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.


nonracist 2 years, 10 months ago

It just totally amazes me how th Kansans continually vote for those who oppose the voters own best interests. But that seems to be why Kansans continually elect Republicans. Just can't understand why ignorance is continually repeated. Must be in the DNA.


beatrice 2 years, 10 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?


Kirk Larson 2 years, 10 months ago

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


SunflowerHeart_MeadowlarkWings 2 years, 10 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.


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 10 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!


Mary Alexander 2 years, 10 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!!!


autie 2 years, 10 months ago

Based on this, I would respectfully request the federal government to return to me all portions of FICA that was medicare dollars that I have paid over the last 40 years. With interest. Because they collected illegally according to this law. After all, isn't medicare nothing but health insurance with a pre-paid premium? These goof balls won't have it right until health care is that single payer thing and the blood sucking insurance companies are cut completely and utterly out of the picture. I'm tired of our nation being 37th. We should be in the top ten like France or Sweden...


Ralph Reed 2 years, 10 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?


jayhawklawrence 2 years, 10 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.


Jim Phillips 2 years, 10 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.


orangechubb 2 years, 10 months ago

For the the government, state, federal, or any other to force me to buy any product is asinine.And please do not compare it to auto insurance, if I choose not to drive I do not have to buy it .Do not charge me to be alive.


DeaconBlue 2 years, 10 months ago

You mean people will be responsible for themselves? Blasphemy! I need someone else to take care of me!!


We_pay_why_cant_they 2 years, 10 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.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 10 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.


nonracist 2 years, 10 months ago

One question. Are Kansans really as ignorant as they appear to be? All sign's point to affirmative answer to question. After all, didn't they just overwhelmingly vote against their own interest by voting for GOP candidates?


moonflower 2 years, 10 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.


witchfindergeneral 2 years, 10 months ago

After this law passes, hopefully our conservative heroes in Topeka can get back to the crucially important issue of insuring that Kansans will continue to have "freedom" from reproductive choices.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 11 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.


rockchalk1977 2 years, 11 months ago

Questions for all of you Obamacare supporters.

Why have 3.1 million individuals in health plans already been exempted from the Obamacare requirements? And of these participants receiving waivers, more than half are in unions, raising questions of why such a disproportionate share of union members are receiving waivers from the law’s requirements? Also, why are 204 new Obamacare waivers the administration approved in April for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district?


none2 2 years, 11 months ago

I suppose it would be ok to resend the mandate as long as:

1) All medical providers refuse uninsured people who do not pay their bill at the time of service.

2) Remove the right for uninsured people to declare bankruptcy if any part of that request is based on unpaid medical bills.

3) Make uninsured people ineligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or any other government funded medical plan for any pre-existing conditions acquired  during the time they were uninsured.

BlackVelvet 2 years, 11 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.


muttonchops 2 years, 11 months ago

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


James Roper 2 years, 11 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.


Grump 2 years, 11 months ago

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


notanota 2 years, 11 months ago

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


Alceste 2 years, 11 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


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