By Gene Meyer | Kansas Reporter
“Kansans feel Obamacare is an overreach by Washington and have rejected the state’s participation in this federal program,” Brownback said in a statement.
“ My administration will not partner with the federal government to create a state-federal partnership insurance exchange because we will not benefit from it and implementing it could cost Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said.
The partnership to which Brownback refers is an offer allowing states that aren’t building their own insurance exchanges to share in the operation of a federal version.
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, the state’s top insurance regulator, advocated taking the offer to keep as much Kansas control over the programs as possible, but Brownback rejected that recommendation Thursday.
Brownback and many conservative legislators have opposed the Affordable Care Act, which they call Obamacare, and view its universal coverage requirements as an intrusion on state and individual rights.
In August, 2011, the governor halted all state efforts to implement the law, hoping that a Mitt Romney victory in Tuesday’s election would lead to a national repeal of the plan. Brownback also returned $31.5 million in federal funding to help organize computerized health exchanges, which the law requires to help uninsured consumers find coverage required by law.
Romney failed to win Tuesday’s election and, following U.S. Supreme Court ratification of Obamacare earlier this year, Kansas now appears to have little choice other than to participate in an exchange of some kind.
Brownback’s rejection of a partial role in running the program in Kansas may not be as stark a choice as it first seems, said Beverly Gossage, founder of HSA Benefits Consulting Inc. in Eudora, and a policy specialist involved in the planning for the since-abandoned Kansas exchange.
Fundamentally, “it makes no difference what Kansas does,” Gossage said. “When you read the regulations, which are now more pages than the law itself, what a ‘partnership’ does, in reality, is give HHS the right to change anything at any time.”
Nationally, some 15 states and the District of Columbia have begun creating frameworks for their health exchanges, according to HHS’ website. Three others are exploring partnership arrangements.
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