Category Archives: Kansas

Medicaid Program Awards Health Care Organizations

State of Kansas Awards Medicaid Contracts to Three Managed Care Companies

Aetna welcomed as new KanCare MCO, Sunflower and United continue service


TOPEKA –  Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Secretary Jeff Andersen and State Medicaid Director Jon Hamdorf are pleased to announce the selection of three managed care organizations (MCOs) that will serve the Kansas Medicaid program, known as KanCare. The contracts include one new organization and two current KanCare companies.


The companies include:

  • Sunflower State Health Plan, Inc.
  • United Healthcare, Midwest Inc.
  • Aetna Better Health of Kansas, Inc.


The MCOs were selected from a pool of six candidates, which submitted bids during a Request for Proposal (RFP) process that concluded yesterday, June 21, when the winning bidders signed their contracts with the State of Kansas, through the Kansas Department of Administration.


“We appreciate the tremendous feedback we have received every step of the way as the contract language was developed,” Secretary Andersen said. “We took into consideration the concerns we received from KanCare consumers, advocacy groups, legislators and other stakeholders. We strive to provide Kansans with a cost-effective and dependable Medicaid program that serves their needs, and the new contracts will further that objective.”


Some of the key improvements in the new contracts include:

  • Greater oversight and accountability
  • Improved response to consumer needs
  • Enhanced care coordination
  • Supported employment pilot for persons with disabilities and behavioral health needs
  • New value-added benefits

Adult dental services will continue.


A multi-step process preceded the 17-member review committee’s evaluation of the six RFP bids. Committee members consisted of KDHE and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) staff members with experience and knowledge working with the Kansas Medicaid system. The evaluations considered cost and technical capabilities to perform the work outlined. A recommendation was then made to Secretary Andersen, who approved and then forwarded the recommendation to the procurement negotiating committee (PNC) and the Department of Administration for review and approval. Based on that process, the PNC then awarded the contracts.


“KanCare has proven an effective and efficient delivery model for Medicaid in Kansas,” said Governor Jeff Colyer. “We have achieved cost savings, but more importantly, we’ve seen greater preventative care access to improve health outcomes for Kansans.”


Consumers currently enrolled in Amerigroup will have the opportunity to select a new MCO during the open enrollment period, beginning in October. Amerigroup will continue to serve as a KanCare MCO through the duration of the existing contract, which is set to expire on Dec. 31.


“These new KanCare contracts will provide Medicaid waiver consumers with enhanced, comprehensive care and services,” said KDADS Secretary Tim Keck. “We are looking forward to offering them improved care coordination and more work opportunities that will encourage them to grow and thrive while living in their home communities.”


For more information about KanCare, visit For evaluation results and the finalized contracts, visit Consumers who have questions about this change can call 785-766-9012.

Flags Half-Staff For Fallen Deputies

Governor Colyer Orders Flags to be Flown at Half-staff in Honor of Fallen Deputies

Topeka – In accordance with Executive Order 10-12, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff state-wide from sun-up until sun-down on Thursday, June 21, 2018, in honor of Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Deputies Theresa “TK” King and Patrick Rohrer who were killed in the line of duty last week.

“These two brave individuals lost their lives protecting the public and we owe them a deep debt of gratitude for their selfless service,” said the Governor. “We pray for their loved ones, as well as all law enforcement officers as we mourn this senseless tragedy.”

A joint funeral will be held for King and Rohrer at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Thursday.

To receive email alerts when the Governor orders flags to half-staff, please visit to subscribe.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education Summit

Dr. Diane DeBacker to join gathering of State and Federal STEM Education Leaders at the White House


TOPEKA – Dr. Diane DeBacker, Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation at the Kansas Department of Commerce, will attend the first-of-its-kind State-Federal Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Summit hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on June 25-26, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

“Education in Kansas, from pre-K through careers, is undergoing significant changes,” said Dr. DeBacker. “The White House STEM Summit will allow the Kansas team to discuss and strategize how we can best incorporate STEM education into the changes.”

According to the OSTP, the State-Federal STEM Education Summit will convene a diverse group of State STEM leaders, including officials from governors’ offices, K-20 educators, workforce and industry representatives, State policy experts, and non-government organization executives. These attendees will participate in the development of a new Federal 5-Year STEM Education Strategic Plan in compliance with America COMPETES Act of 2010.

“This event is the first time an administration has asked for this level of State input when developing a Federal STEM education strategy,” said Jeff Weld, senior policy advisor and assistant director for STEM education at OSTP. “Top-down approaches to STEM education can often yield wonderful ideas, but it’s at the State and community level where the momentum happens. State leaders know best what kinds of programs will work in their communities, and where they need the power of the Federal government to help drive success in this field. STEM education is critical to preparing our students for the jobs of the future. We must do everything we can to ensure that Federal, State, local, and tribal governments, communities, educators, and private industry partners are united for the long-term success of our Nation.”

Alongside OSTP in planning and carrying out this Summit are the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Smithsonian Institution. STEM leaders from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories and tribes, will attend the Summit to illuminate and advance State-Federal STEM alignment.

In 1976, Congress established OSTP to provide the President and others within the Executive Office of the President with advice on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy, national security, homeland security, health, foreign relations, the environment, and the technological recovery and use of resources, among other topics.  OSTP also leads interagency science and technology policy coordination efforts, assists the Office of Management and Budget with an annual review and analysis of Federal research and development in budgets, and serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans, and programs of the Federal Government.

Dr. DeBacker, a former State of Kansas Education Commissioner, was appointed to her position in 2017 by Governor Sam Brownback and continues to serve under the leadership of Governor Jeff Colyer, MD.  The purpose of the Executive Director of Business and Education Innovation role is to help bridge the gap between the workforce needs of Kansas industry and the way students are educated in the state.  Dr. DeBacker also serves as the Executive Director of the Governor’s Education Council, a group of 30+ educators, business leaders, and students.

Having worked in the education field since graduating from Emporia State University in 1982 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education, Dr. DeBacker obtained her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Washburn University in 1987 and Doctorate of Educational Administration and Leadership from Kansas State University in 2002. During her 35 years of experience in the education field, Dr. DeBacker has served in a variety of roles across the education spectrum including as an adjunct professor, principal, associate superintendent, elected local board of education member, education advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates, in addition to her service for four years as the Commissioner of Education for the State of Kansas.

Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy Available for Limited Time


Kansas residents receive support to quit smoking and end tobacco products use


TOPEKA –  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE)’s Bureau of Health Promotion is encouraging Kansas residents who want to quit using tobacco products to take advantage of the opportunity to get free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). The NRT will be shipped directly to their homes by calling the Kansas Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign that began in April, the Kansas Tobacco Quitline is offering a free two-week supply of NRT to all callers who register, while supplies last.


About one in six (17.2 percent) Kansas adults, age 18 years and older, are current cigarette smokers. And more than half of them have tried to quit smoking at least once in the past year.


“Quitting smoking not only benefits the health of the smoker but also helps to protect their loved ones from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure,” said Dr. Greg Lakin, KDHE Chief Medical Officer.


The Kansas Tobacco Quitline is a free, 24/7 resource available to Kansas residents to help them quit smoking. The Quitline provides help, such as counseling, a personalized Quit Plan and quitting support by phone and through online services. The Quitline can be reached by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visiting


“We want people to know that although quitting tobacco is hard, they can do it,” said Matthew Schrock, KDHE Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator. “Smokers often need to make several quit attempts before succeeding, but proven treatments and services are available that can improve your chances to quit for good.”

The Kansas Tobacco Quitline is supported by KDHE. For more information on the Kansas Tobacco Use Prevention Program, visit

KCC Public Hearing on Westar’s Proposed Increase of $5.91 Per Month

KCC schedules Wichita public hearing on Westar’s rate change application


Topeka – The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) will hold a public hearing on Thursday, June 28 in Wichita to receive input from Westar Energy customers on the company’s rate change request.  The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at Wichita State University’s Lowe Auditorium located at 5015 E. 29th St. N. in Wichita. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed rate change, ask questions of the company and KCC staff and make comments to KCC Commissioners.


A public hearing was held in Topeka on May 22, and broadcast live on the KCC website. This public hearing in Wichita was scheduled to provide Wichita area residents with the opportunity to speak directly to Commissioners and share their thoughts regarding the proposed rate change.


The application, filed by Westar in February, requests a $1.56 million dollar rate decrease effective September 2018 and a $54.2 million dollar rate increase in February 2019 for the company’s retail rate customers.  Combined, the adjustments would increase prices by $52.6 million. If approved, residential customers with average monthly consumption of 900-kilowatt hours of electricity will see a monthly increase of $5.91 per month. The request also includes updated tariffs for customers who installed their own source of electric power after October 28, 2015. A complete copy of Westar Energy’s Application and supporting testimony is available on the Commission’s website.


The Commission will accept public comments through 5 p.m. CDT, July 18, 2018. There are three convenient ways to submit a comment:

1)      Go to the KCC website ( and click on the “Your Opinion Matters” link to submit a comment.

2)      Send a written letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and  Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604‑4027. Be sure to reference Docket No. 18‑WSEE‑328-RTS.

3)      Call the Commission’s Public Affairs office at 1‑800‑662‑0027 or 785-271‑3140.

Governor Colyer Announces Launch of KanTrack Website

Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. Announces Launch of KanTrack Website


Topeka– Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. today announced the launch of the state’s new KanTrack website, which is a hub used to track performance metrics of state agencies. These metrics measure the most critical functions of their respective agencies and make that information readily available to the public at the click of a button.

“When I became governor one of my first actions was to sign a series of executive orders aimed at increasing government transparency, including through the creation of the KanTrack website,” said Governor Colyer. This website will increase the public’s ability to observe the efficiency of government agencies, be informed on how we are performing and allow them to take a more active role in the governing process. The launch of this site was important to me because I believe transparency is the key to better accountability and accountability is the key to getting real results.”

In February, Governor Colyer signed Executive Order 18-07 ordering the creation of the KanTrack dashboard to make key performance measures for Kansas Executive Branch Cabinet-level agencies publicly accessible. Governor Colyer remains committed to improving the transparency, efficiency, and responsiveness of Kansas government.

The website can be viewed at





(June 7, 2018) – The 44th year of the longest-running bicycling event in Kansas history—a 558-mile ride across the State—begins Saturday, June 9, 2018. BIKING ACROSS KANSAS (BAK) is an eight-day tour originating at the Kansas-Colorado line with up to 700 bicyclists, including support staff.


The bicyclists will start at the Kansas-Colorado line west of Johnson City. Their overnight stops will be Montezuma, Ashland, Pratt, Clearwater, Burden, Fredonia, and Arma. The cyclists’ final night together will be in Arma on Friday, June 15. The following morning, they will cycle to the Missouri border in Arcadia and cycle into Fort Scott, where they will celebrate the end of the ride with a picnic at the Fort Scott National Historic Site.


BAK is also routed through Ulysses, Meade, Greensburg, Coldwater, Zenda, Belle Plaine, Winfield, Longton, Elk City, St. Paul, and many more Kansas towns.


“2018 offers a variation of the much-requested southern route that Biking Across Kansas has visited less frequently than other parts of the state. The route will take cyclists through several scenic regions of Kansas including the wide-open High Plains, the Red Hills, the famed wheat country of south-central Kansas, and the rolling Flint Hills. Highlights along the way include the Adobe Museum in Ulysses, the Stauth Museum in Montezuma, the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, the Big Basin sinkhole in Clark County, the World’s Largest Hand-Dug Well in Greensburg, the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, and Historic Fort Scott.” said David Rohr, Chairman of Biking Across Kansas, Inc.


Participants will enjoy the state’s favorable cycling conditions as well as people, attractions, food, and entertainment in rural Kansas. Bicyclists will also visit residents at Parkwood Village in Pratt and Morningstar Care in Fredonia to visit with residents and share about bicycling gear, and BAK. The Spokesmen, BAK’s barbershop chorus, will serenade residents.


Participants represent 26 states and 124 cities in 65 Kansas counties. Ages range from 10 – 85. Quite a number of riders have participated in BAK for over 40 years.


The primary objectives of Biking Across Kansas are to promote wellness through bicycling, celebrate Kansas history and the beauty of its landscape, and enjoy the warm hospitality of its towns and people.


For more information on Biking Across Kansas 2018, visit


About Biking Across Kansas

Biking Across Kansas (BAK) is an annual, eight-day, bicycle tour across the state of Kansas. BAK promotes health and wellness through bicycling, the history and beauty of the Kansas landscape, and the warm hospitality of the Kansas towns and people. BAK started in 1975 and has been an annual event bicyclist and Kansas local look forward to annually.

2018 Notable Kansas Books

The State Library of Kansas Announces the 2018 Kansas Notable Books

15 books celebrating Kansas cultural heritage


Topeka, KS — Acting State Librarian Eric Norris announced today the 13th annual selection of Kansas Notable Books. The fifteen books feature quality titles with a wide public appeal, either written by a Kansan or about a Kansas-related topic.


“I am proud to present the 2018 Kansas Notable Book list.  Choosing only 15 books is no easy task,” said Eric Norris, Acting State Librarian. “The selection committee began with a pool of over 100 submitted titles and worked diligently to identify the year’s best works by authors and illustrators from Kansas, as well as those works that highlight our history and heritage. Kansans are encouraged to visit their local public library and celebrate the artists and the artistry of Kansas.”


Kansas Notable Books is a project of the Kansas Center for the Book, a program of the State Library. The Kansas Center for the Book is a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Throughout the award year, the State Library promotes and encourages the promotion of all the titles on this year’s list at literary events, and among librarians and booksellers.


An awards ceremony will be held at the Kansas Book Festival, Saturday, September 8, 2018, 9:30 a.m., at the State Capitol to recognize the talented Notable Book authors. The public is invited.


For more information about Kansas Notable Books, call 785-296-3296, visit or email



2018 Kansas Notable Books


Bad Kansas: Stories by Becky Mandelbaum (Rockport WA), University of Georgia Press

In this darkly humorous collection, Kansas becomes a state of mind as the characters struggle to define their relationship to home and what it means to stay or leave, to hold on or let go.


Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs by Carol Murray (Overland Park), illustrations by Melissa Sweet (Portland ME). Henry Holt & Co

Playful poems highlight surprising facts about the world of insects – from familiar ants and exotic dragonflies to cringe-worthy ticks and magnificent fireflies in this picture book for children.


Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin (Sag Harbor NY), St. Martin’s Press

Cowpokes, desperadoes, and lawmen: it wasn’t always easy to tell which was which. This rollicking tale of Dodge City brims with colorful characters. From frontier settlement to cattle drives, to a railroad town, the history of Dodge City is the story of how the West was won.

Feet of the Messenger: Poems by H.C. Palmer (Lenexa), BkMk Press Books

Between the horrors of the Vietnam War and the pacific silences of the Kansas prairie, these poems honor both the beauty of the English language and the ancient powers of poetry to speak experience without diminishing it.


Fireflies in the Gathering Dark: Poems by Maril Crabtree (Mission), Aldrich Press

These poems traverse landscapes, inner and outer: physical landscapes and metaphysical ones; the landscape of relationships; the landscape of age, from childhood to maturity; and the questing landscape that leads to new understandings.


Headlights on the Prairie: Essays on Home by Robert Rebein (Irvington IN), University Press of Kansas

These essays bring a storyteller’s gifts to life’s dramas, large and small. Moments of singular grace and grit encapsulate the lives of feedlot cowboys, long-haul truckers, and farm kids dreaming of basketball glory.


Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower’s Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy by David A. Nichols (Winfield), Simon & Schuster

This fast-paced account reveals President Eisenhower’s subtly clever role in the destruction of demagogue Joe McCarthy. Drawn from documents in the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Nichols presents a gripping story of a classic power struggle.


Kansas Baseball, 1858-1941 by Mark E. Eberle (Hays), University Press of Kansas

The early history of baseball in Kansas is the story of towns and the ballparks they built. It was a time when baseball was adopted by early settlers, then taken up by soldiers sent west, and finally by teams formed to express the identity of growing and diverse communities.


Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers by Marci Penner (Inman) and WenDee Rowe (Inman), Kansas Sampler Foundation

The ultimate guidebook for all things to see and do in Kansas features 4,500 attractions, 843 eateries, and more than 1,600 color photos. Counties are arranged alphabetically within six geographic regions as are the cities within each county. Entries include directions, hours and contact information.


The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James (Lawrence) and Rachel McCarthy James (Lawrence), Scribner

A baseball statistician and his daughter deliver a provocative story that aims to solve a 100-year-old mass murder case. The two painstakingly scoured thousands of newspapers and records to discover and reveal the identity of one of the deadliest serial killers in America.


Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Asheville NC), HarperTeen

While the stories of three women span multiple generations and thousands of miles, their lives are intertwined. Before leaving Kansas to go to Mars, Adri discovers Catherine’s journal of the Dust Bowl and Lenore’s letters about World War I. Each story weaves a unifying thread of hope.


The Shape of Ideas: An Illustrated Exploration of Creativity by Grant Snider (Derby), Abrams ComicArts

What do ideas look like? Where do they come from? These one- and two-page comics have been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Kansas City Star. They are a colorful look into the creative process.


Stark Mad Abolitionists: Lawrence, Kansas, and the Battle over Slavery in the Civil War Era by Robert K. Sutton (Bethesda MD), Skyhorse Publishing

In 1854, Boston was in an uproar. Businessman Amos Adams Lawrence was inspired to put his efforts and considerable fortune toward keeping slavery out of Kansas. The town that came to bear Lawrence’s name became part of a bigger story of people willing to risk their lives and fortunes for freedom.


That is My Dream! by Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares (Lenexa), Schwartz & Wade

Langston Hughes’s inspiring and timeless poem “Dream Variation” comes joyously to life in a gorgeously illustrated picture book. Follow one child on a walk through his small segregated town in the 1950s. Then watch his mind take flight as he images a brighter, more inclusive world.


To The Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman (Long Beach CA), She Writes Press

Inspired by the women who built fifty-nine Carnegie libraries in Kansas, the No Guilt Quilters overcome numerous obstacles to build the Cultural Center on the Plains- proving that New Hope is more than just the name of a town.