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Archive for Monday, September 19, 2011

Statehouse Live: Brownback health policies questioned before committee

September 19, 2011, 1:16 p.m. Updated September 19, 2011, 4:07 p.m.

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— Gov. Sam Brownback’s health care policies came under fire from members of his own party on Monday.

State Sen. Roger Reitz, R-Manhattan, said he wasn’t impressed with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer’s presentation on ways to reduce Medicaid expenses.

And state Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, said he didn’t understand Brownback’s decision to return a $31.5 million federal grant to build a health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA.

Several Republicans, however, rallied to Colyer’s support as he stood before the House-Senate Health Policy Oversight Committee for nearly two hours talking about two major health care issues facing Kansas: increasing costs of Medicaid, and changes to the insurance landscape that will come under the ACA.

Colyer said the state must get control of Medicaid costs, which he said have increased 400 percent in the past 20 years.

“The current costs are going to overwhelm Kansas,” he said.

Colyer did not reveal what the Brownback administration will recommended to the Legislature, but he said many states are heading toward a managed care system for Medicaid with coordinators assigned to take care of patients with the highest medical needs.

Reitz said if the state tries to cut Medicaid services, “We are going to have people marching on the Statehouse, tearing this place apart.” Colyer said he did not want to cut “people that need our care.”

As far as coordinators, Reitz, a physician, said that’s what doctors are paid to do. “I don’t think these are new ideas and they’re not saving any money,” Reitz said to Colyer.

Colyer also outlined the reasons Brownback rejected the $31.5 million grant, which the governor had earlier supported. The “early innovator” grant was to be used to implement a health insurance exchange, which would be a one-stop market for hundreds of thousands of Kansans to purchase coverage and receive subsidies if they qualified. It is required under the ACA to be in place by 2014.

Colyer said the Brownback administration would not implement the exchange until the U.S. Supreme Court had decided whether the ACA was constitutional. “Obamacare was not popular in the state of Kansas,” he said.

But Brungardt said rejecting the federal grant “seemed like a huge opportunity to take a pass on.” He said he didn’t understand the philosophy of refusing to deal with the ACA until case law was settled. “We’d have a banana republic here of gigantic proportions instead of the United States of America,” he said if states simply ignored federal laws.

Colyer said there were too many federal strings attached to the grant and too many regulations. He showed a book to the committee that he said contained 200 pages of proposed regulations for the exchange, including numerous requirements of employers.

And he said that under the exchange the federal government would determine whether treatments were inappropriate or too costly in end-of-life areas. “That troubles me greatly,” he said.

State Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, said she agreed with the steps the Brownback administraiton had taken.

“I believe that we are on the right track here,” she said.

But Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who has been the top state official monitoring federal health reform, said Colyer’s description of the exchange regulating costs and treatments for end-of-life matters was wrong.

As far as too many strings attached to the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Praeger, also a Republican, said just the opposite was true.

“Most of the time it has been ‘tell us what you want to do,’” Praeger said of the feds.

Praeger said she is continuing the planning process for the insurance exchange.

Comments

grimpeur 2 years, 11 months ago

Please.

Please.

Please.

Would someone please ask Colyer and Brownback:

What strings exactly are you referrring to? What regulations?

Hold these liars' feet to the fire.

Good on Praeger.

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thebigspoon 2 years, 11 months ago

Of course, Praeger, but now Reitz and Brungardt? Cracks in the "united front", perhaps? Maybe there are a lot more who, afraid of the reaction of their coonstituents, are saying nothing until the bandwagon begins to roll. And roll, it will. Kansas has had its fling with reactionism, and now things will start to straighten out. Not a full-on Democratic onslaught, I'm sure, but maybe a moderate turn-around that signals the end of this dictatorship. Go, guys and gals, we're counting on you to do the right thing.

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meggers 2 years, 11 months ago

"Colyer did not reveal what the Brownback administration will recommended to the Legislature, but he indicated many states are heading toward a managed care system for Medicaid with coordinators assigned to take care of patients with the highest medical needs."

Sounds like a Death Dictator to me.

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deec 2 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like the set up to hire another crony company from Florida or Texas to hand over millions of tax dollars under the guise of privatization. This will increase costs dramatically, as it has in Nebraska and Kansas with the privatization of foster care, but the money will be funneled to Brownie's corporate masters, so its all right.

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Bob Forer 2 years, 11 months ago

Very interesting. Sounds like Brownie may not be a shoo-in for re-election. Easiest way to beat him might be the republican primary, as it would take one heck of a strong Democratic candidate to make a dent in the general election. Problem with the Republican primary is that there is typically very low turnout, and the crazy right, whom dote over Brownie, are very well-organized and always make a good showing in the primary.

Many Sandy will run. I would change my affiliation from independent to Republican in a New York Minute, even though I generally despise both parties. I think Sandy would make a good governor, and politically speaking, there is very little difference between moderate republicans such as her and your garden variety Kansas democrat.

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BleedingheartofLawrence 2 years, 11 months ago

I agree. Moderate Republicans and Kansas Democrats have very much in common, like, uh, reasonableness. I think Praeger would be a good gov, too.

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verity 2 years, 11 months ago

I'll go you one better, I will hold my nose and change my registration from Democrat to Republican if Sandy Praeger runs against Brownback in the primary.

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jafs 2 years, 11 months ago

That's the best plan for Democrats and Independents, I'd say, if we want to defeat Brownback.

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ksjayhawk74 2 years, 11 months ago

"Colyer said... that under the exchange, the federal government would determine whether treatments were inappropriate or too costly in end-of-life areas. "That troubles me greatly," he said."

LIAR!!!

What he's talking about is what health insurance companies have been getting away with, unregulated for years.

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Mike Ford 2 years, 11 months ago

someone finally questioned the lunatics....good on them...

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vlpete 2 years, 11 months ago

Good grief, this was made about 65 years ago during joseph mccarthy's witch hunt for communists. reagan probably did this so he wouldn't be accused of being one like many people in Hollywood were during that time. The same fear is being propagandized today by mainstream media, who want you to believe their point of view, left or right. We HAVE socialized medicine TODAY, it is called Medicare/Medicaid.

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Katara 2 years, 11 months ago

"Colyer said there were too many federal strings attached to the grant and too many regulations. He showed a book to the committee that he said contained 200 pages of proposed regulations for the exchange, including numerous requirements of employers." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ He showed them a book that he said contained 200 pages of regulations but it doesn't sound like he allowed them to look for themselves as to what it contained.

He could have been waiving around a copy of "My Pet Goat" for all they know.

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btsflk 2 years, 11 months ago

Sandy Praeger for Governor!

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hedshrinker 2 years, 11 months ago

Managed care didn't work well with garden variety health insurance, just added another expensive bureaucratic layer with mounds of paperwork for practitioners to file and non-clinical people making decisions about services that should be determined by clinician and client. It added significantly to the cost and certainly deteriorated clinician and customer satisfaction. Don't know why legislators think it will be different with the Medicaid system. Glad to see brave Republicans breaking ranks with the idiocy of Brownback.. S. Praeger certainly wouldn't be the first insurance commissioner to run for Gov!

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