Archive for Friday, January 11, 2008

Sebelius, former foe support cigarette tax

Kansas leaders recommend $227 million health care package

January 11, 2008


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and state Sen. Jim Barnett - opponents in the 2006 gubernatorial election - joined forces Thursday to push for health care proposals that include a 50-cent-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax.

"I will be campaigning for this, urging people to do it, twisting arms to do it," Sebelius said.

Appearing at a news conference with Sebelius, Barnett, R-Emporia, pledged his support, saying, "It's the right thing to do."

When lawmakers convene the legislative session Monday, one of the main issues will be health care. Approximately 300,000 Kansans have no health insurance.

The Kansas Health Policy Authority has produced 21 recommendations that it says will improve Kansans' health and make insurance more affordable and the system more efficient. The package would cost an estimated $227 million over five years and has support from dozens of health organizations.

One of the more high-profile proposals is an increase on the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The state tax on a pack of cigarettes is 79 cents. The proposal would increase that to $1.29.

Sebelius said an increase in the cigarette tax benefits the state by providing more revenue to combat illness, much of which is related to smoking. And she said the increased price discourages young people from smoking and, in the long run, reduces health care costs.

Barnett said the tax increase will be a "tough sell" in the Legislature, especially during an election year, but added the proposal would gain greater political traction if Kansans are guaranteed the funds will go toward health care.

He said the time is ripe in Kansas and nationally to reform the health care system. But in the give and take of the Legislature, the recommendations may be changed - and some may be approved this year and some later.

"This is not the last year. This is just one of many years of health care reform that we will deal with in the Kansas Legislature. So, let's get everything we can done this session, and then we come back next year," he said.

But state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the tax increase was necessary to expand coverage.

"I hope that we don't take the chicken way out and vote on the good stuff and let the hard stuff, voting for a tax increase, go away," Kelly said.


coldandhot 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't smoke. And I think this is the wrong thing to do. The Kansas Health Policy Authority is government sponsored healthcare....Booooooooooo The government should stay out of healthcare. Everything they get their hands on is usually run poorly.

Sharon Aikins 10 years, 3 months ago

I would like to see additional taxes on alcohol as well. While I agree that smoking is a health issue for smokers and that second hand smoke kills people, drunk drivers kill a lot as well. If this passes will any of the money go toward helping smokers quit or will it just be a cash cow? I agree that government in health care will probably just mean a messed up system with the money going to all the wrong places. Is the extra money already being collected as taxes on cigarettes used for health care for the uninsured or used to keep the bureaucracy fat?

DRsmith 10 years, 3 months ago

Fast food tax? Lung cancer is a health care drain and heart disease isn't?

BigDog 10 years, 3 months ago

Money from smokers seems to be the states cash cow.

If they would have used the money from the tobacco settlement for health programs maybe I could see this in a more favorable light. Instead the Governor and Kansas Legislature used the tobacco settlement for a variety of programs like childrens mental health .... foster care .... etc. It was just another funding source and zero was dedicated to adults with smoking related illnesses or education programs to reduce smoking.

And until the last year or so Kansas only spent $100,000 per year on smoking cessation programs from these tobacco settlement funds. Out of the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars Kansas has received .... they spent almost nothing on helping people quit or programs to reduce teen smoking. Seems to me a little disingenuous for the Governor and others to want people to quit but invest nothing in helping smokers quit.

Meatwad 10 years, 3 months ago

Smokers should have to pay for their ailments. It's not my fault they choose to smoke. I shouldn't have to pay for them. I'd be more than fine with a fast food tax too.

BigDog 10 years, 3 months ago

Why not? How about a lack of exercise tax ..... or an increased alcohol tax? Both of those contribute to health problems also.

Raider 10 years, 3 months ago

"Why not? How about a lack of exercise tax :.. or an increased alcohol tax? Both of those contribute to health problems also."

Here! Here!! Amen! Why don't we tax people "per pound" over the federal weight guidelines? Maybe $0.50 / lb per month. Have a monthly weigh-in down at the county courthouse. Use the money to fund health programs for obesity related diseases.

Any time the state needs more funds they attack the boozehounds and smokers. It's getting ridiculous. There are alot more things out there to tax. Get the church out of the statehouse and stop preying on the "sinners".

Erin Parmelee 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't know about a fax tax, but what about a tax incentive. A little bonus if you get off your rear.....that might inspire some people. :)

hawklet21 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't mind paying a cigarette tax, especially for healthcare, but they had better tax the $hit out of Twinkies and Cheetos.

trinity 10 years, 3 months ago

i DO mind paying a ciggie tax. redmoon&bigdog's posts were pretty darn right on. i mean hey, if we're going to open cans of worms, how 'bout we take a good hard serious look at the REPEAT dui offenders who, on sometimes their 5th or 6th dui, take out someone or maybe multiple someones? what about cracking on THAT instead of just regurgitating rhetoric? hold these judges accountable! put something in place in this system that GUARANTEES that after two dui's-you do NOT have an opportunity to drive drunk! grrrrr...

justthefacts 10 years, 3 months ago

Two points (opinions) I'd like to make/express:

  1. While I believe cigarette smoking is a bad (filthy) habit and should be discouraged, it is a statistical fact that a larger % of people who smoke are in a lower income level. So taxing them (to pay for anything) is a regressive tax; it will impact the poor more harshly and more often. Harsh as it may seem to many, those who do bad things to themselves should be allowed to do so - in a free society - and then required to suffer the negative consequences that result - on their own and without my tax money.

  2. As for government health care programs, I will paraphrase the newly elected Governor of Lousianna: "The same people who criticize the government for not handling the Hurricane Katrinna situation better are often the same people who favor the government handling health care. Don't they see the irony of taking those two positions at the same time?"

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 3 months ago

justthefacts your number 2 works both ways... most of the people who defend the government's handling of the hurricane oppose the government handling health care...

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 3 months ago

but then... if there had been a Democrat in the presidency and the hurricane was handle just as poorly I wonder if the same people would have defended the government... likely not...

justthefacts 10 years, 3 months ago

Uh...yea...That is consistent though. Those who don't want the government in anything (or as little as possible) are being consistent if they think the government did OK with Katrinna still may not think the government should be involved in health care. They want the government out of most things, in general. That IS a little more logical then trusting the government to do new things for us while all the while criticizing how badly they do what they've already got on their plates. If government cannot handle one kind of crises, what makes people think it can handle another any better?

janeyb 10 years, 3 months ago

Smokers, boozers and non-exercisers? Aren't these the same people? That would be a triple tax whammy.

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 3 months ago

Why not a sales tax increase? The Gov. doesn't have the guts to do it.

tell_it_like_it_is 10 years, 3 months ago

Hell why not just tax or ban everything that brings people any type of pleasure or relaxation? Start with cigarettes and fast food. Then you can move on to alcohol. Then you can put an extra tax on each TV and computer sold and on cable and satalite bills. We all know sitting around watching TV and playing on the computer isn't good for you. You'll have to pay extra for your coffee tea and soda too because we all know about that evil caffine. And don't forget that raw cookie dough for GOD sakes! That will kill you for sure. Better tax anyone buying chocolate chips. You know that might be making some cookies and eating the dough. Do you like your steak rare? Well man are you in trouble! Shoot they'll have us all whipped into shape like sheep in no time!!

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