Andy Marso

Andy Marso is a reporter for KHI News Service, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. HHM is a collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, Kan., KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan.

Marso previously covered state government for the Topeka Capital-Journal where he shared the Burton W. Marvin Kansas News Enterprise Award and received the Great Plains Journalism Award for investigative/project reporting.

Marso has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. He previously wrote for The Olathe News, the St. Cloud Times and the Washington Post. His memoir, “Worth the Pain: How Meningitis Nearly Killed Me – Then Changed My Life for the Better,” was named a 2014 Kansas Notable Book

Kansas public colleges will have to allow firearms on their campuses starting in July. But they’re still battling with the gun lobby over how people should be allowed to carry their guns.

In preparation for the law mandating concealed carry on campuses, the colleges have proposed some restrictions. For example, people carrying a semi-automatic weapon on campuses would not be allowed to keep a round in the chamber.

Kansas legislators heard testimony against physician-assisted suicide Monday from a former state representative.

“This is a direction we don’t want to go,” said Steve Brunk, a Republican who represented a Wichita-area district for 12 years. “We value life, and we don’t want to take the step of looking down this corridor where we negate the value of life and we assist people in dying.”

It’s already a felony for physicians to help patients end their lives in Kansas.

Andy Marso / Kansas News Service

Dr. Saeedeh Salmanzadeh became a U.S. citizen at a naturalization ceremony in October 2015.

When the presiding official asked if any of the new citizens wanted to speak, she was one of the first to raise her hand.

By then Salmanzadeh had spent 15 years in America, after leaving her home in Iran where she was a doctor.

She had spent two years with no pay, studying for exams so she could practice in the United States.

When the Kansas Senate comes back after this week’s midsession break, it may consider legislation to form a comprehensive state plan to fight diabetes.

House Bill 2219 would instruct the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to conduct an analysis of state costs from diabetes, identify best practices to prevent and control the condition, and develop a budget to implement those practices.

It also would require the agency to report on the plan’s progress every two years.

The five-year fight over Gov. Sam Brownback’s efforts to remake Kansas income tax code came to a head Wednesday, and 16 senators voted to let it continue.

With the governor’s signature fiscal accomplishment hanging by a thread, the Kansas Senate fell three votes short in an effort to override a Brownback veto hours after the House did so.

KanCare is a $3 billion program that provides health insurance to more than 425,000 Kansans — complex and bureaucratic by its nature.

And lately it seems the privatized Medicaid program has drawn more than its share of complaints from Kansas medical providers, beneficiaries and applicants.

Some are the result of a switch in 2013 to management not by the state but instead by three private insurance companies, while others stem from court rulings or policymaker decisions.

Kansas House members on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would have increased the amount they could get from campaign donors.

House Bill 2011 would have doubled the amount that individuals, political parties and political action committees could donate to candidates in races for everything from the House and Senate to the governor. But the House voted it down 22-101.

Editor’s note: An update to this story was posted at 5 p.m. Jan. 26.

About 350 elderly and disabled Kansans are suddenly without dental care after an Oklahoma City company informed nursing homes that it was suspending services for Kansas residents whose Medicaid applications are pending.

The company, Sterling Dental, sends dentists to nursing homes in Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas for on-site care.

Health by Got Credit / Flickr Creative Commons

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Accenture faces $750,000 fine for incorrect reporting of application backlog.

News of a mistake that dropped several thousand Kansans from state Medicaid backlog reports has advocates and Democratic lawmakers questioning the state’s oversight of the contractor blamed for the error.

KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Gov. Sam Brownback’s office announced Tuesday he has signed into law a bill allowing the executive branch to suspend indefinitely the water rights of Kansans who fail to file annual water use reports.

Andy Marso / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Almost four years since new nutrition standards were introduced, many kitchens need updates.

Most Kansas school districts have moved to comply with stricter nutrition standards since the U.S. Department of Agriculture imposed them almost four years ago.

But many still lack kitchen equipment necessary to make the healthier school breakfasts and lunches appealing.

Kansas Republicans voted Saturday to leave support for the death penalty out of their party platform. It was the most contentious of the issues Republicans took up at their state convention in Topeka in anticipation of this year’s elections, which will decide the fate of all 125 House seats and 40 Senate seats in the state legislature.

Susie Fagan / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, after Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill reauthorizing the Local Food and Farm Task Force.

Residents of St. John packed a room in late January for an emotional, standing-room-only town hall meeting.

Andy Marso / KHI news service

From the Kansas Health Institute:

JJ Krentz turned away from his iPad and looked up as a blond woman walked into his classroom at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.

With help from his teacher, he stood from his chair and greeted his mother, Tiffanie Krentz.

He knew she was coming and so he parroted the two-word phrase he’d been hearing all day from others when he asked them about “mama.”

“Gotta wait,” JJ said, grinning.

Andy Marso / KHI

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Kiley Klug and Tiffanie Krentz had just finished giving emotional testimony about their children’s persistent seizures during Wednesday’s hearing on legalizing cannabis oil when Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer spoke up.

Ostmeyer, a veteran Republican legislator from a sprawling rural district in western Kansas, told the women he understood, because he has a 36-year-old daughter who was only expected to live to age 10.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Legislators cite need to develop broader audit of foster care system, plan for January vote.

The Legislative Post Audit Committee voted Thursday to delay considering an audit into allegations of bias at the Kansas Department for Children and Families against adoptions by same-sex couples.

Andy Marso / Kaiser Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

A task force that will make recommendations for how to fund the state’s water projects was unveiled Wednesday.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force is part of the 50-year plan to secure the state’s water supply that Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration rolled out last year.

Andy Marso / Kaiser Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

‘Right to Try’ bill would ease access to trial drugs, but some worry about potential consequences.

Signs of the toll amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has taken on Kelli Johnsen’s body are scattered throughout the living room of her Emporia home.

A wheelchair in one corner. A lift in another. A walker near the television.

Susie Fagan

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Three Republicans will not be returning to the House Health and Human Services Committee next year.

The reason: Their support for Medicaid expansion.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Bill would give Department of Agriculture oversight of ‘noxious weed’ designation.

The rows of grapevines at Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery near Paola are withering, with dying leaves and shriveling fruit.

But that’s expected this time of year.

Dave Ranney / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

One of the three companies that administer KanCare co-hosted a fundraiser Wednesday for Republican members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, opening a new chapter in the state’s move to privatized Medicaid.

The three managed care organizations the state contracted with in 2012 receive nearly all their revenue in Kansas from state and federal tax dollars.

Andy Marso / Kansas Health Institute

State contracts for campaign to compel employers to follow federal law.

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Two Kansas government agencies are teaming up on a $50,000 ad campaign urging employers to follow federal child support law.

Cromwell Solar

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Westar Energy faces a challenge — or at least it’s anticipating a challenge — in the growing number of Kansas homes sporting solar panels on their roofs.

Like other utilities, Westar relies on a pricing structure that largely depends on customer usage. The company charges a small monthly fee for customers to access its grid. But for the most part, how much customers pay each month depends on the number of kilowatt-hours of electricity they use.

While health advocates cling to the possibility of Kansas lawmakers using a large tobacco tax increase to help solve the state budget crisis, Statehouse momentum is heading toward a much smaller increase — or none at all.

Groups like the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the University of Kansas Cancer Center praised Gov. Sam Brownback’s January proposal to raise cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack and smokeless tobacco taxes by a similarly large amount.