas election, but significant issues also are in play in some of the down-ballot contests.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:47 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Affordable Care Act Gets Mixed Reviews At Kansas Economic Conference

Former Kansas Medicaid official Andy Allison spearheaded the expansion effort in Arkansas as director of that state’s program. He says an infusion of young and relatively healthy Medicaid recipients into Arkansas’ private insurance market is pushing down rates for everyone else.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service



Which of the following is true?

  • The Affordable Care Act has provided thousands of low-income Kansas with greater access to affordable health insurance.
  • A looming ACA mandate has caused some Kansas employers to hire fewer full-time workers and instead fill positions with part-time employees.
  • The combination of reductions in Medicare rates and the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid eligibility has put Kansas hospitals in a financial bind.

The correct answer is “all of the above.”

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Heartland Health Monitor
10:17 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Davis Vows To Reverse Controversial KanCare Decision If Elected

Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for Kansas governor, said on Wednesday that support services for developmentally disabled Kansans should not be part of KanCare, the state's privatized Medicaid program.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis says if elected, he will reverse Gov. Sam Brownback’s controversial decision to put the private companies managing the state’s Medicaid program in charge of delivering support services to Kansans with developmental disabilities.

Brownback, a conservative Republican seeking a second term, privatized the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program in 2013 and renamed it KanCare to achieve two — and some say conflicting — goals of improving care and reducing costs.

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Heartland Health Monitor
11:19 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Kansas Losing Ground In Efforts To Help Disabled Land Jobs

Tim Musil, left, with Coder Engineering in Topeka, spoke at an event Monday where a new jobs initiative for Kansans with disabilities was announced. At right is Mike Donnelly, director of rehabilitation services at the Department of Children and Families.
Credit Dave Ranney / KHI News Service

State officials are intensifying their efforts to help Kansans with disabilities get jobs.

But advocates in the disability community are skeptical that an initiative announced Monday will be enough to reverse a recent trend that has seen a steady decline in the number of Kansans with disabilities placed in jobs.

The initiative, dubbed “End-Dependence Kansas,” will provide $25 million in mostly federal funds over the next five years to organizations that operate programs that help people with disabilities find employment.

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3:34 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Kansas Budget Director: Job Growth Will Eventually Restore Revenues

A $21 million shortfall in September tax collections has renewed the debate on Gov. Sam Brownback’s economic policies heading into the last month of the 2014 campaign.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:39 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Praeger Favors Democrat Anderson To Succeed Her As Insurance Commissioner

Dennis Anderson, the Democratic candidate for Kansas insurance commissioner, on Tuesday received a campaign endorsement from incumbent Sandy Praeger, a Republican.
Credit Jim McLean / KHI News Service


The trend of Kansas Republicans crossing party lines to support Democrats running against GOP conservatives has now reached the insurance commissioner’s race.

Republican incumbent Sandy Praeger, who’s not running for re-election after three terms, endorsed Democrat Dennis Anderson on Tuesday at a campaign event staged at Brewster Place, a Topeka, Kan., retirement community.

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Heartland Health Monitor
3:11 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Praeger To Cross Party Lines And Endorse Anderson For Kansas Insurance Commissioner

Credit Alex Smith / KCUR

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican, will endorse Democrat Dennis Anderson on Tuesday, according to a news release issued by Anderson’s campaign.

Anderson is seeking to succeed Praeger as the state’s insurance regulator. He’s running against Republican Ken Selzer, who emerged from a crowded field to capture the GOP nomination in the August primary.

The release issued Monday says that Anderson will “announce the newest endorsement of his campaign,” and goes on to say that both he and Praeger will be available to answer questions.

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Heartland Health Monitor
2:09 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Specialists In South Dakota Use Telehealth System To Give ER Care In Kansas

Michelle Peak, a registered nurse, and other staff at Phillips County Hospital watch their new video link with Avera eEmergency.
Credit Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


A new nurse was on duty a few weeks ago in the emergency room at the Phillips County Hospital in Phillipsburg, Kan., when paramedics arrived with a critically injured patient.

She immediately pushed the red button on some newly installed equipment. Seconds later, a seasoned ER nurse and board-certified doctor sitting at a bank of monitors 380 miles away in Sioux Falls, S.D., were using a high-definition camera and other diagnostic equipment to monitor the patient, give advice and document everything the on-site nurse was doing to save the patient’s life.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:16 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Kickapoo In Race To Stem Tide Of Diabetes

Billy Mills, in white shirt and khaki pants, walks along the new Kickapoo Diabetes Walking Trail during a dedication event. Others participating in the walk included, front from left, Miss Kickapoo Daryl Hooper, Kickapoo Chairman Steve Cadue and fitness director Lucas Holmes.
Credit Phil Cauthon



It’s early on a Saturday morning and about 100 people – most of them members of the Kickapoo tribe – are gathering for the dedication of a new walking trail on the reservation, situated on about 20,000 acres in the glacial hills of northeast Kansas near Horton.

On hand to help with the ceremony is an athlete whose name may have faded a bit from public memory, but who still qualifies as a living legend here.

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Heartland Health Monitor
5:14 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Kansas Advanced Practice Nurses Push For Their Own Primary Care Practices

The lobbyist for a group of advanced practice Kansas nurses seeking a compromise with doctors on scope of practice legislation was not expecting much heading into the first round of talks.

But the marathon session held late last week changed Mary Ellen Conlee’s outlook.

“I’m much more optimistic,” Conlee says.

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Heartland Health Monitor
1:17 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

New Regulations Could End Dispute Over Kansas Coal-Fired Power Plant

The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed greenhouse gas regulations that could prevent construction of a 895-megawatt facility next to an existing coal-fired unit at Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s generating station outside Holcomb, Kan.
Credit Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio


The long-running legal battle over the construction of a coal-fired power plant in southwest Kansas continues.

Earlier this summer, the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit challenging the latest construction permit to be issued by state health officials. The environmental group says the permit, issued by Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Robert Moser, doesn’t impose adequate limits on greenhouse gases and other pollutants. A KDHE spokesperson says otherwise.

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Heartland Health Monitor
9:49 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Kansas Still Awaiting New KanCare Watchdog

Whoever emerges as the top candidate from a crowded field of applicants for the state’s Medicaid inspector general post likely will be vetted more carefully than in the past.

Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said the Kansas Bureau of Investigation will conduct a background check of the candidate before he or she is appointed.

“It’s something that we’re going to require before extending the contract,” he said.

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