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.