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.

 

Jim McLean

Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger says Congress should fix problems with the Affordable Care Act, problems that are driving some insurance companies from the ACA marketplace.

“There're some things that could be done if we could get Congress to be willing to come to the table to try to solve problems," Praeger says. "That hasn’t really been the case now for a few years. But they could fix it.”

Photo by U.S. Census Bureau

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop.

But they’re declining faster in states that have expanded Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities.

New data out Tuesday from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Kansas’ uninsured rate dropped to 9.1 percent in 2015, down from 10.2 percent the year before and 12.3 percent in 2013.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

The Kansas general election ballot is now set.

Officials in the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office late last week cleared the last hurdle to certifying the roster of candidates for the Nov. 8 election by granting presidential candidate Jill Stein’s request to change the person listed on the ballot as her vice presidential running mate.

Mercy Hospital Independence

Knocking on doors in southeast Kansas, as elsewhere in the state, candidates get an earful about public school funding and the state’s budget mess, first and foremost. So it’s hard to know how much the local hospital’s closure factored into the defeat of two of the area’s longtime Republican legislators in the primaries. But it is clear health care is at the top of the mind for the candidates left standing.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

In the face of growing criticism from health care providers, Gov. Sam Brownback says he wants to restore Medicaid cuts made in July to help balance the state budget. But the governor says he wants to raise a tax imposed on hospitals to do it.

Brownback says when lawmakers return to Topeka in January he will ask them to raise the hospital tax to generate the money needed to restore $56 million in cuts to KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Update 08/17/16:

Gov. Brownback has released the following statement about the KanCare cuts:

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is sticking to his talking points. In a rare informal conversation with Statehouse reporters late last week, Brownback said the results of the recent primary election aren’t causing him to re-think his positions on tax cuts, school finance and Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Sam Brownback says the death of a Kansas lawmaker’s son at the Schlitterbahn water park should prompt a review of the state’s amusement park inspection laws.

“I think they ought to be reviewed, and I would assume and hope that the Legislature would spend significant time looking at the issue," Brownback says. "And we will as an administration after you get past the sheer tragedy of it.”

Parks are now required to inspect their rides at least once a year. Records of those inspections are then subject to random state audits.

The effort to expand Medicaid in Kansas has been stuck in the political mud for the better part of three years.

Not anymore.

The results of last week’s primary election may have given expansion advocates the traction they need to overcome opposition from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative conservatives who thus far have blocked debate on the issue.

A series of victories by moderate Republicans over conservative incumbents and challengers for open seats has fundamentally changed the legislative landscape.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio, File Photo

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback wants Tim Keck to continue running the agency that oversees the state’s aging and disability services. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, Keck has had his hands full since taking the job on an interim basis in January.

Problems at the state’s two mental health hospitals have demanded Keck’s attention since the moment he took the reins at the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

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