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President's Perspective – KHA District Meetings in Progress

District Meeting As I write this week's column, we are in the middle of the fall round of KHA district meetings. This week, we visited Wichita, Salina and Iola. Our agenda has revolved around two areas of focus: federal and state advocacy, and the effects of opioids on our state and communities. In addition, we have reviewed the proposed KHA Strategic Plan and Budget for 2018, heard updates on some important KHA programs, and received presentations from our sponsors KHSC, APS and KaMMCO.

Our discussions regarding federal advocacy have been somewhat challenging because of the shifting positions we have heard from Washington this week on whether the subsidies that support the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces will be paid or cut off. But we also have talked about other important federal issues like the 340B program, reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program, direct supervision, Medicare Extenders and Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital Adjustment.

Our state level advocacy discussions have tended to revolve around what state healthcare policy might look like as our current Lieutenant Gov. Jeff Colyer takes over for Gov. Sam Brownback, who will be leaving soon to take a job in the Trump administration. In addition to an extensive discussion of Medicaid, we've also talked about telemedicine and telehealth and our project regarding new models for rural health delivery. We have spent time reviewing the KHA program to thank those legislators who have demonstrated outstanding support for hospitals and healthcare during the 2017 legislative session. And, of course, we have discussed prospects for the various candidates for Kansas Governor in 2018.

Another focus area of our district meetings has been the opioid epidemic and what it means for Kansas. We've looked at how prescribing patterns in Kansas compare to the rest of the country and how those patterns compare within our state. We've examined data showing opioid dependence risk in Kansas counties. KHA members have provided us with some excellent information regarding the prevalence of not only opioids, but alcohol and other drugs like methamphetamine, and how their communities are fighting this battle. We've also consistently heard about how workplace violence and the threat of such violence figures into this situation.

Our district meetings will continue next week in Colby, Garden City and Topeka. We would love to see you as we continue these discussions.

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--Tom Bell

For more information on the KHA Board Retreat, contact Amy Fluke at (785) 233-7436 or afluke@kha-net.org.
For more information, contact Steve Poage at spoage@kha-net.org or (785) 233-7436.
For more information on this program, contact Steve Poage (spoage@kha-net.org) or Ronni Anderson (kanderson@khsc.org) at (785) 233-7436.
Come and network, have some lunch and hear from talented communication professionals and hot topics related to health care. For more information or additional information, contact Jan Fenwick or Cindy Samuelson at (785) 233-7436.
For more information on this event, contact Ronni Anderson at (785) 233-7436 or kanderson@khsc.org.