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.

 

Kansas News Service/File photo

With a Monday deadline approaching, it isn’t clear whether all of the health insurance companies now participating in the Affordable Care Act marketplace in Kansas will continue in 2018.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the state’s largest health insurer, has made a preliminary decision to continue and has filed initial paperwork with the Kansas Insurance Department, said Mary Beth Chambers, a company spokeswoman.

Kansas News Service/File photo

The drama unfolding in the Kansas Statehouse pales in comparison to the intrigue surrounding recent events in the nation’s capital.

But what’s happening — and not happening — in Topeka will determine the extent to which a group of new legislators elected last fall can fulfill the promises they made to voters to stabilize the state budget and adequately fund public schools.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

After several false starts, the Kansas Senate on Wednesday finally debated a tax bill.

But after a brief debate, Democrats and conservative Republicans voted for different reasons to reject the bill.

Two Democrats joined 16 moderate Republicans in voting for the bill, which failed 18-22.

The seven Democrats who voted against the measure said they feared it would not generate sufficient revenue to both balance the state budget and increase funding for public schools by enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Dennis Wright isn’t alone.

He’s one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Kansas residents and public officials waiting for the state to solve its money problems so that dozens of highway projects that have been indefinitely delayed can get going again.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The University of Kansas Health System and a Tennessee-based for-profit hospital chain have agreed to rescue a troubled Topeka hospital despite possible changes in federal health policy that could hurt Kansas providers.

Officials from the KU Health System and Ardent Health Services, the nation’s second-largest privately owned for-profit hospital chain, announced Thursday that they had signed a letter of intent to acquire St. Francis Health.

After Jake LaTurner was appointed State Treasurer, Southeast Kansas Republicans appear to have replaced one conservative with another in the Kansas Senate.

The lawmaker appointed this week to serve the remainder of LaTurner’s term, former Cherokee County Commissioner Richard Hilderbrand, says he doesn’t like political labels. But his views on key budget and tax issues align him with conservatives in the Legislature.

Republican leaders in the Kansas House say it is unlikely they will schedule another vote on Medicaid expansion in the final weeks of the legislative session.

But Democrats say they will attempt to force one.

House Majority Leader Don Hineman, a Dighton Republican, said lawmakers facing tough votes on the budget, taxes and school finance don’t want to further complicate the final weeks of the session by adding Medicaid expansion to the mix.

Meg Wingerter / Kansas News Service/File photo

Lawmakers signaled Thursday that they could exempt Kansas psychiatric hospitals from a law requiring them to allow concealed handguns.

Gov. Sam Brownback has requested an additional $24 million in spending over the next two budget years on upgrades needed to provide security at state mental health hospitals and facilities for people with developmental disabilities.

Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed a bill aimed at addressing complaints from health care providers about KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program.

Red tape, denied claims and late payments are among the major gripes.

The new law aims to fix those problems by requiring the private companies that manage KanCare to standardize some of their business practices, as well as establishing an external appeals process to resolve disputes.

Republican Sen. Barbara Bollier helped write the legislation.

File Photo/Kansas News Service

A third of the way to an end-of-year deadline, Kansas officials still do not have federal approval to extend KanCare.

In January, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services denied the state’s request for a one-year extension of the waiver that allowed it to privatize its Medicaid program. The denial letter said neither the Kansas Department of Health and Environment nor the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services was doing enough to hold the three private companies that run the program responsible for providing services accountable to Medicaid rules.

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