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.

 

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers will consider a Medicaid expansion bill despite the anticipated repeal of Obamacare by Congress.

Rep. Susan Concannon introduced the bill Thursday on behalf of the Kansas Hospital Association.

The Beloit Republican and vice-chair of the House health committee says the election of more moderate Republicans and Democrats has increased support for expanding KanCare – the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback released on Wednesday a wide-ranging plan for fixing the state’s budget shortfall. It would take money from the highway fund, raise some taxes and overhaul the funding system for children’s programs. It would also take longer to pay off a shortfall in the state's pension plan, KPERS.

Jim McLean, of the Kansas News Service, spoke with Kansas Public Radio's Stephen Koranda about the budget plan and how lawmakers are reacting.

kslegislature.org

The first order of business for Kansas lawmakers when they return to the Statehouse next week will be resolving the state budget shortfall.

They might have to come up with nearly $1 billion for the current fiscal year and next year combined.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman says that will likely require both spending cuts and tax increases. The Dighton Republican says an income tax surcharge is one of the possibilities.

“A temporary surcharge for two or three years, just to tide us over until revenues do start to recover,” Hineman says.

healthcare.gov

Obamacare enrollment is up over last year across the country but not in Kansas.

The deadline for selecting Obamacare coverage that kicks in at the start of the new year just passed. And so far, nearly 6.5 million Americans have selected marketplace plans – an increase of 400,000 over last year.

But enrollment is down by more than 10,000 here in Kansas, where consumers have fewer coverage options to select from. About 73,000 Kansans have enrolled in Obamacare plans compared to nearly 85,000 at this time last year.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

A task force chaired by Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to address problems in rural health care determined that expanding telemedicine, addressing workforce shortages and giving providers more flexibility were key to Kansas’ future.

The Rural Health Working Group wrapped up a year of meetings Tuesday and is now compiling a set of recommendations to present to the Legislature ahead of the session that begins Jan. 9.

Stephen Koranda

There will be a political shift in the Kansas legislature with the new leaders lawmakers selected Monday. Conservatives will hold on to the very top jobs for 2017, but more moderate Republicans also picked up key positions. There is turnover among some of the Democratic leadership posts too.

All the change reflects gains made by moderate Republicans in the August primaries, and gains by Democrats in November, especially in the House. The move to the center on the Senate side is more subtle, but nonetheless notable.

J. Schafer / KPR/File photo

Kansas voters want change for the 2017 session: They made that clear by replacing a couple dozen conservative Republican legislators with Democrats and more moderate Republicans. The newly elected lawmakers gather today to select their leadership.

The leadership selections will be an early indication of how much the balance of power has really changed in the Statehouse.

For speaker of the House, the race is between a moderate -- Republican Russ Jennings from Lakin in southwest Kansas -- and two conservatives -- Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe, and Jene Vickery of Louisburg.

healthcare.gov

Close to 25,000 Kansans have signed up for health insurance through the online marketplace, despite uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act under a new administration.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service reported Wednesday that 24,778 people in Kansas had signed up for insurance since open enrollment for 2017 started Nov. 1. The number of people seeking insurance was up less than 2 percent compared to the same period during open enrollment last year.

Meg Wingerter / KHI News Service

It isn’t far from the gleaming bank buildings and high-end hotels to the rent-to-own stores and corner shops that stock more chips than fruit.

A visitor getting off the highway in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, would pass by a Hilton Garden Inn and several high-rise buildings bearing the names of financial companies.

But a few blocks across the Seventh Street Trafficway, the storefronts become more worn down and the food options narrow to McDonald’s and the One Stop Shop, where the only vegetables are jarred tomato sauce and canned jalapenos.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File Photo

Kansas privatized its Medicaid program in 2013, and there have been questions ever since--questions about how well KanCare is working. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, a new study may provide some answers.

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