Jim McLean

Contributing Reporter

Jim McLean, Executive Editor of KHI News Service, oversees the KHI News Service. From 2005 until 2013, McLean coordinated all communications activities at KHI as Vice President for Public Affairs. The position he now occupies was created as part of a strategic initiative to solidify the editorial and operational independence of the KHI News Service. Prior to coming to KHI, McLean had a distinguished career as a journalist, serving as the news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. During his more than 20 years in Kansas journalism, McLean won numerous awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In 1997, McLean and two Capital-Journal colleagues received the Burton W. Marvin News Enterprise Award from the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism for a series of stories on the state’s business climate. McLean holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washburn University.

 

http://www.kancare.ks.gov

Kansas health care providers are gearing up to fight the Medicaid cuts that Gov. Sam Brownback has ordered to balance the state budget.

KanCare covers more than 400,000 Kansans--mainly low-income families, but also people with disabilities and elderly Kansans in nursing homes who have used up their life savings.

The Kansas Hospital Association says it will urge federal officials to reject the proposed cuts and might also go to court to stop them.

The 2016 election could be a tough one for some Kansas lawmakers hoping to return to the Statehouse.

Polls, editorials and reader comments on news websites indicate that voters are paying attention to what’s happening in Topeka, and many don’t like what they’re seeing.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Budget problems are forcing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to make cuts in the state Medicaid program that he once said he wouldn’t make.

In 2012, Brownback was pushing lawmakers to approve his plan to privatize Medicaid. In his State of the State speech that year he said creating KanCare would save money--and do it in a more responsible way than other states.

“Now many states are either kicking people off of Medicaid or paying doctors and other providers less," he said. "Neither of these choices providers better outcomes.”

Susie Fagan / KHI News

A new coalition is forming to push Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators to expand KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program. Members of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas jammed a Statehouse meeting room on Monday to kick off their campaign.

Brownback and Republican leaders have blocked any serious consideration of KanCare expansion for the past four legislative sessions because they remain strongly opposed to the federal health reform law they call Obamacare.

Jason & Megan Mills / Flickr Creative Commons

One of the bills that Kansas lawmakers passed over the final weekend of the session bans minors from using commercial tanning beds. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, the bill was a priority for the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

Dr. Roy Jensen is director of the KU Cancer Center. His blunt testimony for the tanning-ban bill helped overcome opposition from lawmakers reluctant to interfere with private businesses.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Finding a way to balance the state budget is job one for Kansas lawmakers in the final weeks of the legislative session. But dozens of other bills remain in play, including one aimed at lowering KanCare costs by limiting patient access to expensive drugs.

Jim McLean / KHI News

The budget is the immediate problem facing Kansas lawmakers today as they start their wrap-up session--specifically, how to erase $290 million in red ink and balance the budget.

One of the budget-balancing proposals they’re expected to consider would close a controversial tax exemption for businesses. But as Jim McLean reports, supporters of the measure are having trouble lining up the votes they need.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A handful of university economists and state officials are meeting behind closed doors in Topeka today. Their objective is to come up with an accurate estimate of how much tax revenue Kansas will collect over the next year.

It’s a process the state has used since the late 70s for budgeting purposes--but it’s suddenly become controversial.

The last time the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group met, the news wasn’t good.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

A children’s advocacy group is charging that welfare policies championed by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback are pushing more families into poverty. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has the latest in the ongoing dispute.

The nonprofit advocacy organization Kansas Action for Children says the Brownback administration’s welfare policies are unraveling the state’s social services safety net.

Joseph Novak / Flickr / Creative Commons

A new wind energy project announced today by Gov. Sam Brownback is one of 10 now under construction in Kansas.

The Cimarron Bend project in Clark County will add another 200 wind turbines to the rural landscape in southwest Kansas. But the power produced there will be used by the tech giant Google and the Board of Public Utilities in Kansas City, Kansas.

BPU general manager Don Gray says wind power has gotten much cheaper in recent years.

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