Archive for Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kan. Senate may block health care ‘freedom’ measure

February 12, 2011


— Even some state senators who support a proposed “Health Care Freedom Amendment” to the Kansas Constitution said Friday that they doubt it can pass their chamber, although the House showed strong support for the measure protesting last year’s federal health care law.

The House adopted the proposed amendment on a 91-27 vote Friday, giving backers seven votes more than the two-thirds majority needed for a proposed constitutional change. Supporters also need a two-thirds majority in the Senate if they’re to get the measure on the ballot for voters to consider in November 2012.

The proposal would add a new section to the state constitution saying no law or rule shall force an individual or employer to buy health insurance — a challenge to the federal law’s requirement that most Americans purchase insurance, starting in 2014.

Republicans have been strong critics of the federal law, championed by Democratic President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, and the GOP has large majorities in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. But Republican state senators are more divided than their House counterparts about amending the state constitution.

Supporters of the measure face questions about how far it actually could go toward blocking the federal law in Kansas. And some Republicans who dislike the federal law prefer to wait on the outcome of lawsuits challenging it.

“My impression is that a majority of the people in the Senate would just as soon wait to see what happens in the judicial system, instead of us trying to gin up a constitutional amendment,” said Senate President Steve Morris, a Hugoton Republican.

Strong opposition among Republicans and the rise of the tea party movement have led states to look for ways to challenge the federal law. Last year, voters in Arizona, Oklahoma and neighboring Missouri approved constitutional changes similar to the one being considered in Kansas. Colorado voters rejected a proposal.

A debate Thursday in the Kansas House allowed GOP members to make now-familiar arguments that the law will hurt both consumers and businesses, while making the federal government far too intrusive.

Critics focused on doubts that amending the state constitution would have any practical effect.

The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce. Some House members said the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will decide whether that power allows the health insurance mandate, not state laws or amendments to state constitutions.

Kansas is among 26 states challenging the health care law in a federal lawsuit in Florida, where a judge struck down the law as unconstitutional last month. An appeal is expected.

“Why are we wasting taxpayer dollars and legislative time fighting something we’re already fighting through the court system?” said Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican.

The House considered a similar proposal last year, but supporters fell nine votes short of a two-thirds majority. All 125 House seats were on the ballot last year, and the GOP saw its majority grow to 92-33 with 33 new GOP members, many of them sympathetic to the tea party.

The Senate has six new members this year, but that’s because of members’ resignations to take other political offices or positions in new Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration. Only two Senate seats were on the ballot last year in special elections; all 40 won’t be up for election again until 2012.

Approval of a constitutional amendment requires 27 votes in the Senate.

“I would consider it evenly divided,” said Sen. Dick Kelsey, a Goddard Republican who supports the proposed constitutional amendment. “You essentially have the same makeup you had in the Senate before. We have replaced six people, but we haven’t changed the dynamics.”

Last year, a Senate version of the health “freedom” amendment failed to clear committee, and senators voted 21-19 against pulling it out for a debate by the entire chamber. Twelve of the GOP’s 31 senators — including Morris and Emler — voted against having the debate.

That split is a sharp contrast to Friday’s vote in the House, where only four of the 92 Republicans voted against the proposed amendment.

“Will we even get the opportunity to vote?” asked Sen. Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican who supports the measure. “Will it come forward where we can actually debate it?”


Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

The USA does not need the medical insurance industry aka the middleman profiteer. How are YOUR insurance dollars spent:

  1. High dollar CEO pay packages
  2. Golden parachutes
  3. shareholders
  4. corrupt campaign contributions

  5. this industry has 6 lobbyists per elected official = expensive mouth pieces

  6. maybe a corp jet = high dollar maintenace

  7. misinformation campaigns @ $1.4 million a day (

Let’s say millions cancel their insurance and begin paying out of pocket. Consumers would save tons of money. Cancel your medical insurance today. The industry is simply corrupt.

Healthy humans seldom spend what they pay out to the insurance industry! If millions dropped their policies not only would they save thousands of dollars annually the insurance industry would faint in disbelief that this many people actually are awake and give a damn.

Paying out of pocket will save thousands of dollars a year. Do medical insurance companies provide health care? NO! Invest smart instead of supporting high rollin executives and shareholders.

Set up a health care investment account or annuity in a credit union or with Consumer Reports. An account that makes YOU money instead of wealthy CEO's. Your health care annuity will NOT cancel out on when the poop hits fan.

AGAIN Healthy humans seldom spend what they pay out to the insurance industry!

Why support high rollin executives and shareholders because of your misfortune aka becoming ill or needing surgery?

Most consumers are under-insured = candidate for bankruptcy. Most coverage WILL NOT stick with consumers when the going gets tough = fraud.

What could be done with that high profit middle man money that which DOES NOT provide health care? First off set aside each month what medical insurance premiums cost in a money making account. Applying $5000 - $12,000 a year in a money making account will begin to make money. Some never use the money they pay out to insurance giants because of a $5000 deductible = it’s a scam.

Invest with small local banks or credit unions. Sierra Club and Consumer Reports offer annuity plans. The $4,000 - $12,000 a year going to insurance will grow substantially in an annuity plan. Keep a savings account for doctor visits and prescriptions and let the annuity grow in case more serious situations come up.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Is there an FBI investigation under way? A Grand Jury investigation underway? NO!

Congressional hearings sweep matters under those well known rugs,

Why you ask?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Health insurers have forced consumers to pay billions of dollars in medical bills that the insurers themselves should have paid, according to a report released yesterday by the staff of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The report was part of a multi-pronged assault on the credibility of private insurers by Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). It came at a time when Rockefeller, President Obama and others are seeking to offer a public alternative to private health plans as part of broad health-care reform legislation. Health insurers are doing everything they can to block the public option.

At a committee hearing yesterday, three health-care specialists testified that insurers go to great lengths to avoid responsibility for sick people, use deliberately incomprehensible documents to mislead consumers about their benefits, and sell "junk" policies that do not cover needed care. Rockefeller said he was exploring "why consumers get such a raw deal from their insurance companies."

The star witness at the hearing was a former public relations executive for major health insurers whose testimony boiled down to this: Don't trust the insurers.

"The industry and its backers are using fear tactics, as they did in 1994, to tar a transparent and accountable -- publicly accountable -- health-care option," said Wendell Potter, who until early last year was vice president for corporate communications at the big insurer Cigna.

Potter said he worries "that the industry's charm offensive, which is the most visible part of duplicitous and well-financed PR and lobbying campaigns, may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans."

Insurers make paperwork confusing because "they realize that people will just simply give up and not pursue it" if they think they have been shortchanged, Potter said.

More on this story:

Bring on the FBI and a Grand Jury!

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

Old news endlessly repeated does not equal new news.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 4 months ago

Do medical insurance providers deliver health care? NO why then are we giving them money. Human bodies demand health care... there isn't a choice.

Yes vehicles and homes need insurance. We CHOOSE to buy/own those items.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 4 months ago

"Do medical insurance providers deliver health care?" No, they provide insurance. Your question is like asking if auto insurance companies sell cars. Dumb rhetorical questions are dumb and irresponsible!!!!

livinginlawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

Rather, it seems you fail to grasp the message implicit in merrill's rhetoric.

It seems that the idea merrill is proposing is that the average American consumer of health insurance, out of fear of losing their health, pays more to their insurer (whom has been identified as the one NOT delivering the health care) than their general status of health would cost them were they to simply pay their doctor instead.

Though I cannot offer testimony on the complete accuracy of this notion, it would not surprise me one bit. Clearly, given the massive number of individuals in this wealthy country of ours who are without health insurance, there are plenty of folks out there who pay absolutely nothing to insurers. Unfortunate for said individuals is that, under current circumstances, they're completely screwed if/when something bad happens; without universal coverage nor price limits on procedures (which do exist in many other industrialized nations), the day a doctor saves your life may also be the day you're forced into bankruptcy.

In response to what I've just said, many will be quick to suggest that a system that doesn't offer obscene rewards to medical professionals will be suboptimal and offer less satisfactory services. However, such claims lack empirical evidence. Other countries, such as the UK and Japan, have the features I have mentioned, yet still outdo the US in measures of life expectancy and infant mortality (not to mention the services are available to all at a lower cost- people in the UK can go their whole life never having to pay a medical bill, while receiving health services rated by 90% of users as "good" or "excellent").

To gain some perspective on the matter, copy and paste this url into your browser. It's a fascinating documentary by PBS called "Sick Around the World."

Liberty275 7 years, 4 months ago

Hogwash. I was in the hospital overnight because of pain in my arms which the doctors believed might be heart problems. One day later I walked out after enduring many heart tests. The total bill was $15,000 for a days stay and tests. That is four times our primary's annual premium. Our cost was zero, as our annual $1000 OOPL limit had been passed.

To add insult to injury, AFLAC sent us a check for $400.

I received primo care from several doctors, stayed in a private room and made $400 for my trouble. Screw you guys that want to take that away and replace it with some government junk.

Getaroom 7 years, 4 months ago

Merrill makes so many good points here as usual.
Folks, forgive Snappy because there just is no "right side of the bed" from which to rise! Blog away Snappy that you might hear the sound of your own "voice". It is your favorite after all and the one that keeps deluding you. Maybe you will never get your snap back - not that you ever had it.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

The state legislature is wasting money it doesn't have creating this proposed KS constitutional amendment and putting it up for a vote. Such an amendment would not be valid, because it constitutes nullification of Federal law. So if it is passed, Kansas will have to spend huge quantities of money defending the amendment in court--and then ultimately repealing it, because it will be a) declared unconstitutional; and/or b) irrelevant, because the Federal law will already have been replaced. This amendment would not undo most provisions of the Federal health insurance reform. It would only challenge the provision requiring that those adults, who have the means to buy insurance for themselves but fail to do so, must pay a tax penalty instead. That provision was inserted into the Federal legislation as a "Pay-Go" device: it covers the cost of the free health care provided to the uninsured.
If this provision of the Federal health insurance reform is declared unconstitutional (through court cases now already pending), the Federal government has lots of other ways of dealing with the fiscal consequences. It can just add to the national debt (a method George W. Bush used extensively). Or it can restructure the provision to raise taxes overall, but give full tax credits to individuals who have health insurance, whether through their employer or purchased themselves. This would be analogous to giving tax credits for home mortgages (to encourage home ownership) or for charitable deductions (to encourage donations to non-profit organizations). Clearly constitutional. Even the KS Insurance Commissioner, Sandy Praeger (a Republican), thinks that the Federal health insurance reform has a lot of provisions that are good for Kansans.

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

how many times do you plan on repeating this untruth?

Peacemaker452 7 years, 4 months ago

Gudpoynt, You keep referring to the supremacy clause as proof that nullification is invalid but you keep ignoring the part that says “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof”. If a law is not “pursuant” the clause does not apply. Just because you don’t like a logical, factual argument does not mean it is “untruth”.

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

btw, did YOUR state pass a similar amendment?

wolfy 7 years, 4 months ago

Congress also could simply cut out the middleman and set up a single payer, Medicare for all system. This Supreme Court might strike down the individual mandate in the current healthcare law, but it will almost certainly sever that provision and leave the remaining provisions in place. Ironically, the individual mandate was inserted only to placate insurance agencies, which then opposed the bill through astroturf front groups. The insurance industry might be hoist by its own petard if the Supreme Court invalidates the individual mandate but leaves all of the consumer protection provisions in place.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

Wolfy: "Congress also could simply cut out the middleman and set up a single payer, Medicare for all system..." ==== BINGO! You win the prize. If both parties hadn't been under the spell of the insurance industrial complex, this would have been the best solution. If we are going to argue about who gets to live without insurance and take their chances, let them take 'em. Post a multi-million dollar bond; have it ready to go when you get hit by a truck and unfortunately survive or when you get cancer, then they can tap the fund. If you don't do this, or don't have insurance, 911 won't answer your call and the emergency room will leave you on the sidewalk while you enjoy your constitutional 'freedoms.' The rest of us are tired of paying for those without insurance.

gudpoynt 7 years, 4 months ago

And many rational people think your opinion is narrow minded and inconsequential.

You have to be pretty steadfast in your beliefs to be so adamantly and consistently disagreed with, and yet continue to refer to a misguided majority in your fringe, right-wing rantings. You should be proud Tom. Please, rant on. Eventually you should be able to convince everybody to the left of your far-right political views that you are indeed, the perfect, rational center.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

"Let me tell you, anyone taking money from Jim and Jane who are wealthier and healthier and giving it to Lester and Lulu who are poor, who are chain smokers, who are obese and couch potatoes, who have a dozen tatoos (sic) between them, who collect some form of welfare and don't want to make a decent living by choice----is not by any stretch a centrist." === Mr. Shewmon, I think you deserve a special award for this quote. Even by your lofty standards, you have outdone yourself, sir. Good job. You do, however, bring up one of my petty complaints. People should pay by the pound for their health insurance.

tolawdjk 7 years, 4 months ago

I knew Tom hated socialists, but who knew he loathed the smoking, fat tatooed?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

The question about how much we pay in premiums vs. how much we use for health care is a good one.

If large groups of people aren't paying more than they're using, then insurance companies can't stay in business, much less make a profit. Premiums have to cover health care costs, overhead/salaries/operating expenses/etc. for insurance companies, plus generate a profit on top of that.

How this works in individual cases will differ, of course - some will pay more and some less.

In my case, if you go back ten years or so, I think I've paid significantly more in premiums than my health care costs.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

He hates anybody who doesn't have a rich spouse to support them.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 4 months ago

jafs: "In my case, if you go back ten years or so, I think I've paid significantly more in premiums than my health care costs." === Another good point. I've been blessed too and have paid in much much more than I have 'gotten back' at this point. Insurance is shared risk, no matter what one insures. If I get smashed on the way home (not at the bar but by another driver), by the time I get out of the hospital in a few weeks, I'll have tapped maybe 10 times what I've paid in the past 40 years. There is no simple answer or we would have settled this when another president, Teddy Roosevelt, brought it up 'awhile back.'

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

" If I get smashed on the way home ... , by the time I get out of the hospital in a few weeks, I'll have tapped maybe 10 times what I've paid in the past 40 years."

And THAT is the problem, not finding a way to force other people to 'share' your risk. Why is it that you take it as a given, and apparently have no problem with, what it costs? Wouldn't it be better to address THAT issue rather than how we pay those outrageous costs?

sr80 7 years, 4 months ago

i think the democrats and few republicans in DC should be held in contempt of the constitution for the way they went about passing this healthcare fiasco ie.......closed door sessions,no time to read bill,the list goes on!!!!!

billbodiggens 7 years, 4 months ago

If you have the right to not have health insurance then you have the duty to die without causing increases in cost for everybody else. Don't call an ambulance. Don't bother to head for the emergency room. When it costs you $80,000 just to get through the emergency room and into a semi private room and you don't have it to spend, get up, walk out, and die someplace else. It may be your right to not have insurance, but it is not your right to have those who do to experience an increase in cost to pay for you. If you want the freedom, accept the responsibility and we will all be happy as clams.

notajayhawk 7 years, 4 months ago

Or [gasp!] you could do something absolutely unheard of and pay your own bills!!!

Why is that such an alien concept around here?

sr80 7 years, 4 months ago

where do you live diggens,i'll come die on your! no! just tell me when you put out your trash and i will climb in with the recyclables.don't want anything going to waste!! ain't that right ??Billbo

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