Kansas News Service

Heartland Health Monitor is a reporting collaboration focused on health issues and their impact in Kansas and Missouri. The partners —— KMUW, KCUR, KCPT Public Television, KHI News Service and Kansas Public Radio —— strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

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.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Lawmakers in Washington must approve spending legislation or face a government shutdown, and discussion of funding a border wall is complicating the situation. Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran said during a stop in Topeka this weekend that he hopes they reach a solution in time.

President Trump has called for budget bills to include funding for a wall on the Mexican border. That has drawn opposition from some members of Congress. If both sides dig in, that could cause a government shutdown.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran met with state education officials this weekend to talk about federal issues. Much of the discussion focused on spending cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

A panel of Kansas officials has boosted the forecast for the state’s tax collections. They raised the revenue projection by almost $160 million.

That puts a dent in the Kansas budget deficit. After accounting for the new money, the state still faces a shortfall of around $900 million over the coming two fiscal years.

“There certainly remain big challenges for legislators and us between now and when the session ends,” said Shawn Sullivan, Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director.

However, Sullivan added that "up is better than down."

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A group of state officials and university economists will meet on Thursday to update the forecast for how much the state will collect in taxes.

The numbers provided by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group give Kansas lawmakers a better idea of the state’s finances as they work to write a new budget plan for the coming fiscal year.

The group might change the economic projections it made earlier. If that happens, the budget deficit facing lawmakers will either grow or shrink.

Kansas News Service/File photo

There’s apparently another early entry into a 2018 Kansas congressional race.

Democrat Jay Sidie lost his 2016 campaign against incumbent 3rd District congressman Kevin Yoder by about 10 points -- but that was much closer than many expected.

Now Sidie has sent out an email fundraising appeal, asking supporters to kick in $5 to a potential rematch with Yoder.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Pretty Prairie, Kansas, population 680, had a moment in the spotlight during the confirmation hearings for new Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran mentioned Pretty Prairie as an example of a community that’s struggling because of EPA regulations that Pruitt could ease.

But residents of the tiny south-central Kansas town are also concerned about how federal budget cuts might affect their ability to pay for a new water treatment system.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The owner of St. Francis Health left no doubt it won’t continue to run the Topeka hospital for more than a few months.

The lingering question is whether anyone else will step in to keep it from closing.

Mike Slubowski, president and CEO of SCL Health, said in a news release Tuesday that he hopes to have a clear answer about the hospital’s future by the first week of May. SCL, formerly known as the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, is based in Denver.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

Several hundred people turned out Monday night to protest the possible closure of St. Francis Health in Topeka.

AP Photo

A federal judge has ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to produce two documents that he flashed during a visit with then President-elect Donald Trump in November. The order comes in a case challenging a state law requiring documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration.

Kobach had argued the documents were not relevant to the case, but U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara disagreed and on Monday directed him to hand them over to the plaintiffs.

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