Jim McLean

Reporter and Editor, Kansas News Service

Jim McLean is an editor and reporter for KCUR 89.3. He is the managing director of KCUR's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KCUR and other public media stations across Kansas. 

Jim was previously news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

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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.

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.

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 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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