Jim McLean

REPORTER AND EDITOR, KANSAS NEWS SERVICE

Jim McLean is the managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration between KMUW and other public media stations across Kansas. 

Jim was previously news director and Statehouse bureau chief for Kansas Public Radio and a managing editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He has received awards for journalistic excellence from the Kansas Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and Kansas Association of Broadcasters.

 

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Mercy Hospital Independence

The hospital that has served the residents of Independence, Kansas, for nearly a century is closing its doors. Officials say several factors are to blame for the hospital’s financial struggles. But they say one stands out: Gov. Sam Brownback’s rejection of Medicaid expansion.

Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has more on how the closure of the southeast Kansas hospital could change the expansion debate in the state.

kac.org

Kansas child care advocates say the state’s new welfare law could jeopardize a $42 million federal grant. State officials disagree.

The welfare law at issue was passed by conservative Republicans to tighten eligibility requirements and move low-income Kansans off welfare and into jobs.

Some of the changes in the law could make it harder for some welfare recipients to maintain their eligibility without interruption, says Shannon Cotsoradis, CEO of the nonprofit advocacy group Kansas Action for Children.

Bigstock Images

Some advocates for seniors and Kansans with disabilities are calling for changes in the state’s privatized Medicaid program. As Jim McLean of the Kansas Health Institute reports, they want a more independent process for resolving disputes over services.

More from Dave Ranney at the Heartland Health Monitor.

Premiums for Kansas health insurance plans offered in the federal marketplace won’t increase as much as originally proposed, state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said Tuesday.

In May, Kansas insurance companies requested rate increases of up to 39 percent for individual market policies to be sold through the healthcare.gov marketplace during the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2016.

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court could affect whether some elderly and disabled Kansans continue to receive the services they need to remain in their homes and stay out of nursing facilities.

This is another case that pitted the Obama administration against states led by conservative Republicans.

Dave Ranney file photo / KHI News

The president of the Kansas Hospital Association is taking issue with recent comments made by Gov. Sam Brownback about Medicaid expansion.

The governor said rather than lobbying for expansion, hospitals should address their financial problems by innovating and getting more efficient. He said reductions in Medicare payments triggered by the Affordable Care Act are the biggest problem for Kansas hospitals.

But hospital association president Tom Bell says the governor is wrong about that.

Michael Cannon / flickr Creative Commons

A group pushing for elimination of the sales tax on groceries in Kansas is touting a new study.

The Wichita State University study shows that even before it was raised last month from 6.15 percent to 6.5 percent, the statewide sales tax was costing rural grocers an average of about $18,000 a year in lost sales.

The study was paid for by KC Healthy Kids, a nonprofit organization pushing to make Kansas the 37th state to eliminate its sales tax on groceries.

KHI.org/Annie E. Casey Foundation

An annual survey that charts the well-being of children in the state shows that Kansas is making progress in some areas but is falling behind in others. Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean has more on the Kids Count rankings.

Kansas retained its overall ranking of 15th in this year’s Kids Count rankings compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Dave Ranney, Heartland Health Monitor

Douglas County District Court Judge Peggy Carr Kittel is raising questions about possible changes to the state’s foster care program. As Heartland Health Monitor’s Jim McLean reports, the judge is concerned the state may soon require foster-care couples to be married.

Judge Kittel outlined her concerns in a letter to officials at the Kansas Department of Children and Families. She says requiring all couples providing foster to marry would reduce the number of foster homes at a time when there are near record numbers of children in the system.

Jim McLean

Advocates for Kansans with disabilities say the state's privatized Medicaid system is too often failing the people it's supposed to serve. They aired their complaints yesterday during a hearing in Topeka, hosted by the National Council on Disability.

They say the for-profit companies running the KanCare program seem more interested in saving money than providing needed services.

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