Kansas has small window for input on health insurance exchange

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger. by Phil Cauthon

In the wake of today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Kansas could still avoid ceding total control of its health insurance exchange to the federal government if it moves quickly, Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said.

“That’s probably the best-case scenario now from an exchange standpoint,” Praeger said.

But that would require a meeting of the minds between Praeger and Gov. Sam Brownback and meeting a mid-November deadline for alerting federal officials to the state's intentions.

Last year, Brownback returned a $31.5 million federal grant that would have helped the state develop its own exchange. And today, after the court's decision, the governor vowed he would do nothing to implement the Affordable Care Act's provisions until after the November elections.

“Stopping ObamaCare is now in the hands of the American people," Brownback said. "It begins with electing a new president this fall.”

Opposition from Brownback and Republican legislative leaders resulted in Kansas missing deadlines for establishing its own exchange. Under the federal law, each state must have an operational exchange by Jan. 1, 2014, with plans for it certified by Jan. 1, 2013. States that choose not to implement an exchange on their own would cede that authority to federal officials.

Kansas missed the cutoff for developing its own exchange but could still partner with the federal government on one, an arrangement that Praeger said would allow state officials to set rules for insurance company participation in the online marketplace and direct consumer assistance efforts.

“Plan management and consumer assistance are two functions that our industry and our agent community are most concerned about. So, I think they would like us to retain control,” Praeger said.

Praeger said federal officials have told her that she doesn’t need explicit authorization from Brownback to proceed. She could sign the letter declaring the state’s intention to partner with the federal government on an exchange.

Despite those assurances, Praeger, a moderate Republican who supports the health reform law, said she doesn’t want to circumvent Brownback, a conservative Republican who continues to fight the law.

“Even if I’m allowed to sign the letter, I’m not going to do that unless the governor at least agrees they won’t try to block our efforts,” Praeger said. “After the dust settles, I think we (Praeger and Brownback) will have a conversation and we’ll sort through all of the issues.”

As outlined in the Affordable Care Act, individuals, small-business owners and people whose incomes qualify them for federal subsidies and tax credits would shop for policies using the exchange websites that would help the shoppers sort through coverage and price options. The exchange also could be used to determine eligibility for the Medicaid program, eligibility for which would be expanded under the law where states choose to do so.

→ More in-depth coverage of the Supreme Court's ruling on health reform and its implications for Kansas at khi.org/aca-ruling.

Tagged: obamacare, supreme, act, court, kansas, praeger, affordable, health, exchange, law, care, reform


Stacy Napier 5 years, 9 months ago

Let the feds do it. We don't need yet another thing that the Feds say we have to do, yet we must come up wih the money to do it.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

Really? You apparently do not realize that Brownback refused $30 million in federal money to set up the exchange program.

Are you really that ignorant and yet still post comments like this?

cowboy 5 years, 9 months ago

It will be to our benefit if we get a fed program. A Brownback program will be a gutted program rife with skygod restrictions and mandatory prayer to heal thyself.

Nonsense 5 years, 9 months ago

Praeger for Governor 2014! She is the smartest person in office right now, without an agenda!

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Actually, Sandy Praeger is a whole lot closer to being a classic, moderate Republican than over half of the yahoos in the state house now. They're the true RINOs.
As for having "quack doctor husbands", NOBODY has Michele Bachmann (Ms Crazy Eyes herself) beat.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

Gee, rvjayhawk, one might think you are sexist from your remark. I'm sure you're not, but one might get that idea.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

What a bag of bs. Even if Romney is elected by some outside miracle (or manufactured one a la Florida and/or Iowa), unless he has the Congressional backing, he can't do diddly squat. A President can veto a law before it's enacted but once it's enacted, he cannot simply repeal an existing law by executive order. It doesn't work that way. Sam Brownback spent years in DC and he knows how government works. He is doing what he does best; blowing smoke up people's butts. We really need to make this jerkwater a one termer.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

I would recommend that everyone take this quiz from the Kaiser Foundation and find out just exactly how much you know (or don't know) about the ACA.


blindrabbit 5 years, 9 months ago

Toe; Have to agree about your comment about Praeger' s tie to the Insurance Indusrty and Lobby. In 2004, had a business in Lawrence, tried to get health insurance for me and our other employees by trying to form a "group" of small businesses to gain pricing advantages. Other businesses were interested in joining, but we were rebuked by Praegers office. Since our goal was to provide affordable care, thus insuring more people, I was surprised at the rejection. Never could figure it out other than negative reaction from the Insurance Industry, or the fact that Sandy's hubby was/is a doctor.

George_Braziller 5 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't have anything to do with a decision by the insurance commissioner. It's the way the insurance law is written. Small businesses aren't allowed to create their own insurance collective.

blindrabbit 5 years, 9 months ago

Braziller: Thanks for the information! Would like to know the rationale when the legislation was written as to not allow small businesses to form groups. Talk about a disincentive, but my guess is the Legislature, The Chamber and the Insurance Industry didn't want any of that foolishness.

JHOK32 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe now that THE Supreme Court (yes, that's as in THE HIGHEST LAW OF THE LAND!)has upheld the healthcare law, maybe our wonderful nazi governor will finally get the hint that he is NOT the one in charge of the entire United States! Maybe if he had cancer and was pennyless with no healthcare he just might have a little different perspective on the issue rather than getting HIS healthcare paid for BY US TAXPAYERS! Maybe if he got out of his limo's & mansion (that US TAXPAYERS PAY FOR!), & maybe if HE visited a homeless shelter rather than throwing big GOP parties in the mansion - parties where there is NO business or politics talked about (wink, wink) & while all his GOP fatcats are eating lobster & steak PAID FOR BY US TAXPAYERS!, maybe then he would have a different view? Actually I seriously doubt that will happen, because lets not forget that he goes to Church in Texas & prays to God for the poor & homeless people ....... is anyone else besides me getting sick to their stomachs yet?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.