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health insurance

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — A pressure campaign led by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly aims to force Republican Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle to drop her blockade of a vote to expand Medicaid.

A majority of state senators back the plan, virtually assuring its passage if Wagle allowed a vote.

But Wagle, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, insists that the Legislature first put an anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution up for a statewide vote.

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Americans are divided on lots of issues. But a new national survey finds that people across the political spectrum agree on at least one thing: Our health care system needs fixing.

The “Hidden Common Ground” survey from Public Agenda, USA Today and Ipsos found that 92 percent of Americans say changes are needed.

Segment 1: What 2020 could bring for health care

Health care is one of the hottest issues across the country, and Missouri and Kansas are no exception. We previewed what this year might bring for a variety of health-related issues and storylines.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Chris Costantini lay in a cold sweat, his shoulder dislocated after slipping on a porch in Kansas City, Kansas.

He’d been out alone, knocking on doors and rustling up voters for the upcoming midterms in October 2018. Now he waited for an ambulance, full of anxiety about how the injury could hinder his next performance at the Kansas City Ballet.

Segment 1: Missouri does not enforce a 2008 federal law on mental health parity.

When President George W. Bush signed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act in 2008, it established that health insurers must cover mental health the same as other medical conditions. Missouri remains one of only two states to not enforce that law with a state statute.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley is throwing his support behind legislation to help set up programs that could make it easier to pay for high-cost health care claims — including ones for people with pre-existing conditions.

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Immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos account for more than a third of residents without health insurance in the Kansas City area’s three largest counties.

That’s one of the findings in a study about the fastest growing segment of the local workforce, commissioned by the Reach Healthcare Foundation.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas The 2020 federal marketplace for individual health insurance includes more options than ever for Kansas, and premiums for some of those plans are less expensive than 2019. But for the second year in a row, all of the plans will leave consumers footing the full bill for most out-of-network care.

The silver lining: Two new insurance companies have jumped into Kansas this year, offering health plans in some of the state’s most populous counties. A third insurer that’s already active in Kansas City and its suburbs is expanding to 12 more southeast and central Kansas counties.

Seg. 1: Medical Debt Collection | Seg. 2: Health Insurance Finance

Oct 21, 2019

Segment 1: Even though debtors prisons were outlawed in 1983, the threat of jail is being used to pursue unpaid medical bills.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

A private insurer’s 2018 premiums in Kansas ran too high — at least compared to the medical bills it had to pay for customers that year.

That means thousands of Kansans get money back this fall because they got overcharged last year.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Dozens of primarily elderly or disabled Kansans lost their Medicaid coverage because of errors made by Aetna. Staff at the state health department discovered the problem, restored their insurance and stopped further cancellations.

Months later, state workers are still double-checking the work of Aetna Better Health — one of the three companies that helps run the state’s privatized Medicaid system — while Aetna puts together a permanent fix.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA — Aetna is bringing in new leadership to run its Medicaid operations in Kansas after chronic complaints from hospitals and others put it at risk of losing its contract.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Friday that Aetna Better Health of Kansas CEO Keith Wisdom is no longer in that role. But the insurer declined to answer questions about whether it had replaced Wisdom.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA ― Aetna remains in hot water with the state of Kansas, which recently threatened to cancel the company’s Medicaid contract.

Chris Neal / For the Kansas News Service

TOPEKA ― State officials have told one of the key players in Kansas’ privatized Medicaid system that it stands in danger of getting fired for not living up to its contract.

Aetna Better Health has until Wednesday to tell state officials how it is addressing chronic complaints about delayed payments to hospitals and other problems.

A formal letter from the state to Aetna says failure to fix the problems so far means the company’s contract “is in jeopardy of being terminated for cause.”

Segment 1: Could a retail model make health care in America more affordable?

As the country grapples with the ever-increasing cost of health care, we consider a model that minimizes the government's role and cuts out many middlemen. Two scholars describe a retail system that would subsidize care for the poor, allow consumers to make their own purchasing decisions, and help people focus on the care they want and value.

Segment 1: Why the Federal Emergency Managment Agency recommends flood coverage for everyone.

Flooding occurs in 90% of natural disasters in the United States, according to FEMA, and a quarter of all flood claims come from low-risk areas. We cover common questions about what is and isn't covered by flood and homeowners insurance, and discuss what the future of flood insurance might look like.

Jason Domingues

Patients who are fed up with the bureaucracy of the health insurance industry are ditching the copays and high deductibles for a different way to get primary care.

One such patient is self-employed attorney Dan Hobart, who struggled to find insurance because of his pre-existing conditions. Even after Affordable Care Act went into effect, doctor visits were still too costly for him to get the care he needed.

Segment 1: A developing program in Missouri would help foster youth find gainful employment.

Youth in the foster care program who are not placed with a permanent family face disproportionate levels of unemployment and homelessness. FosterAdopt Connect's new program helps pair young adults with hiring businesses, and ensures employers are prepared for the employees' unique needs associated with growing up in the foster care system.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

The Kansas Legislature is in the meat of its 2019 session. Not quite halfway through, but well into the “getting down to business” part.

As such, there are consequential conversations happening throughout the Statehouse. Some occur in hearing rooms. But far more take place out of public view — in offices, hallways and the many convenient alcoves tucked into the building’s less-trafficked spaces.

Republicans are pushing hard and fast for tax relief that could threaten Gov. Laura Kelly's budget priorities, including Medicaid expansion. The governor has unveiled her plan to extend Medicaid coverage to another 150,000 low-income Kansans. The plan might seem familiar. The official sponsor of the bill, Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, explains it contains compromises that nearly got veto-proof support in 2017. 


Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

The word audacious has a double meaning.

Depending on whom you talk to, either definition might apply to the way the Kansas Farm Bureau is proposing to rescue farmers and ranchers priced out of the health insurance marketplace set up under the federal Affordable Care Act.

It’s either a bold and daring move. Or, it’s presumptuous, bordering on brazen.

The powerful ag lobbying organization is petitioning lawmakers for what amounts to carte blanche authority to develop and market health coverage free of state and federal oversight.

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One patient was billed more than $100,000 after being transferred out of state for treatment of encephalitis.

Another got a bill for $25,000 after being kicked by a horse, which caused a traumatic eye injury requiring hospital treatment.

A third was socked with a bill for more than $24,000 after a trip to a nearby hospital following a motor vehicle accident.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Leader talk

The newly elected and re-elected folks in the Kansas House got together on Monday to pick their leaders. Republicans, who hold an overwhelming majority, kept Ron Ryckman in the speaker’s chair. But they swapped out moderate Don Hineman for conservative Dan Hawkins.

Democrats replaced the sometimes-combative Jim Ward, who briefly flirted with a run for governor, for the more conciliatory Tom Sawyer.

patientcaretechniciansalary.net / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: What health care coverage is right for you, and what to do if you need help enrolling.

More coverage options have been added to the health insurance marketplace — some as part of the Affordable Care Act and some not — and premium costs this year are expected to remain the same, or even decline in some states. Today, we answered open enrollment and coverage questions to help listeners make the best choice for themselves and their families.

www.HealthCare.gov

Kansans seeking health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federally run exchange will have the choice of three insurers in 2019.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer said in a statement that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Medica Insurance Co. and Ambetter from Sunflower Health Plan will offer 23 separate plans for individuals through HealthCare.gov, the federal government exchange.

Grey keyboard with "Healthcare" printed on green return key.
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Segment 1: Kansas refusal to expand Medicaid has delayed access to medical care and left many poor residents uninsured.

Alex Smith / KCUR

Like many people who can’t afford medical care, Larissa Shively-Vitt of Shawnee, Kansas, has been spending a lot of time online lately, trying to tell her story and raise money through crowdfunding.

Medical expenses are the category most often used on GoFundMe, which is the largest crowdfunding platform. And in recent years, campaigns have snowballed for one particular kind of medical care: gender confirmation surgery.

Missouri Department of Social Services Children's Division

Segment 1: Controversy in Missouri and Kansas foster care. 

The foster care systems in Missouri and Kansas have been making headlines lately. In Missouri, the prescribing and administering of psychotropic drugs is at the center of litigation that just became a class action case. In Kansas, the Adoption Protection Act allows smaller agencies to deny potential parents adoption or fostering based on the agency's religious beliefs. We got an update on what's happening on both sides of the state line. 

Richard Green / special to Kansas News Service

Amy Houston got the bad news — a diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma — in 2009.

She started working 10-hour days in her corporate job to get Fridays off for chemotherapy. But that schedule no longer worked when the time came for daily radiation treatments. 

“I lost my job and therefore lost my medical insurance,” Houston said.

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A proposed telemedicine bill has Kansas medical providers pushing for a new chance to make their services eligible for reimbursement.

Under the House bill, introduced last month, licensed mental health care professionals and physicians can tend to faraway patients over phone or video calls. Insurers would have to cover their services as if they had seen patients in person.

Groups representing chiropractors, occupational therapists, nurses and other health professionals made their case for inclusion before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

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