Candidates running for office in parts of southeast Kansas get an earful from residents about public school funding and the state’s budget mess. But with rural and small town hospitals closing their doors due to financial problems, many voters say they are also concerned about access to health care. It’s difficult to know how much the closure last year of Mercy Hospital in Independence factored in the defeat of two of the area’s longtime Republican lawmakers in the recent primary. But it is clear that health care is at the top of the agenda for the candidates who are still in the race. Reporter Jim McLean of the KHI News Service visited southeast Kansas to find out what candidates and voters are saying about health care and Medicaid expansion.
Jim McLean is executive editor of the KHI News Service, a partner with Kansas Public Radio in a statewide collaboration covering elections in Kansas. The 2016 Kansas elections project partners include the KHI News Service, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR, KMUW, and High Plains Public Radio.