News From Around the State

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Kansas hospitals Keep Kansas Economy Healthy

In 2018, the state’s healthcare sector generated $16.6 billion in income and $28.5 billion in sales, ranking it fifth among all economic sectors in the state, according to the Kansas Hospital Association’s recent report, “The Importance of the Health Care Sector to the Kansas Economy.” The entire health sector employs about 238,000 people or 12 percent of all jobs in Kansas.

Hospitals were the sector’s biggest contributor, generating $7.9 billion in income and $14.8 billion in sales. Hospitals employ more than 93,000 people, accounting for 4.7 percent of all jobs in Kansas.

Hospitals also help other areas of the economy, according to the report. Hospitals help create other jobs — 0.91 jobs for every new job in the hospital sector — in other businesses and industries in Kansas, the report says. Hospitals are also consumers, generating nearly $3.7 billion in local retail sales, according to a KHA news release.

The study found Kansas hospitals generate more than $6.7 billion in direct labor income. For every dollar of income generated in the hospital sector, another 59 cents was generated in other sectors.

The full report and links to county reports can be found at in the Data section.

KAMU is now Community Care Network of Kansas

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU) is now the Community Care Network of Kansas.

“Our new name brings our two most important ideals to the forefront — community and care. We want whole-person, comprehensive care to be the standard of health care for all Kansans, with community care clinics leading this transformation in the communities they serve,” says Denise Cyzman, CEO, in a release on the name change.

About 50 member organizations in the network — representing more than 40 primary care clinics in 100 locations in Kansas — serve the medical, dental and behavioral health care needs of one in 10 Kansans.

Mullins Leaves Ascension Via Christi

Todd Conklin

Mike Mullins has left his position as Senior Vice President, Ascension Healthcare, and Ministry Market Executive, Ascension Kansas-Oklahoma, to become the first president and CEO of Mountain Health Network, a newly created regional, nonprofit health system in West Virginia.

Todd Conklin, Chief Operating Officer, is leading Ascension Kansas during the transition.

Mullins began leading Ascension Via Christi in Kansas in 2016 and became responsible for Ascension’s St. John Health System in Tulsa in 2017. He was instrumental in creating the combined ministry market in both states. A retired naval officer, he’d previously been an executive with an Ascension Indiana provider and with a health-related business in Colorado.

Dishman is New Chief Medical Officer at Stormont Vail Health

Kevin Dishman, MD, was named Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Stormont Vail Health in January. As CMO, Dr. Dishman also serves as President of the Medical Services Division medical staff. Dr. Dishman joined Stormont Vail in Topeka, Kansas, as a hospitalist and has served in many leadership roles, including most recently as the Vice President of Acute Care Services.

Hillsboro hospital in receivership

A district court ruling in late January removed EmpowerHMS as the operator of Hillsboro Community Hospital and installed Cohesive Healthcare Management + Consulting, based in Shawnee, Oklahoma, as the temporary administrator.

The city of Hillsboro and the Bank of Hays had requested Geary County district judge Ryan Rosauer appoint a receiver in the hearing to keep the hospital running as it faces a foreclosure petition, brought by the Bank of Hays for a $9.7 million construction loan made in 2015.

In 2017, the Hillsboro hospital, along with two other Kansas hospitals – in Horton and Oswego – came under the network of the Kansas City-based EmpowerHMS, which on its website calls itself “a leader in the management and ownership of rural hospitals throughout the nation.” EmpowerHMS operates more than a dozen hospitals nationwide, according to its website.

The Hillsboro hospital experienced several financial difficulties under Empower HMS.

In early January, the city of Hillsboro threatened to turn off power if the hospital didn’t pay its nearly $16,645 delinquent utility bill to the city, which owns the utilities; the payment came just a couple of hours before the planned shutoff. The hospital has also been sued by other medical companies for alleged unpaid bills since its association with EmpowerHMS.

The Hillsboro hospital had been among EmpowerHMS facilities in Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arkansas that also experienced some delayed payroll. In Kansas, only the Oswego hospital was not affected by delayed payroll payments in December or January, according to its CEO Bill Cochran.

EmpowerHMS and its founder have been named in other lawsuits, too.

Receivership requests have been filed for two other hospitals in its system – in Tennessee and Oklahoma, according to a Kansas City Star article.

Last year, a Missouri couple who were part owners in hospitals taken over by EmpowerHMS brought a lawsuit against EmpowerHMS CEO Jorge Perez, alleging a hospital billing scheme discovered by Missouri’s state auditor in a hospital in that state was happening in other hospitals also connected to Perez. The couple alleged the scheme used the hospitals to submit reimbursement claims for lab work not done at the hospitals but at other laboratories, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit said the scheme took advantage of the hospitals’ status as critical access rural hospitals under designations by Medicare and Medicaid that allow the facilities to claim substantially higher reimbursements for the lab work than the other labs should be able to claim.

Ascension Via Christi to operate Fort Scott ER

Ascension Via Christi has an agreement to operate Fort Scott’s former emergency room, diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, as soon as it receives regulatory approval, according to an Ascension Via Christi release in late January.

Under the agreement, Ascension Via Christi will lease about 16,000 square feet of clinical space from Mercy, with Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg managing emergency and outpatient services. Mercy announced in October it was closing its hospital in Fort Scott by the end of 2018, but that it planned to pursue opportunities to transfer certain services to other area providers. It transitioned its clinic operations in Fort Scott, Pleasanton and Arma to Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas on Jan. 1.

Study Drops Kansas in Health Ranking

Kansas has dropped to 27th in a comprehensive health ranking of all 50 states in a long-running report by the United Health Foundation. In the previous America’s Health Rankings, Kansas had been 25th. The state ranks 31st for senior health and 25th for the health of women and children.

Kansas’ neighbors were overall ranked as eight, Colorado; 38, Missouri; 15, Nebraska; and 47, Oklahoma.

The 2018 study says Kansas’ strengths were low drug death rate, low prevalence of low birthweight and low prevalence of frequent mental distress. The state’s challenges are high prevalence of physical inactivity, low per capita public health funding and low meningococcal immunization among adolescents.

The report, which has been conducted for 29 years, analyzed a comprehensive set of behaviors, community and environmental conditions, policies, clinical care, and outcomes data to provide a holistic view of the nation’s health, according to a news release. The report looks at 35 core measures across these categories. More information is available at

Ascension Via Christi Structural Heart Program is in Second Abbott Study

Already selected as the first U.S. site to participate in Abbott’s pivotal clinical study of its Tendyne system, the structural heart program at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis is now participating in a separate feasibility study of the Tendyne system to treat another condition.

Since July 2018, the structural heart program has been evaluating the safety and efficacy of Abbott’s first-of-its-kind Tendyne transcatheter mitral valve replacement, or TMVR, system for the treatment of mitral regurgitation, also known as leaky heart valve. The investigational device is the first and only mitral valve replacement that can be repositioned and fully retrieved, allowing the surgeon to precisely place the device during implantation, which could improve patient outcomes.

In the second study, the system is used to treat patients with severe mitral annular calcification, or MAC, a condition in which calcium accumulates along and beneath the mitral valve annulus that separates the top and bottom chambers of the left side of the heart.

KHA Shares Concerns With Gov. Kelly

In an open-letter op ed sent to new Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, the CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association shared some concerns about health care in Kansas. The letter signed by Tom Bell cited such issues as improving the behavioral health continuum in Kansas, as well as supporting rural health care, specifically noting the recent closure in Fort Scott and that innovative healthcare delivery models should be looked at.

The letter called improving the KanCare program “another significant legislative priority.”

“Impending transitions with the Medicaid managed care organizations are creating new obstacles and increasing confusion about the program. KanCare providers and beneficiaries deserve an effective Medicaid program that is devoid of bureaucratic hurdles,” the letter says.

Bell also noted Kansas’ slide in America’s Health Ranking, going from being ranked in the top 10 in the 1990s to 27th in 2018.

KHI Looks at 5 Years of Health Insurance Marketplace Stats

In an issue brief, the Kansas Health Institute looked at some of the changes in the first five open enrollment periods (OEPs) from 2014–2018 of the health insurance marketplace. It also looked at the plans and premiums available to Kansans for 2019, noting that the OEP for 2019 was 45 days, the same as for 2018 but far shorter than the more than six months for the first plan year of 2014.

Key points in the brief included:

  • Premiums for a benchmark plan rose 145.6 percent between plan years 2014 and 2019.
  • The number of plans went from 67 offered by four companies in plan year 2014 to 23 offered by three companies for plan year 2019, with all plans being HMOs or EPOs with limited provider networks.
  • Kansans have selected gold plans more often than the national average in all plans years.
  • The number of Kansas who selected a marketplace plan peaked at 101,555 in plan year 2016 and has remained above 98,000 for the past two years.

For the full brief, visit

Four Kansas Hospitals Earn Blue Distinction Designations

Four contracting Kansas hospitals have earned Blue Distinction Centers for Cardiac Care designations from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. Stormont Vail Health, Topeka, is designated as a Blue Distinction Center for delivering quality cardiac care. Hays Medical CenterHutchinson Regional Medical Center and Wesley Medical Center in Wichita are designated as Blue Distinction Center+, meaning the hospitals met both quality measures and cost efficiency standards.

The designations are based on objective measures developed with input from the medical community and leading accreditation and quality organizations, according to a news release. Designated hospitals have shown expertise in safe, effective cardiac care, focusing on cardiac valve surgery, coronary artery bypass graft and percutaneous coronary interventions episodes of care.