Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday expressed frustration with Republican lawmakers who rejected a plan to give poor families subsidies to help them buy insurance.
Sebelius, a Democrat, said the Legislature has spent a lot of time and money in recent years to produce a set of recommended reforms from the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which are now getting killed.
"We're going to have at the end of the day, I'm afraid, little to show for it unless the Legislature rolls up their sleeves and gets to work," she told the Lawrence Journal-World.
On Monday, the Senate Health Care Strategies Committee rejected a program for assistance to low-income families to buy private insurance. The plan had been approved last year, and was set to take effect in January 2009.
But facing the first state expenditures on the program, some committee members said more study was needed.
Instead, Republican leaders have embraced expansion of HealthWave, a low-cost insurance program that covers children of working-class families.
"It's good to have those discussions, but we believe expanding a tried-and-true program to help insure kids is a smart and prudent public policy strategy," said Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican.
But Sebelius said Republicans are changing their tune by calling on the Kansas Health Policy Authority to come up with health reform recommendations, and then abandoning those recommendations. Legislative leaders also have dismissed a KHPA recommendation to increase the state cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack. And a proposed statewide smoking ban is bottled up in committee.
In addition, Sebelius noted that her previous proposals to expand health care to youngsters have been ignored by the Republican Legislature.
"Am I for insuring more Kansas kids? Sure. But do I think this is any reasonable response to the charge they set up and have now received? No," she said.
Sebelius said she would meet with legislative leaders to determine "where in the world they are."