February 7, 2016

State officials seem to want healthcare reform both ways

Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, 27th District

Ah, early January 2011 the Republicans ride into Topeka on a vote that swept the Democrats out and placed them (the Republicans) in charge of government in the State of Kansas! One of the prime targets for the Republicans moving into power was to derail the enactment of the dreaded Affordable Care Act aka Obama Care.
Hitting the road running by January 19th our State Attorney General, Derrick Schmidt, won the approval from a federal judge in Florida to join the group of states challenging the constitutionality of Obama Care.
Kansas Attorney General, Derrick Schmidt stated, “Kansas is now among the majority of states challenging this unprecedented federal power grab. We will be part of this historic decision that will define the relationship between the federal government, the states and individual citizens for years to come.”
Fast forward to June 1, 2011. Gov. Sam Brownback signs into law the Kansas Health Freedom Act that passed the Senate on a vote of 38 to 1 and the House on a vote of 107 to14.
This act states, “A resident of this state has the right to purchase health insurance or refuse purchase health insurance. The government shall not interfere with a resident’s right to purchase health insurance or with a resident’s right to refuse to purchase health insurance. The government shall not enact a law that would restrict these rights or that would impose a form of punishment for exercising these rights. No provision of this section shall render a resident of this state liable for any punishment, penalty, assessment, fee or fine as a result of such resident’s failure to procure or obtain health insurance coverage or participate in any health care system or plan.”
With Kansas joining the lawsuit challenging Obama Care and the Governor signing Kansas Health Freedom Act, you would think that Kansas must be one of the best states in union as far as being protected from the implementation of Obama Care. But wait, what is happening at the Insurance Commission, headed by Republican Sandy Praeger and KHPA (Kansas Health Policy Authority) headed by Dr. Andrew Allison?
Well, it seems while the Attorney General, the Kansas House, the Kansas Senate and the Governor have been busy fighting the good fight against Obama Care, the good folks at the Insurance Commission and KHPA have been extremely busy spending a $31-plus million federal grant awarded to the Insurance Commission and a $25 million combination of a federal grant and other federal matching funds awarded to KHPA for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act aka Obama Care. Oh, my, all is not as it seems.
The following documentation is for the ketchup bottle readers in the crowd, lengthy, but extremely informative. If you have a tendency toward high blood pressure, perhaps you should take your medication before proceeding further.
The following two federal grants were requested by and awarded to the Kansas Insurance Commission.
Kansas Health Benefits Exchange Planning Grant—KID received a $1 million grant from HHS to begin statewide planning process through September 2011 to identify issues and make decisions related to a Kansas state-based health insurance exchange (part of the implementation requirements under Obama Care, I mean Affordable Care Act), which begins in January 2014.
The link to the grant is:  http://www.ksinsurance.org/consumers/healthreform/EXCHANGE_PLANN-ING_GRANT_APPLICATION_-NARRATIVE_08-31-2010.pdf
Early Innovator Grant—$31.5 million from HHS—for use in building a technology system to provide eligibility services for both Medicaid/CHIP and Kansas Health Benefits Exchange. 
The grant is one of five, two-year grants awarded to states that submitted early innovator exchange implementation proposals.
Kansas is in an advanced state of readiness to serve as an early innovator.
The expanded K-MED project supported by the grant will provide a one-stop, single door determining eligibility for a health benefits exchange.
The grant will work to coordinate the efforts of the Kansas Insurance Department and the Kansas Medicaid and CHIP systems (through KHPA/KDHE). 
The application for the grant was submitted in December, with encouragement from the Kansas Legislature’s Joint House-Senate Health Policy Oversight Committee. 
The health exchange approach is something that Kansas has been looking at for more than 10 years.


  1. Common Sense says:

    Thank goodness for Comm. Praeger and Dr. Allison. It’s good to see some Kansas officials still possess common sense. The Affordable Care Act, which by the way is very similar to plans proposed by our own esteemed Sen. Dole, is not perfect by any means, but is the best attempt yet to address many of the shameful aspects of our health care system, including the high rate of uninsured and the astronomical cost of care. It also happens to be the law of the land.

    When Gov. Brownback, AG Schmidt, and others who support their head-in-the-sand approach come up with a better alternative, we can talk. Until then, thank goodness that Comm. Praeger is using her good Kansas sense and moving forward.

  2. Charlotte O’Hara and other politicians in my opinion do not live in the “real world”. Kansas Republicans have had years and years of opportunity to do something about the health care issue and they have not done a damn thing in my estimation and I don’t anticipate they ever will. I speak from experience since no company would insure me when I hit 63 1/2 years old (my personal physician could see NO reason why they would not insure me – they were discriminating because of age) and my Cobra coverage had expired. In the future you will be seeing more and more companies and government entities reducing or eliminating health care benefits to all employees and the citizens better have something, rather than nothing like they have now, as a backup plan. Good article in the KC Star today about how the Britains are screaming their heads off with some politicians wanting to convert their public health system to more like the American system. The present British Prime Minister is promising going the American way is NOT an option and the people have the other politicians knowing they better hadn’t change to the American system or they are out of office – plain and simple and we need the worthless politicians here in the U.S. having that same understanding on numerous issues – the people better be making their opinions and wants made very clear and holding those politicians’ feet to the fire like never before.

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