Topeka — Democratic leaders in the Kansas Legislature said Friday that it’s time for Republican critics of federal health care reform to cool it.
“All the scare tactics and fear-mongering from the far right is going to prove to be much ado about nothing,” said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence.
Davis said Republican leaders also should denounce recent reports of vandalism and racial remarks made against supporters of the health bill approved earlier this week.
Nearly all Republicans representing Kansas on the state and federal levels have been vehement in their opposition to the bill.
“The law needs to be repealed as soon as possible and replaced with a plan that would actually lower health care costs for all families and prohibit cost controls that would interfere with treatment decisions between doctors and patients,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
But state Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley, of Topeka, said health care reform will eventually provide coverage for 300,000 Kansans who currently don’t have insurance.
“It’s time to embrace federal health care reform instead of opting out of it,” Hensley said.
Republicans have pushed hard in the Kansas Legislature to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot that would block federal health care requirements to purchase insurance.
After three votes in the House, the measure has failed to get the required two-thirds majority for a constitutional amendment. In the Senate, the proposal has been stuck in committee on tie votes.
Critics of the proposed amendment say the legality of federal health care legislation will depend on how the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the U.S. Constitution, regardless of what measures states place in theirs.
Numerous Republican officials, including U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, whose district includes west Lawrence, have called on Attorney General Steve Six to join a constitutional challenge to the new law.
“Specifically, the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects state sovereignty,” Jenkins said. “I am concerned by centralizing health care decision-making in Washington and removing that power from local entities, the federal government is exercising powers not granted to it through the U.S. Constitution.”
Six, a Democrat, has said he is reviewing the legislation.
Hensley and Davis said Kansas should focus on how to benefit from provisions in the new reforms.
And Hensley credited passage of the federal legislation, in part, to former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who left Kansas to serve in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet as secretary of health and human services. Hensley said that “the debate really turned” when Sebelius went on the offensive, talking about insurance industry abuses.