Four Republican legislative leaders on Thursday said they want Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat, to challenge his party’s proposed health care reform.
The GOP legislators — Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, of Independence, who is running for attorney general; Senate Vice President John Vratil of Leawood; House Majority Leader Ray Merrick of Stilwell; and House Speaker Pro Tem Arlen Siegfried of Olathe — say the Democratic health care reform proposals include unconstitutional provisions.
“With luck and a little persuasion, perhaps a majority in Congress will come to its senses and conclude that our nation’s health care can be reformed without disregarding the Constitution,” the four legislators wrote in a letter to Six. “But if they don’t, then it will be up to you and to us to protect the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and to preserve the liberties of the Kansans we represent.”
They cited what is being called either the “Cornhusker Kickback” or the “Nebraska Compromise,” and a requirement that every person have health insurance coverage.
The Nebraska-related provision unfairly makes taxpayers in other states pay for Medicaid expansion in Nebraska, they said. Republicans say the provision was included in the Senate health reform bill to obtain the crucial vote of U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb. Nelson has defended the provision, saying other states could have access to such federal funds, but many critics say that is not the case. And the proposed mandate that everyone have coverage is an unconstitutional overreach by the federal government, Republicans argue.
Democrats in Congress have defended their reforms as ways to rein in health care costs, expand coverage to tens of millions of people who don’t have it, and enhance protections of insurance policyholders. They hope to merge differences in House and Senate health care bills to give President Barack Obama legislation to sign into law.
Six’s office said he is currently conducting a legal analysis of the health care reform measures. “If it is determined that issues exist, we will take appropriate action,” Six’s spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said.
But the four Kansas Republican leaders said Six should act now and join 13 Republican state attorneys general who have raised constitutional objections to the provisions.