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Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is expected to sign into law the Legislature's top health care bill, but she expressed skepticism about one major part of it.
Under Senate Bill 11, which was sent to Sebelius' desk Wednesday on unanimous votes in the House and Senate, the state will provide assistance to low-income adults to purchase health insurance.
The so-called "premium assistance" plan will help 24,000 uninsured Kansas families during a four-year phase in, supporters of the plan said.
"It will ensure that parents and their children are part of the same health insurance plan and help families have access to coordinated and consistent health care services through a 'medical home,'" said Marcia Nielsen, executive director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority.
But Sebelius, a former insurance commissioner, said the group targeted by premium assistance doesn't traditionally shop for insurance.
"I'm not sure that the group identified as the ramp up in Senate Bill 11 will have a lot of take up of that," she said.
Under SB11, starting in 2009, the state will give Kansans making less than 50 percent of the federal poverty limit about $3,200 each year for health insurance. For a single parent with two children, the parent would be eligible if he or she were earning approximately $8,500 per year or less.
By 2012, the state would increase the number of people eligible, providing $77 million per year.
Sebelius said it would make more sense to increase the eligibility levels under Medicaid to insure extremely low-income adults.
But Sebelius has indicated she will sign the health care bill into law because it starts Kansas "down the path to a future in which every Kansan has access to quality care."
Sebelius started the legislative session calling for a plan to provide universal health coverage. An estimated 290,000 Kansans are uninsured.
The bill on her desk also sets up a number of studies aimed at improving access to care and controlling costs.