Third-graders to participate in Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day

Third-grade students in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are gearing up to participate in the 24th annual Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day.

The Governor’s Council on Fitness and Safe Kids Kansas are sponsoring this statewide event to reinforce the fun and health benefits of noncompetitive physical activities and injury prevention. Nearly 19,000 students will participate this year at more than 30 sites across the state, with the majority of events being held on May 1 and May 2.
On Thursday, May 1, Washington High School will be the host of 1,000 third-graders and high school students at the stadium at 7340 Leavenworth Road in Kansas City, Kan.

On Friday, May 2, Harmon High School will be the host of more than 1,000 third-grade students and high school students at 25th and Lawrence Avenue at Harmon Stadium. Events on both dates will take place from 10 a.m. to noon.

Statewide, all children participating in Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day will receive health and safety enrichment packets, including jump ropes, to encourage physical activity.  Activities at these sites will provide opportunities to participate in fun and educational activities to promote physical activity and promote safety.

Kansas Kids Fitness and Safety Day is an opportunity to impress upon youth the importance of being safe and physically active. A 2008 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one-third of children and adolescents were either overweight or obese and physical inactivity was a major contributor to this problem. According to the CDC report, 70 percent of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease in a population based sample of 5 to 17 year olds.
Kansas City, Kansas Kids Fitness Day is sponsored by UMB bank.  This is the second year for this partnership and the benefits are amazing.  Kansas City, Kan., fire stations will be on hand to help with the fire safety station.


KCKCC will send .395 offense against No. 8 Highland Saturday

by Alan Hoskins

Boasting the best hitting team in Kansas City Kansas Community College history, Kacy Tillery’s Lady Blue Devils will make their strongest bid for a return to the national tournament in 10 years this weekend.
With four players hitting better than .400 and seven of nine starters hitting at least .300, the Blue Devils (33-13) will take a team batting average of .395 into the four-team Region VI tournament at Topeka’s Hummer Park Saturday.
The No. 4 seed, the Blue Devils will open at noon against No. 1 seeded Highland, the nation’s No. 8 ranked Division II team with a 36-8 record. The other noon semifinal will match No. 2 Independence (40-14) and No. 3 Cloud (29-12) . The two winners and the two losers will then collide at 4 p.m. with tourney play to be completed starting at 10 a.m. Sunday
Saturday’s meeting with Highland will be the third for KCKCC, which dropped 9-2 and 3-0 decisions at Highland.
“If our pitching and hitting are on, we can play with anybody,” said Tillery, who last took KCKCC to the NJCAA national tournament n 2004..
Leslie Ford, who is third in the nation in number of innings pitched with 272, will carry the pitching load for KCKCC. As the workhorse of the staff, Ford is 21-6 with a 1.76 earned run average, seven shutouts and 21 complete games. Ford has also given up 13 home runs, which could be a problem. Highland is sixth in the nation in home runs this year with 40 and has a team batting average of .373. For is expected to face Paige Crawford (12-2 with 1.68 ERA) in the opener.
The top of the KCKCC lineup may be the best in the nation. Third baseman Lacey Santiago his hitting .494 in the leadoff position and leads the team in stolen bases with 14; centerfielder Justice Scales is hitting .497 and second in RBI with 41; and outfielder Mierra Morrisette leads in hitting (.500) and RBI (49) from the No. 3 spot.
Second baseman Amanda Holyrod leads the team in home runs with four, is second in RBI with 45 and hitting .397 from the cleanup spot while shortstop Hanna Barnhart is hitting .421 with 25 RBI at No. 5. Catcher Megan Dike, a .365 hitter with 11 stolen bases; Ford (.287), outfielder Ashley Henington (.307) and first baseman Laura Vanderheiden (.282) round out starting lineup. Santiago, Morrisette, Holroyd, Barnhart and Dike are all sophomores.


Kansas officials say Medicaid enrollment growth expected to continue

‘Woodwork effect’  projected to add another 13,400 people by July 2015
by Mike Shields, KHI News Service

Topeka — State officials said they expect more than 13,000 Kansans currently eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid will sign up for it by July 2015 due to greater awareness of the program from the Affordable Care Act and KanCare.
Kari Bruffett, director of the Division of Health Care Finance at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said Medicaid enrollment so far this year already has outpaced “normal growth” patterns and that trend was expected to continue at least over the next year or more thanks to the so-called “woodwork effect.”
KanCare, the name given Medicaid in Kansas after the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback rebranded it in 2012, is being promoted on billboards and ads by the three managed care companies competing to attract enrollees to their health plans. And the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, has heightened awareness of the various options available to those needing health coverage, officials said.
How much credit or blame for the growth should be assigned to either initiative hasn’t been parsed yet, legislative and agency analysts said. But they pledged they would try to find out and report back to legislators on that later.
Medicaid, which covers more than 400,000 Kansans, is the federal-state program that provides health care for the poor and disabled.
Packed agenda
Bruffett’s comments came as part of a day-long meeting of the Robert G. Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight.
The panel had a packed agenda and heard from a stream of state officials, insurance executives, Medicaid providers and beneficiaries.
The providers mostly registered complaints of the sorts legislators have heard in previous meetings about frustrations with KanCare’s administrative complexities and persisting difficulties getting paid in timely and complete manner by the state’s KanCare contractors: Amerigroup, UnitedHealthcare and Sunflower State Health Plan, a subsidiary of Centene.
A couple of providers also told the committee members they were pleased with the KanCare changes, but more said they were having problems.
‘No significant improvement’
Bob Finuf, vice president of payor relations at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the hospital working group that has been trying to resolve KanCare payment problems in regular meetings with officials from the state and the KanCare companies, said from Children’s Mercy’s perspective KanCare has improved since its troubled launch in January 2013, “but not significantly.”
Finuf said the hospital has $14 million in unpaid and overdue KanCare payments with two-thirds owed by a single KanCare company: Sunflower State Health Plan.
“From our perception,” he said, “there’s an unwillingness (on the part of the company) to fix reasonable problems.
“We simply did not encounter the number or magnitude of operational and claim payment delays or denials that we have encountered since the implementation of KanCare,” Finuf told the panel. “Kansas Medicaid is our lowest and slowest payer source and the biggest demand on resources in our organization.”
Officials from Newman Regional Health, a small county-owned hospital in Emporia, described the same type of problems and also named Sunflower as particularly difficult to deal with.
“Newman Regional Health continually maintained accounts receivable, productivity and claims processing financial indicators in the top 75 percent of hospitals across the country,” said Karen Hastert, the hospital’s patients accounts supervisor. “Prior to the KanCare implementation, our processes were efficient and effective. It is disappointing to have little or no control over an issue that is so significantly impacting productivity and cash collections.”
‘Not an entitlement’
Top executives of each of the KanCare companies generally struck a conciliatory tone and told committee members that they were working to improve their payment processes and talking with providers about ways to smooth things.
But at one point, Mike McKinney, chief executive of Sunflower, bluntly told the committee that although Medicaid is an entitlement for enrollees, “it is not an entitlement for providers.”
He said managed care is different than fee-for-service care. In so many words, he suggested that providers should just get used to the new way of doing business.
McKinney said managed care works because managed care companies give greater “scrutiny” to bills submitted by providers, disallowing “waste.” He said that hospitals typically note accounts receivables on their ledgers at sums three, four and five times more than they expect in actual payment from insurance companies.
“They show what they billed,” he said. “Not what they’re owed.”
But Committee Chair David Crum, an Augusta Republican who has been among KanCare’s strongest supporters in the Legislature, told McKinney he wanted to see the problems with provider payments settled.
“I’m trying to be patient,” Crum told him. “But it is becoming more difficult. … I’d like to see some positive development.”
‘We’ll do better’
McKinney and the other executives confirmed after questioning by Rep. Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, that their companies had lost money the first year of KanCare. But they, and state officials, also said the losses weren’t entirely unexpected because managed care companies sometimes lose money in the first year of a contract.
Laura Hopkins, chief executive of Amerigroup Kansas, said the company expected to become profitable this year. According to filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the company lost about $32 million.
The Sunflower filings showed about $70 million in losses.
In a later interview, McKinney wouldn’t confirm that, saying he didn’t know exactly how much the company had lost “because it’s not all settled up.”
But he said it was a “considerable amount.”
“I just know we lost money. We’ll do better,” he said.

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