Topeka A state legislator who applied pressure on Gov. Sam Brownback to reject a $31.5 million federal grant because it was related to federal health reform is now taking aim at an even larger grant.
Rep. Charlotte O’Hara, R-Overland Park, said the recently announced $85 million contract between the state and Accenture to install a state-of-the-art computerized system for Medicaid and other services is also related to health reform. Ninety percent of the cost of the project is funded by the federal government.
“I’m really disappointed and my confidence in the Brownback Administration is in tatters,” O’Hara said in her most recent newsletter.
She said the Accenture contract means the state will build a platform that will comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
O’Hara said that goes against the wishes of a majority of Kansans and a recent Kansas Republican Party resolution that calls for an end to all efforts that would implement components of the ACA, thought by some to be President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation.
“I simply don’t understand why the Brownback administration would so blindly continue down this road when the good folks of Kansas and the State Committee men and women of the Republican Party have spoken so clearly on this issue,” she said.
Brownback officials maintain that the contract to build and implement the Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES, is unrelated to the ACA, specifically the development of a health insurance exchange. The exchange, as required by the ACA, will be a one-stop shop for people to buy health insurance and receive subsidies if they are eligible.
Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer stated that Kansas “will use a combination of state and federal funds to develop KEES to meet Kansas’ needs without the kind of strings that tied the early innovator grant to the implementation of federalized health care and the individual mandate.”
In August, Brownback, a Republican, rejected the $31.5 million “early innovator” grant despite having supported the grant earlier. Critics suggested he bowed to pressure within his party.
But O’Hara said the information technology of KEES will comply with that of the federal health reform. “Basically, it’s as though the administration was building a car, but refused to call it a car because they were only going to build the chassis, body, drive train, wheels, tires, etc. etc., but they were not going to install the engine, therefore it’s not a car,” she said.