Editorial: Another chance

An extended deadline gives Kansas officials another chance to help design a health insurance marketplace for state residents.

December 5, 2012


Sometimes when a game goes into extra innings, it gives a major player an additional at-bat and an opportunity to swing for the fences. Sometimes that player emerges as the hero who carries the day. Such an opportunity is lining up for Gov. Sam Brownback.

The federal government has extended the deadline for states to form partnership arrangements to operate the health insurance exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare, if you will.

So far, the governor has pointedly avoided getting Kansas involved in any way with the exchanges, but now, with the November election results, they’re a fact of life that cannot be ignored.

Kansas has one last chance to have some impact on how the ACA-mandated exchange is operated in Kansas and for Kansans. Feb. 15, 2013, is the new deadline. If the governor and the Legislature give their approval, the state could move forward to become a Federally Facilitated Exchange and have influence on two of five core functions of the exchange that would be implemented for Kansans. Those functions are consumer assistance and plan management, functions that the Kansas Insurance Department already handles.

One clear benefit for the health insurance companies that operate in our state is that they would have a one-stop shop at the state insurance department for plan approval and state licensing, instead of having to deal with a cumbersome two-step arrangement with the feds at Health and Human Services, in addition to the state. A second benefit would be that the state would be responsible for training and overseeing the “navigators” who guide citizens through the operations and choices involved in the process.

Why, after all, wouldn’t the state want as much control as possible, instead of ceding everything to HHS?

Consider a likely danger if a majority of states shrug their shoulders and leave the exchange operations to the federal government: How much easier that makes it to impose “one-size-fits-all” health care implementation practices and policies on the entire nation. As a practical matter, the nation’s 30 states with Republican governors, like Kansas, should do all they can to seize as much control of their own destinies as possible in this matter.

One speaker at a meeting sponsored by the Kansas Health Institute on Tuesday in Topeka suggested that, instead of rejecting federal money, Republican governors should challenge the president on his Medicaid plan by insisting on “block grant” funding so they could privatize their Medicaid services. But that’s another topic.

Concerning the ACA exchange, it makes good sense for Kansas to keep as much control as possible for its businesses and residents. Here’s hoping the governor and the legislature slam a home run in their next at-bat.


cowboy 5 years, 4 months ago

In light of Savior Sam's recent activities we are much better off with a fed program.

gccs14r 5 years, 4 months ago

Let the Feds run it. Our Legislature couldn't run a lemonade stand.

kippcolorado 5 years, 4 months ago

The less the Brownback crowd gets its hands on the better for the people of Kansas. That said, in Colorado our legislature will this session consider establishing the Colorado Health Care Cooperative, a single-payer non-profit entity permitted by ObamaCare, which would provide all basic health services for all Colorado residents.This is how many states that realize this is the 21st century are governing and taking care of their residents. Kansas is an embarrassment. Has been ever since Roy Williams moved. Smart guy.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 4 months ago

Roy moved to North Carolina which voted for Romney not Obama this time around. I don't think the politics coming out of North Carolina are anything more enlightened than Brownbackistan.

Centerville 5 years, 4 months ago

You should note that any modifications, extensions, exclusions that a participating state wants will have to be reviewed and approved or disapproved at the fed (not the state) level. I assume that the process is identical to the establishment of the rationing board, in that there is a specific prohibition against appealing the fed's decision. This was a $30 million enticement to make our Insurance Commission a greeter at the front door of the federal health care cattle chute.

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