Archive for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kansas likely to enact health care ‘freedom’ law

May 24, 2011


Kansas was close Tuesday to joining other states in enacting a law designed to block a mandate in last year's federal health care overhaul requiring most Americans to buy health insurance.

A proposed "health care freedom" law was on Gov. Sam Brownback's desk. Legislators bundled the measure with other proposed changes in regulations for health care providers and approved the package in the last hours of their annual session. Brownback is expected to act on the legislation by Friday.

The "freedom" measure says residents have the right to refuse to buy health insurance and instead pay for health care services directly, adding that they can't be fined or forced to pay other penalties for refusing to buy health insurance. The federal mandate taking effect in 2014 includes tax penalties for most Americans if they don't buy insurance.

"Legislators are standing up for the liberty of Kansas citizens," said Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican. "They are the people's voice."

Measures aimed at blocking the federal health insurance mandate have been approved in more than a dozen states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Kansas bill's passage is a victory for conservative Republican lawmakers who aligned themselves with the tea party movement in criticizing the federal health overhaul as too intrusive. But tea party adherents had hoped for an even stronger statement, an amendment to the state constitution, and legislators bundled the law with 11 other pieces of legislation to ease its passage.

Some legislators had questioned whether a Kansas law would have any practical effect. They said the federal law — if upheld by the courts — would trump any state policy.

"The only way they were going to get it is if it was packaged with things other people wanted," said Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican. "There was something in there for everybody."

Brownback, who served 14 years in the U.S. Senate before becoming governor in January, has been a strong critic of the federal health care overhaul, and he supports the "freedom" measure. But spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor is carefully reviewing the other provisions in the bill before making a decision.

The bill's 74 pages also revised regulations for dentists, nurses, addiction counselors and emergency medical technicians. Emler said the regulations dealing with EMTs were especially important to rural officials, who feared that hundreds of technicians could lose their certification unless regulations passed last year were adjusted.

The legislation contained so many provisions that House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat who opposed the language challenging the federal health care overhaul, said he wasn't aware that he'd voted for it when he supported the package.

"There are people out there who want to just try to use this as political issue for the 2012 election rather than doing something serious about the health care dilemma we have," he said.

Kansas is among more than two dozen states challenging the health care overhaul in a lawsuit filed in Florida. A federal judge struck down the entire law; President Barack Obama's administration has appealed, and both sides expect the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately decide the issue.

Even some Republicans argue that if the high court upholds the federal law, then there's nothing a state can do to block it. If the court strikes the law down, they contend, a state law or constitutional provision was unnecessary.

"It was a superfluous piece of legislation that was designed to make people feel good," Emler said. "It doesn't do any harm. It just doesn't do any good."

But Pilcher-Cook said she believes passage of such laws bolsters states' case against the federal overhaul and demonstrates strong public opposition to it.

Nine other states have adopted similar laws, with Virginia as the first, according to NCSL. Arizona and Oklahoma voters amended their states' constitutions to add such provisions, and Utah passed a law that says federal health reforms can't be implemented in that state without the legislative involvement. Montana and Wyoming voters will consider ballot questions next year.

Pilcher-Cook said she'll press next year for legislators to adopt a proposed amendment to the state constitution with language similar to what's in the measure passed this year. The measure would go on the November 2012 ballot if two-thirds majorities in both chambers adopt it.

"That speaks with an even louder voice from the Kansas citizens," she said.

Proposed "health care freedom law" is section 7 of HB 2182.


Alceste 4 years, 6 months ago

GREAT! I KNOW that Brownback's GOD shall take care of all my health care needs. Afterall, death is just a series of treatable illnessess.

Well....maybe Brownback wants me to suffer in incurable pain shrug

notanota 4 years, 6 months ago

I look forward to the skyrocketing health costs this will cause if it actually does take effect.

Grump 4 years, 6 months ago

Another piece of legislation for the state to get sued over and lose.

James Roper 4 years, 6 months ago

I thought I was exercising my "freedom" when I voted for the guy who delivered some form of national health care. Maybe this new "freedom" will create all of those jobs Sam promised???

It would be nice if Sam Kochback focused on Kansans needs now, rather than this proto-electioneering for the presidency in the future.

muttonchops 4 years, 6 months ago

The federal government doesn't need to be dictating my health care strategies.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

So pay a small fine, and do what you want.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

Does your "strategy" include filing for bankruptcy protection if you can't pay the medical bills arising from a catastrophic illness or injury? I don't care how much money you may have put away for a "rainy day", even persons with health insurance often suffer drastic financial implications due to chronic diseases, sudden illnesses or injuries because of lifetime policy limits, co-pays, deductibles, prescription costs, etc. Even if you have an accident in your car (whether or not your fault), the personal injury coverage is limited-especially if you are involved in an accident with an under insured or uninsured driver.

If uninsured people just paid their bills in lieu of procuring health insurance coverage, I probably wouldn't care whether they chose to buy health insurance coverage. Failing to have any coverage then showing up at the ER with little, if any concern as to whether or how to pay for the care is just irresponsible. I recognize that some folks are unemployed, their employers don't offer group coverage or they struggle to make ends meet as it is. The financial implications to others however, cannot be ignored. Those that can afford coverage and elect not to or choose to spend their money on other things just cause those with coverage to pay higher premiums to cover the losses the hospitals and providers aren't just going to just sit back and absorb.

Aren't you inherently opposed to "spreading the wealth"?

BlackVelvet 4 years, 6 months ago

No guns at the border. Move to a Obama-loving state if you want the government wiping your backside for you and want to give up the right to make choices.

mickeyrat 4 years, 6 months ago

And you be sure to feel free to move to another country if you don't like the United States... all of them.

Jock Navels 4 years, 6 months ago

i think it should go a step further. If you opt out of health insurance, then you should sign a waiver that you present to the medical personnel when you have a medical problem. then they charge you up front for the medical procedures you need. if you can't pay cash or credit card, they don't provide the service. you might die on the sidewalk. but if i do participate in the national health insurance program, i don't want my premium helping to cover the cost of those who don't participate. think about it...who will not buy health insurance...and why not?

jimmyjms 4 years, 6 months ago

Awesome strategy for posting: address a topic you don't understand by throwing out some blanket vitriol.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

Even if it's just at the border, was BV just advocating for gun control??? //sarcasm

moonflower 4 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Kendall Simmons 4 years, 6 months ago

Excuse me, but asking for your sources seems like a reasonable question since you made specific data claims.

This is a particularly valid request when it took no time at all to discover that your claim that 204 waivers in April were given to places in Nancy Pelosi's district was NOT ACCURATE. The correct figure is 38 of the 204.

By the way, what I have found on Google is that most waivers cover companies providing "mini-med" type insurance and the requirement that insurance plans sold to individuals and small employers must spend at least 80% of their premiums on health care, and plans sold to large employers must spend at least 85%.

According to the Wall Street Journal (9/30/10):

"Last week, a senior McDonald’s official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain’s INSURER [emphasis mine] won’t meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80% to 85% of its premium revenue on medical care.

"McDonald’s and trade groups say the percentage, called a medical loss ratio, is unrealistic for mini-med plans because of high administrative costs owing to frequent worker turnover, combined with relatively low spending on claims."

So the issue of waivers is actually based on health insurance company decisions, not on the companies who insure with them.

By the way, the waivers will all permanently expire in 2014. In the meantime, 3.1 million Americans will have health insurance through their employer rather than losing it as would otherwise happen without the waivers.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago


If I remember correctly, the "waivers" are also generally very minor, and merely adjust the percentages down a little bit, to about 75%.

Is that right?

If so, it's a classic case of somebody making a mountain out of a molehill.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

I don't know what you're trying to say.

The only information I've found on the internet about waivers is that in some cases the requirements for insurance companies regarding percentage of premiums spent on health care was changed slightly, from about 80-85% to 75% or so.

It's a very minor tweak to the system, and hardly reflects anything more than that, as far as I can tell.

Actually, if interstate commerce is in fact being "affected", then that would strengthen the argument that the ICC should apply.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

Do you have a source - I still don't understand what you're talking about?

If possible, a somewhat non-partisan source, rather than a right-wing opinion piece.

Bob_Keeshan 4 years, 6 months ago

I dunno, but you've answered a question I had -- Does anyone take Glenn Beck seriously?


honestone 4 years, 6 months ago

Yeah Chubby right after rockchalk gives the sources he cited.

none2 makes a lot of sense

jimmyjms 4 years, 6 months ago

Based on your response, you just made it up.

notanota 4 years, 6 months ago

Rockchalk neither made it up nor bothered to fact check.

notanota 4 years, 6 months ago

They have insurance. The waiver is on taxing the "cadillac" plan. A large number of them are in unions, because unions make sure their employees have decent insurance benefits. I'm guessing fancy eateries, hip nightclubs, and decadent hotels also value good employees and pay them accordingly. Apparently Nancy Pelosi has a district with nice jobs. Good on her. She had nothing to do with waiver applications, but if you get a chalkboard and write it up real pretty, I'm sure you can pretend she did.

Next up in this week's episode, I'll ask the pointed question why more people drown within a week of eating an ice cream cone, and I'll figure out a way to blame Soros.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 4 years, 6 months ago

Who elected these idiots that think Kansas can defy Federal Law? It is the law, and just because the numbskulls that you elected to the state legislature think they can make some political hay here, it will not happen.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

Allowing each state to interpret the constitution differently, and decide which laws are unconstitutional and which aren't seems like an unworkable plan to me.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

The problem is who decides when the federal government "fails".

Of course, the correct way to challenge the health care bill under our current system would be to get the SC to hear the case, and rule on the constitutionality of the law.

If you think they make the wrong decision, then what? I think they've made a bunch of wrong decisions, but I wouldn't trust the KS state government to make the "right" ones either.

Part of the problem is that there isn't a standard, consistent view of how the constitution should be interpreted and applied. There are disagreements about that.

I think that the CU case is an obviously wrong decision, on many levels, but others disagree, and think it's a very good decision.

Who's right?

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

I said it's not a clear and easy thing to determine what the correct way to apply/interpret the constitution is, so deciding when the SC etc. fail is not an easy, or clear thing.

Do you agree that the CU decision is an example of "failure" on the part of the SC? If not, why should I have the power to change it?

In my view, no system is perfect, all systems work only as well as the people involved in them, etc.

I am a reformer, and you are a revolutionary, as far as I can tell.

There are few things, either in the public or private sector, that I come across that couldn't be improved, and I'd like to see that happen.

I said I don't trust the states any more than I trust the federal government, or the justices. It's all just people - the smarter, more educated, more enlightened, more compassionate they are, the better their decisions are, and vice-versa.

But, even among very well educated, intelligent people, there are differences of opinion and viewpoint, as in CU.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

You're dodging the issue that it's not so clear when that is or is not happening, and depends on your point of view.

In our current system, the remedy is the SC.

In your version, it would an individual state of some sort.

Either way, whoever makes the decision is fallible, and may make decisions that you or I disagree with.

There is no protection on a systemic level from the fallibility of human beings, and we don't all agree on important issues like how to interpret the constitution.

Corporations are not people, and are not the entities that the bill of rights was written to protect, in my (and perhaps your) view, and yet a majority of the justices of the SC disagreed with that. That's a majority of trained, educated legal scholars. I think they're wrong, of course, and would argue the point, but it takes a certain arrogance I don't quite have to say that because I think that, I should have the right to overturn their decision.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

I do get the joke, and thanks for the respect.

It matters because you may think the system is failing us, and many others may disagree, and think it's working just fine, and doesn't need to be changed.

Yes, that is my main point - it's good that we're communicating clearly.

If the point of state nullification is to be able to nullify unconstitutional laws, and they nullify ones that are in fact constitutional, then that's more than they should be doing, even in your version, isn't it?

If you want it to take more than a slim majority to pass legislation, the normal route would be to encourage lawmakers to pass such a requirement.

In general, I like the idea of needing more than a majority, but of course, the fact that many people disagree with something doesn't make it wrong.

Not necessarily - I just fear that giving the state the power to decide what's constitutional and what's not has some serious problems. What if a state decides it's fine to remove basic protections in the form of Miranda warnings, etc.?

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

But doesn't de facto reducing federal power increase state power?

For example, the state nullifies the Miranda laws, claiming they're unconstitutional.

Since they have the power to decide that, they can override the SC decisions about it, right?

If somebody can just appeal to federal courts, and then the federal courts decide the matter, how is federal power reduced?

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

If states have the power to decide what's constitutional, then they could simply decide that the Miranda decision was invalid, no?

Something in your argument doesn't make sense to me.

What happens when there's a conflict between levels?

moonflower 4 years, 6 months ago

WoooooooHooo I feel free-er already, I've always relied on my freedom to make you pay for my ER visits. It's like my favorite right after freedom to not get vaccinations.

PalinPalms 4 years, 6 months ago

uhg. what''s afrimitive mean? u use tooo many big words

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

"Affirmative" in this context means "yes". It's a word the party of "No" doesn't like or use...

jimmyjms 4 years, 6 months ago

Actually, "bornagainamerican," everything from your screen name to your comment reinforces the original point in the affirmative.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

It'll be interesting to see these "freedom" measures play out.

The only reason the mandate is there is at the behest of the insurance companies. And the driving force behind the Republican campaign against these rather tepid "reforms" is their commitment to a healthcare system that's designed primarily to deliver profits, not healthcare. So, elimination of the mandate will work against the profits of one of their primary benefactors, the insurance companies.

If the Republicans don't gain enough power in the next election to completely undo "Obamacare," one of the first initiatives of republicans and "blue-dog" democrats will be the immediate repeal of all of these so-called "freedom" laws.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

The other reason for the mandate is to keep everyone's premiums down.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

To my knowledge, there is no requirement that insurance companies hold the level of premiums down as part of this mandate.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago

No, it's not required.

But, part of the idea is that by including young healthy people in the "risk pool", that premiums won't rise the way they would without those people in it.

Whether that will work or not, we'll see.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

Policies and rates are filed with and require approval from an insurance regulator. Premium rates have to have a correlation to an insurer's incurred or expected claim expenses. And the so called "free market" would have some impact on pricing through competition for market share.

jafs 4 years, 6 months ago


But if your risk pool is made of a bunch of folks with serious medical problems, then the rates will be higher, because of higher costs.

Adding the young healthy folks to the pool brings all of that down - at least, that's the idea.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

Thus, the required correlation between an insurer's incurred/expected claim expenses and premium rates.

We_pay_why_cant_they 4 years, 6 months ago

It is mystifying why they are still trying to hobble the Affordable Care Act, since it seems to be doing exactly what it is designed to do. Here is a link to Forbes Magazine, (Rick Ungar Policy Page) claiming:

"Recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system.
And they are precisely the uninsured that we want– the young people who tend not to get sick."

Lots of healthy people paying into the system to balance the costs of those needing medical attention. But that is not good enough? Things that make you go hmmmm.

SunflowerHeart_MeadowlarkWings 4 years, 6 months ago

Productivity is down when makers are paid time takers.

honestone 4 years, 6 months ago

your are right but...should we treat you if you don't have the money to pay? Even if it is a kid...your kid???

Kirk Larson 4 years, 6 months ago

Not if you or a child gets a catastrophic illness and you go bankrupt. The taxpayers and premium payers will end up paying for what you can't.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 6 months ago

You forget that insurance companies often come up with what ever reason to deny coverage. You may still be paying a good chunk out of pocket.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

I just wish we could encourage you to "get a clue"- purchased or otherwise.

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

And yes, you can be "forced" to buy auto insurance on your car if there is a lien on it-whether you drive it or not.

Darn bankers forcing us to protect their investments...

bad_dog 4 years, 6 months ago

"Take a lesson in manners."

From you?


Comedy gold, that is.

Jim Phillips 4 years, 6 months ago

Not only is it asinine, it is unconstitutional. Everytime I read anything about Obamacare on this forum, I am amazed at the number of people who apparently are on government handouts or want to be.

And I do hope Alceste doesn't get sick before getting free healthcare in two and a half years.

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

I have no problem with Brownback and his conservative base pushing this kind of political position as long as they would also agree to commit sepucu if they are wrong. In fact, if they agree to hang themselves that would be fine with me.

Ralph Reed 4 years, 6 months ago

The discussion above is pretty much moot as Brownstripe will sign the legislation. Have no fear of that. So, why debate the issue? I'm just amazed at the sheeple buying the snake oil he's selling.

From the article: "Pilcher-Cook said she'll press next year for legislators to adopt a proposed amendment to the state constitution with language similar to what's in the measure passed this year. The measure would go on the November 2012 ballot if two-thirds majorities in both chambers adopt it."

Once this woman starts playing with the Kansas Constitution or the US Constitution, then all bets are off. Neither document is any place for ideological cr*p like this. Big insurance is behind this and the Teabaggers are simply their mouthpiece. Unfortunately, they will make this a litmus test during the next election and the GnOP will bow down to them as they did during the last election.

Further, if she has her way, nothing will be accomplished during the next session as nothing was accomplished during this session, except for balancing the budget on the backs of education and those who can't care for themselves.

@noneto: Your May 24, 2011 at 5:31 p.m. was an interesting post. You do realize that it will never happen though, don't you?

Mary Alexander 4 years, 6 months ago

I feel that if you do not have health insurance you would have to pay up front for all care that includes Hospital visit. It makes me wonder how many would be turned away? Our tax money shouldn't go to those that wish not to have health insurance when it is available. Why should I pay for you I do what I need to do for myself and family to make sure they are taken care. Why don't you!!!

yourworstnightmare 4 years, 6 months ago

Freedom to be denied coverage.

Freedom to not have preventative care.

Freedom to use the emergency room and pass expenses on to others.

Let freedom ring!

SunflowerHeart_MeadowlarkWings 4 years, 6 months ago

If you don't want to participate in universal health care, good for you-for those people who "don't want government telling 'em what to do!" let the insurance companies do it. I suggest a system where we get to charge each person based on their personal health.

I am going to bet if you looked at the supporters vs non supporters you would find an exponential correlation between the rise in non supporters and BMI. Then maybe we could call the legislative bill "Fatties for Freedom." You wanna eat everything all the time, perfect you pay the high premiums. I don't want cover your costs.

Is it not fair? Do you want everybody to be treated the same? You don't wanna pay for the extra plane ticket? Too bad. You want government to stay out it.

Or maybe you are from the crop that only wants government to pass down legislation that mandates your religious values on everybody else, then it should be called "God's Insurance Plan-Creationism, Lone Right to Die"...Then again you would have to check your Christian morays because that's not really loving thy neighbor.

Kirk Larson 4 years, 6 months ago

Brownbackside wants to make sure we are free from health care.

beatrice 4 years, 6 months ago

Silly posturing by politicians. The current federal health care laws are working their way through the courts. If declared constitutional, federal law will trump the state law. If unconstitutional, then the states need not worry about it. Either way, this is a waste of time and a complete display of pandering to the party's base. Does the state of Kansas really have so much extra money that they can afford its legislature to be wasting its time like this instead of doing something to help the economy?

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