Bryan Thompson

Contributing Reporter

Bryan Thompson joined the Kansas Health Institute in 2015 after more than 35 years in radio news. For the last 15 years he has worked with Kansas Public Radio, where he produced the award-winning series, “Kansas Health: A Prescription for Change,” and collaborated with the KHI News Service. Prior to his work at KPR, Bryan served as news director for commercial radio stations in El Dorado, Liberal and Salina. Bryan has partnered with NPR and Kaiser Health News through their “Health Care in the States” initiative. He was selected by the National Institutes of Health for its Medicine in the Media training program and by the Association of Health Care Journalists for its yearlong Midwest Health Journalism Fellowship. Bryan is a graduate of Wichita State University.

KS Water Office Presentation

A lot has changed in the three decades since the idea of building an aqueduct from the Missouri River to western Kansas was first studied and shelved. For one thing, the water shortages that were mere projections then are now imminent.

That reality, as Bryan Thompson reports, has prompted state officials to dust off the study and re-examine the aqueduct idea.

New health rankings show Kansas stuck at 27--the same slot that it occupied last year. But KPR’s Bryan Thompson reports there was a time--not that long ago--when the state ranked much higher than the middle of the pack.

The United Health Foundation rankings are a snapshot of 30 health measures ranging from clinical care to behavior and environment to state policy.

“Kansas has had a steady decline, from about ten or eleven in that initial 1990 rank to rank 27th in this most recent year’s report,” says Dr. Rhonda Randall, the foundations chief health advisor.

healthcare.gov

Premiums in the federal health insurance Marketplace are slightly higher, on average, than last year-but not in Kansas. More from Bryan Thompson.

A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services says the cost of the so-called “benchmark” silver plan is up an average of two percent nationwide. But In Kansas, the benchmark plan is actually five per cent lower this year.

Kansas Insurance Department spokesman Bob Hanson says that’s because Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas has added a new HMO marketplace plan with premiums lower than last year’s benchmark silver.

A battle over air pollution from power plants is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Bryan Thompson has more...

Kansas and 20 other states contend the EPA should have considered the costs of a 2011 rule. That rule forces coal-fired power plants to install new equipment to remove mercury and other toxins from their exhaust.

An appeals court held that they didn’t have to consider the cost, but the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the states’ challenge. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says it’s a very narrow challenge, and one the agency will win.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans still lack health insurance. For them, safety net clinics are a lifeline. These clinics provide primary care for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Today there are federally-funded clinics in 21 Kansas counties, but as Bryan Thompson explains, there soon could be more.

http://breakfastintheclassroom.org

More Kansas students could soon be getting free breakfast at school. Bryan Thompson reports...

A program called Breakfast In the Classroom has added Kansas and six other states to the list of those eligible for the grant-funded program.

It’s too early to say how many kids might be affected. The program chooses individual school districts, based on how many kids qualify for free or reduced-price meals, how many participate in the federal school breakfast program, and the level of local support.

healthcare.gov

The federal health insurance marketplace opened for its second year of business Saturday. Bryan Thompson has the highlights.

Predictions of double-digit rate increases this year haven’t come true. A review by the non-profit Kansas Health Institute finds that, on average, premiums for plans sold in Kansas are up just one-tenth of one percent. But the average isn’t what matters to consumers.

Every plan is different. Some do have double-digit increases, but some have double-digit price drops.

The Topeka-based Kansas Health Institute has received a half-million dollar grant for its efforts to help public health departments find ways to work together.

photo by By Chris Potter (Flickr: 3D Judges Gavel) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The City of Topeka is launching an effort to provide treatment, instead of jail, for people whose misdemeanor crimes are linked to mental illness.

The city will use a $91,000 grant from the Kansas Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to fund an Alternative Sentencing Court next year. 

Flickr Creative Commons/LensDog64

The VA has begun mailing cards to veterans who may need medical care outside the VA health care system. Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson explains.

The cards are called Veterans Choice Cards. They’re intended for veterans who live more than 40 miles from the nearest VA health care facility—or who have faced excessive wait times for appointments.

With the card, veterans can get care from any medical provider who accepts Medicare, any federally-qualified health center, the Indian Health Service, or the Defense Department.

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