Brownback: Wait for November to act on health care

By John Hanna, Associated Press

TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday that he wants to wait until after the November presidential election to move Kansas toward compliance with a key provision of the federal health care overhaul upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brownback told reporters that putting the 2010 health care law into effect in Kansas and other states is a political issue to be resolved by voters.

"If the American people don't want Obamacare, it's a political issue, and it's about this fall presidential race, whether or not you want to implement it," Brownback said. "I want to see what happens in the fall."

Brownback said that if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney unseats Democratic President Barack Obama, who championed the law, states are no longer likely to face a requirement to set up exchanges to help consumers buy health insurance. Exchanges would be online marketplaces for health insurance, allowing consumers to comparison shop, and are sometimes described as the health coverage equivalent of websites such as Travelocity.

The federal law requires each state to operate an exchange by 2014, and plans must be submitted by Nov. 16 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Kansas has not started to set one up because of opposition to the entire law by Brownback and fellow Republicans who dominate the Legislature.

Kansas has about 350,000 residents who don't have health insurance coverage, or 12.7 percent of the state's population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. About 53,000 are children.

Last year, Brownback returned a $31.5 million federal grant to assist the state with the computer infrastructure for an exchange.

Brownback said if Romney is elected, states are likely to get a blanket waiver from the requirement to have exchanges. Under the law, the federal government could operate its own exchange if a state refused to set one up.

The Supreme Court decision is likely to frustrate and anger many Kansas Republicans. Freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a GOP conservative, promised to work for the law's repeal and called Thursday "a definitive date in the advance of government tyranny."

But Kansas House Insurance Committee Chairman Clark Shultz, a Lindsborg Republican, said state officials ought to at least discuss what options Kansas has should an exchange be required.

"It seems that we should at least have something in mind on how we go forward if we need to," Shultz said.

Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat, predicted that even if Romney is elected, he'll have to consider creating exchanges as part of any plan for reforming the health care system.

"He is going to have to deal with the rising cost of health care and the limited options that consumers have in the marketplace," Davis said. "I have really yet to hear the governor or anybody in the Republican Party articulate what the problem with a health insurance exchange is. Until they do that, we're not having much of a meaningful dialogue here."

Insurance Department officials, under Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger's supervision, have said they don't believe the state would have enough time to develop its own exchange. They have suggested that Kansas could seek a partnership with the federal government or have the federal government run the exchange.

Praeger, a Republican, didn't touch on those issues in the statement she issued immediately after the law was upheld.

"The law will be refined as we go forward just as many laws are, but it establishes as public policy the importance of everyone in this country having access to affordable health care," Praeger said.

But she also acknowledged: "We are going to have to wait, however, to see what the November election holds regarding the law's long-term future."

Tagged: Affordable Care Act, Gov. Sam Brownback


Orwell 5 years, 9 months ago

And if we stand on the track and close our eyes that train isn't really bearing down on us.

Nosanity Sam has already blown the chance to figure this out using federal funds instead of Kansas tax dollars. Now he wants us to bet the ranch on the November elections. If he's wrong – again – the Kansas implementation of the health care act will be written in, and imposed on Kansas from, Washington. Totally irresponsible.

Michael Rowland 5 years, 9 months ago

Once again, a wonderful example. He doesn't want to have to do something so throw a hissy fit, ignore the work and hope that at the last minute someone will say "Oh, you don't actually need this." Great example. I can just picture it now, kids in Kansas waiting until the night before to do all their homework hoping that something happens that can take the due dates away.

Jeff Cuttell 5 years, 9 months ago

Could someone clear up a question for me? I was thinking it was the last presidential election that decided this. That was Obama's platform at that time. If voters didn't want it then wouldn't McCain be POTUS?

William Weissbeck 5 years, 9 months ago

And if we also count the time that the GOP will spend contesting the results of every Congressional election (it only took 10 months to seat Sen. Franken from Minn.), Brownback can probably wait another year before he's has to do anything. Given that Intrade laid the odds at 75% that the mandate would be overturned, Brownback better hope he has a different bookie for the Nov. elections.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 9 months ago

Brownback, our governor, resolving confrontation as a toddler would.

bunnyhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

Brownback, our governor!!! Testing the limits of the universe to determine how many different types of ignorance he can exemplify!

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

So...first it's "wait for the SCOTUS decision". Now it's "wait for the election". When is Mr.Brownback going to wise up to the fact that, on this issue, he is indeed a loser? I do have a question, however. If Brownback decides to not loosen up Medicaid, and doesn't receive the extra funding (which you can guarantee is the direction he will choose to go), where are the "Tax dollars" of the people without insurance going to go? That's right, into the Federal coffers and on to other states that actually, you know, care about their people. What a moron.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 9 months ago

Sam, believe me, we're going to act on more than just healthcare come November. Get your resume polished.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Oh and by the way. You think BB is being childish over this? You should see the e-mail Huelskamp fired off! It would have blistered the paint off the wall. He and his other House Publies are simmering over in their corner of the school yard vowing to repeal the AHC. They know it won't get past the Senate but they have to do something to prove they can beat your lunch money out of you.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 9 months ago

What confuses me the most about Brownback is how an individual that proclaims to care intensely about fiscal responsibility can routinely make choices that cost the state substantially more money.

verity 5 years, 9 months ago

Did I miss the memo that said Romney could just reverse this law if he becomes president? Doesn't congress have to vote on it or something?

woodscolt 5 years, 9 months ago

sammy sittin in the corner pouting. What a great way to lead.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 9 months ago

Brownback is the new honey badger...he don't give a s...

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 9 months ago

Even if Romney wins the election, the law can only be changed by an act of congress now that the supreme court has ruled it constitutional. I doubt even a simple GOP majority in both houses could accomplish that due to the senate filibuster the GOP so aptly has demonstrated for two years. This is ostrich style governing...if I bury my head in the sand, maybe that evil predator won't see me...and it will only hurt the uninsured and the entire KS economy...what a LOSER.

StirrrThePot 5 years, 9 months ago

Someone should tell Sammy to move to Canada if he doesn't like it. He'd probably believe it''s a good option.

Larrytown 5 years, 9 months ago

With the comments made by Brownback, I'm wondering if the Federal government will just go ahead (right now) and set up the Federal exchange for the State of Kansas. Reason being, there does not appear to be a good faith effort made by the KS government given that the exchange must be completed by November 16...and Brownback stated no action would be taken until after the November 6th election. That's what the Federal government should do....just take over.

Again, another one of many (I lost count) bad policy decisions made by Brownback administration that ultimately hurts Kansans.

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