health care

Federal health officials say headlines about anticipated premium increases on the Obamacare health insurance marketplace overlook an important point: Most Americans, including two-thirds of Kansans, will still be able to find a plan with a premium of $75 a month, or less.

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 / KPR

Two of the state’s three KanCare Medicaid contracts were making a profit by the end of last year, according to a report given to lawmakers Friday in Topeka.

Some previous records had shown losses at all three of the companies that manage the state’s privatized Medicaid program. By the end of 2015, the newest report shows UnitedHealthcare had made $44 million, Amerigroup had made $31 million and Sunflower Health Plan had lost $16 million.

Some nursing students at Wichita State University are getting help paying for their education in exchange for setting up a practice in an under-served area of Kansas.

Wichita State’s School of Nursing received a $348,267 dollar federal grant to help get more primary care nurse practitioners into practice.

Alicia Huckstadt, professor and director of graduate program in the WSU School of Nursing, says the grant will pay for 16 students for the entire year beginning this fall.

Alex Proimos, flickr Creative Commons

Last fall NPR, Harvard, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation partnered to survey Americans about their perceptions of health care. Kansas was one of seven states singled out for a closer look. And the thing that stood out about Kansans was the degree of concern they expressed about the cost of health care.

Health care providers across the country have been fearing the switch to a complicated new coding and billing system. Some were predicting an apocalyptic snarl of red tape. But when Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson checked in with some Kansas providers about how things have gone the first month, they said “so far, so good.”

The new billing system is called ICD-10. It's the tenth version of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases. That's where the initials, ICD, come from.

Jasleen Kaur, flickr Creative Commons

Some Kansas doctors will soon be participating in a massive new effort by the Obama administration to improve the nation’s healthcare system. Jim McLean of the KHI News Service has the details.

In today’s healthcare system doctors are rewarded for seeing as many patients as they can.

The $700 million “transforming clinical practice initiative” is aimed at reversing that, so quality of care is rewarded over volume.

Bryan Thompson / Heartland Health Monitor

People who live in small towns across Kansas are struggling to save institutions that in their minds define their communities.

daveynin, flickr Creative Commons

The rate of uninsured Kansas now stands at 11.3 percent, compared with 12.5 percent in 2013, according to a Gallup survey published Monday.

Nationwide, the uninsured rate plunged from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 11.7 percent through the first half of this year. Seven of the 10 states with the biggest reductions in uninsured rates implemented Medicaid expansion and established a marketplace while two did one or the other, according to Gallup.

Alex Smith, Heartland Health Monitor


Early on a Monday morning, percussionist and music teacher Amy Hearting of Kansas City reads a newspaper outside a coffee shop before going off to teach an elementary school workshop.

She loves her work but says she’s not in it for the benefits and certainly not for the big salary.

“I feel like I’m doing what I want to be doing in life,” Hearting says. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with health insurance, and it doesn’t really come with an annual income where that is an easy reality for me.”