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Archive for Tuesday, January 18, 2005

GOP leaders to reveal health care plan

January 18, 2005

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— Senate Republican leaders have their own plan for attacking rising health care and prescription drug costs, and they say it won't require a tax increase.

GOP leaders scheduled a news conference for Tuesday to outline their alternative to a $50 million plan proposed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a plan she proposes to finance with increases in tobacco taxes.

On Monday, Republicans would discuss only the broad outlines of their plan, which they said would combat drug costs, help consumers make wiser decisions about medical care and address chronic health problems.

"This is a subject we need to tackle," Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, said Monday. "It's a real problem for many Kansans, but we also have to be realistic about the resources that are available."

Leading the effort to draft a GOP plan is Sen. Jim Barnett, of Emporia, a doctor and chairman of the Public Health and Welfare Committee.

"My proposal is doable within the current budget," Barnett said.

Sebelius is pleased Republicans are focusing on health care issues, spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

"She welcomes them to the table," Corcoran said. "She's looking forward to seeing what they have to share."

Sebelius' proposal would increase the state's cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack to $1.29. It also would boost the tax on other tobacco products to 15 percent from 10 percent.

Her proposals would expand state and private health coverage to as many as 100,000 Kansans. She also has formed a commission to look for ways to reduce administrative costs in the health care system.

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