Archive for Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sebelius will ask for 50-cent increase in cigarette tax to help pay for health care reforms

State leaders say proposal to help insure low-income Kansans would again fail in Legislature

September 9, 2008, 12:36 p.m. Updated September 9, 2008, 5:55 p.m.


On the street

Do you usually support raising sin taxes to find money to pay for government programs?

Usually I do. I think that the products sin tax is charged on are unnecessary, and therefore if people want them, they can pay more for them. And a higher tax on them might discourage people from using them, which is usually better for their health.

More responses

— With the number of uninsured Kansans increasing, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday said she would again ask the Legislature to approve a package of health care reforms that includes a 50-cent increase in the cigarette tax.

"We'll put that right back on the table," she said, referring to recommendations made by the Kansas Health Policy Authority.

Legislative leaders said Sebelius will probably get the same answer as before: no way.

House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls, criticized the proposal, saying, "My guess is if the cigarette tax was passed, the money would be spent on something else."

Even one of Sebelius' fellow Democrats, House Minority Leader Dennis McKinney of Greensburg, said an increase in the cigarette tax to help provide health insurance to extremely low-income Kansans was probably a nonstarter.

He said raising the Kansas cigarette tax from its current rate of 79 cents per pack to $1.29 per pack would hurt Kansas retailers who operate near bordering states. Missouri's cigarette tax is 17 cents per pack.

"That's one of the challenges of that policy," he said.

But McKinney urged the Kansas Health Policy Authority and lawmakers to continue working on reforms.

"The Health Policy Authority has credibility and expertise. Sometimes it takes a few years," he said.

He suggested one of the KHPA proposals to provide assistance to low-income Kansans to purchase private insurance should be done first as a pilot project so that lawmakers will get "comfortable" with the idea.

During the last session, the KHPA's major recommendations went nowhere.

Now Kansas is one of only 10 states where the ranks of the uninsured is on the rise. The number of uninsured Kansans has increased to 12.5 percent in 2006-07 from 11.3 percent in 2005-06, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. That means about 340,000 Kansans have no health insurance.

Sebelius said lawmakers should abide by the KHPA recommendations, noting that the Legislature helped create the agency and charged it with producing reforms.

"Unfortunately, although the Legislature asked for the plan, got the plan, and it would've been funded with an additional stream of revenue, they decided to take it off the table from the outset," Sebelius said. "So I think we are seeing some of the results.

"The results should not be surprising, but they are very alarming to a lot of Kansas families."


situveux1 9 years, 7 months ago

It would seem like a better idea to cut spending and use money the state already has rather than tax something that people continue to do less and less. The tax will cause some to stop smoking and then you'll have to raise the tax to keep getting the same amount of money. Then you'll loose more smokers. It's a vicious cycle.

Lowell Holmes 9 years, 7 months ago

I am for taxing smokers to pay for their own health care, but I believe it is unfair to use that money to pay for others non smoking related health issues.

John Hamm 9 years, 7 months ago

Ridiculous!Just trying to get them greedy hands on some more money to waste it where it wasn't supposed to be spent!

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 7 months ago

There needs to be a big increase on alcohol.Somehow, fat people need to pay more tax on the food they buy and eat. There fatness is very serious issue.Taxing cigarettes is getting old. You can squeeze only so much out of smokers.Lastly, this entire "uninsured crisis" is overblown. Many of these people do not want insurance and it's their decision. Just because they don't want it doesn't mean they should be counted in the real "numbers" game.

8ball 9 years, 7 months ago

1st of all,i am not a smoker,but wouldn't it raise more money if we put a 50 cent per salad tax this day and age it seems there would be more salad eaters than smokers.just a thought

8ball 9 years, 7 months ago

babboy,i hope you meant addiction because i cannot add very well,as far as the name i was pretty good on the pool table back in the day

Clickker 9 years, 7 months ago

I love it when people write in and state " I am not a smoker"..and then offer some opinion that only a smoker would 'dont raise taxes on cigarrettes' or ' dont ban smoking from restaraunts' etc......yeah right!!

George_Braziller 9 years, 7 months ago

Why is it that tobacco is always the target for tax increases? What about a tax on brie, crackers, wine and chocolate covered strawberries? Now THERE is a cash cow.

Centerville 9 years, 7 months ago

And don't forget the 14% increase in our electric rates that Sebelius has promised Westar (and that's just the increase for this year) if they would help manufacture some publicity for her VP run. It's getting pretty expensive to fund her free ride out of here.

Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

Blaming health insurance for the high cost of health care is like blaming your credit card for the high cost of gas.

Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

Great, create an entitlement that is supported by taxes on a behavior that you are trying to eliminate.When the smokers die off or just cannot afford to buy cigarettes any more, how will this entitlement be funded? The Federal transportation dept has run out of funds to give to states for road repairs because - gasp! - the gasoline tax revenues are down because people are buying less gas. That will eventually happen with this silly idea, too.

Godot 9 years, 7 months ago

"george_nye (Anonymous) says: Smokers should pay more."People who don't know what they are talking about should pay more - they make society dumber.Earth to Nye - if you are referring to health insurance, smokers DO pay more.

sfjayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

smokers have a big financial weight on the overall healthcare system and need to pay for it themselves.

sinedie 9 years, 7 months ago

Aren't there about 50,000 uninsured children in Kansas?I'm not saying the policy is right or wrong, but it IS disturbing that we have so many children without affordable access to health care.

pace 9 years, 7 months ago

I smoke, i think it is ok. I think some of the money should go to developing real health care program for everyone,

BigPrune 9 years, 7 months ago

Whatever happened to the tobacco settlement money?

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 7 months ago

"If we tax cigarettes to pay for healthcare, aren't we just taxing the people this is supposed to help? "Yes, and that's why it makes sense. Smokers are driving-up health care costs, let them pay for it.

craigers 9 years, 7 months ago

While I agree that smoking causes health problems and later even more health care costs, I don't think smokers should shoulder all the costs. However this is our typical governor... tax, tax, tax.

KS 9 years, 7 months ago

Kathy, what the hell did you do with the tobacco settlement money? That is what it was supposed to be used for. She also supports that "O" guy!

Joel Hood 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't smoke, I have no love of smoking, but am I the only one who sees greater taxes on tobacco as regressive taxation? I have no demographic information, but don't a high percentage of smokers fall below median income? I'm really not making a statement, but I am curious what other people think.

Reaper2K 9 years, 7 months ago

If we tax cigarettes to pay for healthcare, aren't we just taxing the people this is supposed to help? How about we cut waste instead? No new taxes!

PapaB 9 years, 7 months ago

Smoking is just like people playing the lottery - voluntary taxation. If you choose not to play, you don't have to pay. I have no problem with it.

janeyb 9 years, 7 months ago

Guy got out of his car next to me today with what looked liked a complete cigarette, took a puff, threw it on the ground and walked into a store. Cigarettes are not expensive enough if they can be thrown down about 1/4 smoked. Tax the cigarettes.

voltage 9 years, 7 months ago

Forget smokers, levy a tax on fast food and other nutritionally unhealthy items. Don't call it a fat tax, though. Re-word it so people feel better about voting yes for it until their next unhealthy food choice.Heart disease causes 100,000 more deaths per year than cancer. I'm sure that no one would complain about paying a dollar more for something that they don't need and isn't good for them. Eat a salad instead of a burger for a change, it's good for you.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I got a better idea. Why not donate her salary. She sure isn't doing any work in Ks these days, now is she.

Rationalanimal 9 years, 7 months ago

"My guess is if the cigarette tax was passed, the money would be spent on something else."You don't have to guess, it's a guarantee. Socialists like Sebellius tax in the name of benevolence and social welfare and then mismanage the trust account--i.e. Social Security, medicare, K-Tag, federal road funds. After using the taxpayer trust account to buy magic beans, they then come back and ask for more thinking taxpayers are too stupid to ask where the original money went to. Sebellius' day is coming. She's had it too good for too long in Kansas as evidenced by a complete lack of concern for fiscal accountability.

cowgomoo 9 years, 7 months ago

People who sit on their rear end and submit hundreds and thousands of comments to the LJ World are driving up health care. Back away from the computer, go outside and take a walk in the fresh air....maybe even interact with a person face to face. Inactivity and complete immersion in bile and spite has to be worse than a pack a day.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 7 months ago

Just ban the ciggies & be done with it.

kmat 9 years, 7 months ago

"Godot (Anonymous) says: Blaming health insurance for the high cost of health care is like blaming your credit card for the high cost of gas."Part of the high cost of health care is due to health insurance. next time you go to your Dr., ask how many employees they have to handle the insurance paperwork hassle? Now, multiply that number for all Dr.'s in the country. It's a huge amount of money and we have to pay for the employees.

Catbacker 9 years, 7 months ago

I thought Kathy's boy was going to bring about universal health care? Why does she even need to consider this? Hmmm.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

How about a drive-through tax? (Any drive-through, not just fast-food joints.) If you won't get out of your car to go in, pay a 50 cent surcharge. Use that for highway funding and free up other funds for health insurance.

c_dubya 9 years, 7 months ago

Every time a cigarette tax is proposed to spend on 'health care' or 'smoking prevention' or whatever else it always ends up being spent on everything else besides the original stated intent. This is a scam to get voters to agree to a tax increase on the poor so governor kitty can spend more.I am not a smoker but I think it's awful how smokers are treated like 2nd class citizens these days.

George_Braziller 9 years, 7 months ago

In 1983 or '84 I took a sociology class at KU called "Sociology of Work" taught by Sandra Albrecht. It was truly fascinating. During one of the classes she showed a film about coal miners in West Virginia. Someone in the class commented about how many of the the people in the film were smoking. I still remember her saying that when you are poor and you are working a hard job and life sucks the one luxury that you can afford is a smoke.Guess that in 2008 that one moment of enjoyment with a cigarette should be taxed higher than a box of instant macaroni and cheese, or Captain Crunch, or Hamburger Helper. My ..... aren't those healthy alternatives?

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