Topeka — The Republican team, that if elected would be in charge of health policy in Kansas, said they will fight to repeal and replace the new federal health reform law.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback called the reforms successfully pushed by President Barack Obama “an abomination.”
Lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Colyer, a doctor from Overland Park who would lead health policy in a Brownback administration, said Kansans would suffer under the federal plan.
And Derek Schmidt, the Republican candidate for attorney general, said he would fight the reforms in court, calling the landmark legislation “an unprecedented federal power grab.”
Brownback, a U.S. senator, and Colyer, a state senator, face Democrat Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, and the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Kelly Kultala, a state senator from Kansas City, Kan.
Brownback and Colyer called a news conference at their campaign headquarters to feature Schmidt, a state senator from Independence, who is trying to unseat Attorney General Steve Six, a Democrat.
Schmidt said if he is elected he would either join legal efforts by 21 other states against the federal health care law, or find an alternate legal theory for Kansas to challenge the measure.
Six has declined to join other states in litigating the issue. He has said there is little chance a lawsuit claiming the health care act is unconstitutional will be successful. He has also said because other states have filed a lawsuit, any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court would apply equally to Kansas.
Six’s campaign spokesman Gavin Young said Six based his decision on law and not politics. Meanwhile, Six has won record amounts for the state in Medicaid fraud and abuse cases.
“These are the results Kansans get from an independent attorney general, and Steve is opposed to attempts to turn the attorney general into little more than a member of the governor’s cabinet,” he said.
Brownback said the difference in positions between Schmidt and Six is important.
He said that his administration would fight the reforms and that he was confident that if Republicans take over Congress they will de-fund regulations to implement it.
“One of the best things we could do to grow the economy right now is repeal and replace Obamacare,” Brownback said.
Holland, the Democratic candidate, criticized Brownback’s position.
“Once again, Senator Brownback is saying he wants to drastically change something that impacts hundreds of thousands of Kansans, but he won’t say how. We need a leader who does more than sit on the sidelines and watch the sick get sicker and the rich get richer.”
Brownback, Colyer and Schmidt said they would work with the Legislature “to continue the state's health care reform efforts that includes encouraging small-business health plans and health savings accounts as well as reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the state's Medicaid program.”
While the Republicans roundly criticized the health-reform law, an independent study released earlier this year said many Kansans will benefit under the new law. The study projected that 200,000 Kansans who don't have health insurance now, will get it under the law.
With many of the major portions of the law taking effect in 2014, those getting insurance will do so through expansion of Medicaid, more large employee group policies and the new subsidized exchange markets, the report stated.
Total health care spending in Kansas, including state and federal government, employers and individuals, totals $13.418 billion per year. After the reforms take place, that total is expected to grow by about $150 million, or 1.1 percent, the report said.
The report notes that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which were originally designed as “safety-net” programs, will become the largest source of coverage.
Federal spending is expected to increase by more than $800 million per year to take care of the new Medicaid enrollees, the report said.
Meanwhile, state government spending is expected to remain flat; large employers will spend slightly more while small employers will spend much less.
The report was funded by United Methodist Health Ministries and was done by independent actuarial schramm-raleigh Health Strategy, based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
But Colyer and Brownback said that studies released since that one dispute the earlier figures. According to them, Kansas will have to spend from between $160 million to $260 million more in Medicaid, which Brownback said will jeopardize funding for all other state priorities.