Archive for Monday, October 8, 2012

Politics threaten moderate Praeger

October 8, 2012


— An acrimonious debate over the federal health care overhaul is seeping into state capitols, creating fissures among Republicans as the tea party movement reasserts its influence in GOP-controlled areas.

The debate may even keep Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger from pursuing another elected term.

States face decisions about setting up online health insurance marketplaces, and a mid-November deadline for declaring their intentions has sparked conflicts between governors and legislators across the country. In two GOP strongholds, Kansas and Mississippi, elected insurance commissioners are at odds with governors, even though they’re all Republicans.

Praeger, of Lawrence, well-regarded by fellow state regulators after a decade in office, is a rarity among Republicans nationally, praising the 2010 federal health care law for moving the U.S. toward universal access to health coverage. She’s kept that stance even as conservatives used discontent with the law to help oust GOP moderates from the Legislature in August primaries.

Praeger wants the state to have a role in running the online insurance marketplace, known as an exchange, and she said she’ll have a plan ready. Gov. Sam Brownback, a longtime critic of the health care law, plans to wait until after the presidential election to set the state’s course and is under pressure from fellow conservatives and tea party activists to avoid any state involvement.

The disagreement with Brownback has political consequences for Praeger, the most prominent of a dwindling number of GOP moderates in state government. Now in the middle of a four-year term, she disclosed in a recent interview that she’s all but decided against running again in 2014 and acknowledged she’d have difficulty winning a Republican primary.

“My position is really more apolitical, just trying to be a good insurance regulator,” she said. “His is more of a political position, and I understand that.”

Brownback’s office declined requests from The Associated Press for an interview. It pointed to previous statements that if GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney defeats Democratic President Barack Obama, who championed the health care overhaul, states are likely to get a waiver from many of the federal health care law’s requirements.

“We’re operating in a seat of uncertainty,” said state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a conservative Shawnee Republican who argues any involvement in an exchange would make Kansas a “tool of the federal government.”

Exchanges are sometimes described as the health coverage equivalent of websites such as Travelocity. States that aren’t setting up their own still can declare by Nov. 16 that they’d like to be partners with the federal government, handling consumer complaints and controlling which companies sell coverage.

State by state

Praeger has sent Brownback a recommendation for minimum requirements for policies sold on the exchange, despite his stance.

She’s also been a part of the national debate, serving as chairwoman of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners committee on health care policy since 2009. She was the group’s president in 2008.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 16 states have set up online marketplaces, and three more plan to partner with the federal government.

Seven states have declared that they won’t set up exchanges, the foundation says. Six, including Florida and Texas, have Republican governors. In the seventh, New Hampshire, a GOP-dominated legislature set the policy.

In Michigan, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder pushed to set up a state exchange but met resistance from GOP legislators who feared it would hurt them in elections this year. In Missouri, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon halted work on an exchange amid growing opposition in his state’s GOP-controlled legislature, and the state’s voters will consider a ballot initiative in November preventing the governor from moving forward on his own.

With insurance commissioners appointed in all but 11 states, they’ve typically followed their governors. Even in states with elected regulators, the commissioners are from the same political party as the chief executive.

But after Mississippi’s statewide elections in 2011, the governorship changed from term-limited Haley Barbour to Phil Bryant. Both are Republicans, but Barbour had pushed to set up a state exchange, while Bryant wants to wait until after the presidential election.

Tea party influence

Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has been sharply criticized by the tea party movement for working on a state exchange. He, in turn, said the tea party members were using “untested legal theories, untested loopholes and fuzzy logic” to try to dissuade him from the work.

The tea party also is a key influence in Kansas, where pressure from the right last year prompted Brownback to reject $31.5 million in federal funds to help build the computer infrastructure necessary for an exchange.

“I’m looking for the state of Kansas to stand up to the federal government and say, ‘You’ve crossed the line and you need to back off,’” said Bob Bowser, an activist from Salina. “We don’t want Kansas to adopt any part of Obamacare.”

In Kansas, the tea party movement’s rise and frustration with the health care overhaul boosted Brownback into office in 2010 and gave the GOP its first sweep of all statewide and congressional offices on the ballot since 1964.

In primaries this year, conservatives suggested that GOP moderates who controlled the state Senate were soft in their opposition to the health care law. Eight moderate Republican senators lost, all but guaranteeing full conservative control of the Legislature next year.

“The people of Kansas have spoken clearly on this issue in two elections,” said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag.


overthemoon 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd vote for Praeger for Governor any time! She's always been rock steady and persistent in truly helping Kansans with Health Insurance issues. She does her job for the people, not for corporate overlords.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Yes. This. I don't care which party affiliation someone has. I care that they do the best for Kansans.

overthemoon 5 years, 6 months ago

And by the way, this isn't about 'tea party' influence. Its ALEC. The tea party is just the uninformed foot soldiers for the ALEC agenda. Check out Bill Moyer's show from Sunday to learn more.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Jonas is serving up a piping hot plate of red herring today.

lunacydetector 5 years, 6 months ago

praeger is a 'republican in name only,' not a moderate.

Charlie Bannister 5 years, 6 months ago

Glad to hear we will most likely oust another "moderate." Good. I want them all out of the GOP. Let them go be members of the National Socialist Democrat Party that their inner self so longs to be. Fight OBummer Care to the bitter end! Little known to most of you is another case coming up to the Supreme Court that deals with OBummer Care. Maybe this time they will get it right. Hope springs eternal!

somebodynew 5 years, 6 months ago

"Hope springs eternal!"

So does lunacy. But then. that is evident by what has become of what used to be the Republican Party.

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

Sandy Praeger for Governor 2014

"Dump The Chump"

Tim Quest 5 years, 6 months ago

By refusing to set up a state exchange, you cede control of healthcare to the federal government. Way to go, conservatives! I think future editions of Brewer's phrase dictionary will use this as the first example under the phrase "cutting off one's nose to spite one's face."

Bill Lee 5 years, 6 months ago

I got to know Sandy when she was a Lawrence city comissioner, and have admired her ever since then. When she is on the ballot, she gets my vote. It's the only one I ever cast for a Republican.

rtwngr 5 years, 6 months ago

That's because she's a republican in name only. Most of her values and opinions are in keeping with the Democrat Party and not the Republican Party. She's a liberal not a moderate. Good riddance, Sandy baby!

kernal 5 years, 6 months ago

Careful what you wish for Conservatives. Some times dreams turn into nightmares.

cowboy 5 years, 6 months ago

Rather ironic or pathetic that Savior Sam had an epiphany when facing melanoma years ago. He decided that if he beat it he would work only for "Gods" interests thus this ignorance crusade / quest he is on. The truth be told , he was saved by the best health care money can buy courtesy of the US taxpayers. Savior Sam while in the Senate with the best health insurance on earth , that you and I pay for , received treatment and rather than chalk it up to advancement of medical science , praised God for saving him. Now full circle , Savior Sam wants to deny others the right of coverage , let them fall where they may , ER , no treatment , half assed care , while he owes his very life to Government Health Care. If I am correct he still gets this health care coverage for life as a Senate benefit and also collects or will collect his senate pension.

What a sorry excuse for a human being you are Sam.

Charlie Bannister 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey "somebody new." The only ongoing lunacy right now is the continued rule of the King and Queen OBummer. "Let them eat carrots and broccoli" says Queen Michelle. "Meanwhile the King and I will dine at taxpayer expense on $100 per pound beef from Japan, and vacation to all points of the globe on taxpayer expense, and run our flying machine that costs $80,000 per hour to operate. WEEEEEEEE! What fun this is!" 16 trillion and counting folks.Over 6 trillion of it added by the King himself. The total economic collapse will happen if they get in again. I am just going to sit back when this place turns into Greece and say I told you so and tried to warn you. What fools you are here in this otherwise pleasant little community.

5 years, 6 months ago

"Politician's job threatened by upcoming election"

Saddest story I've read all day.

texburgh 5 years, 6 months ago

“'The people of Kansas have spoken clearly on this issue in two elections,' said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag."

Sherriene Jones-Sontag; wife of Derek Sontag, Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity founded and funded by the Koch brothers, funders of the anti-health care campaigns against moderate Republicans.

The people have not spoken; the Kochs have spoken and conned the people through an onslaught of lying slick mail pieces (see this article and the other on what Democrats will face this month).

This state is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries and the great things we have long enjoyed - good schools, roads, care for our seniors and disabled, public safety - have begun the long slow death due to atrophy that the Kochs hope for.

question4u 5 years, 6 months ago

"SageonPage is all wrong..again."

That has been a fact of nature, as constant as gravity. Hate is as solid as concrete, and people who reject education don't tend to grow.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Also, of course, some of the people who aren't keen on the ACA think it doesn't go far enough, which is a rather different criticism than those on the right have of it.

James Nelson 5 years, 6 months ago

And where do you get your information? Mitch O'Connell? The same Mitch O'Connell that told the first republican caucus after Obama was elected that it didn't make any difference if any of Obama's ideas were good or not, they had to be voted against. Now there is a real American, huh? I wish I had the chance to kick his ass. The country does not need leaders like him and the dumb ass tea partiers. They are insane.

Terry Sexton 5 years, 6 months ago

Sage professes to hold Christian morals yet can't resist any chance to start with name calling & the hating. Kosmos513 offers nothing but more hatred.

We need more Sandy Praegers & less self-righteous extremists like Sam & company.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

Actually, your vein-popping displays of pure, immature partisanship lie somewhere between entertaining and frightening.

nativeson 5 years, 6 months ago

This debate demonstrates why we will not continue to have talented people like Sandy Praeger in statewide elected office. The position should be apolitical, and it has become a battleground for arguments about ideology versus serving the people of Kansas effectively.

She nor Governor Brownback have influence over the decisions in Washington. Regardless of the result in November, the ACA will not be reversed without 60 senators who are willing to vote for repeal. There is no scenario that anticipates this type of result.

The federal mandate will happen whether conservative states like it or not. Doesn't it make sense to be prepared for the sake of Kansans? Good government makes pragmatic decisions best for their consituents regardless of the political environment.

optimist 5 years, 6 months ago

The fact is that the way the bill was written gives tremendous latitude to the Secretary of HHS. This includes how the funding is apportioned and the program is enforced. The secretary has the authority to grant waivers for just about anything it seems. Because the entire law hasn't been written yet and much of it is administered via policy rather than actual law much of it can be changed by the next secretary. Also don't forget that this law was passed with only 59 votes in the Senate because it was passed through the reconciliation process. That being said any changes will be addressed the same way and therefore a simple majority in the Senate can vote to change or eliminate much if not all of the law. Finally implementation of the law will continue to cost a tremendous amount. If the House refuses to fund it, as they are not beholden to the actions of a prior Congress, the law will become an unfunded mandate on the States. As a consequence the states will refuse implementation at their expense especially given all of the other changes. The law will in effect be dead. It's a little messy but when a law is passed in the manner that this one was it is to be expected.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 6 months ago

So, if the Sec. of HHS has such power to mold this program, why wouldn't a Sec. appointed by a President Romney be able to implement this program in ways that you would like?

optimist 5 years, 6 months ago

Impossible. I believe the whole premise of this law is an affront to individual freedom, liberty and responsibility. I would rather go without healthcare insurance than to be a party to this travesty.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

Without compromise, the Kansas Republican party will wither ~ they've a big surprise coming over the next few years. Their loyalty oaths, purity tests and goose-stepping have purged many moderates (now called "socialists", even though they arent) and will assure a lily-white party that is merely the mouthpiece of the Teabaggers.

And they'll look from one end of their "big tent" to another, trying to find where on earth did the bulk of their party go? With only a couple old religious freaks and conspiracy theorists left, where will you find your voter base? Don't come to me begging for my vote until you've purged ~ or distanced yourselves as a party ~ from the radical right-wing nanny-staters.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

And the tactic of labeling any contrary viewpoints as "socialist" by "moochers" or what have you isn't really the best recruiting technique. In fact, putting SOP in every town square in the state and encouraging him to express his true perspectives ~ not only those he's brave enough to share here ~ would quite likely serve to be the best recruiting technique the Democrats have employed ever. But as a business owner and taxpayer who isn't harping for free stuff and whose Republican background goes back decades, I guess I'm just a socialist in sheep's clothing.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

Just like Dole, Goldwater, Buckley and at times, Reagan. Another stellar recruiting effort from the Teabaggers. Fail. You'll have to do better than that to try to get my vote back.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

Inability to distinguish middle ground from the extreme and the discouragement of free thinking has tainted the party. That, and the inability to compromise, has made today's Republicans a far different entity than 10-15 years ago. Kansas Republicans would be shocked to see how much more diversity within the party is present outside our state. For example, Republicans include some who favor marriage equality and who favor no government interference with reproductive freedom. But this knowledge detracts from the monolithic core beliefs of the Teabaggers who have highjacked the party, and is thus swept under the rug.

Until, wristy, you can tolerate the notion of "middle ground" or diversity of viewpoint in the party, your numbers will diminish. You will lose votes from many whose viewpoints aren't that different from you on many issues.

See where that gets you in years to come.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 6 months ago

Ancient history from the Christian in Name Only ~ or is it American In Name Only. Be prepared for a whole new playing field.

wastewatcher 5 years, 6 months ago

Praeger is anything but a M0derate, she is an EXTREME LIBERAL!!!!!! Simply look at her positions and voting record as a State Senator. Do not let her fool you by saying she is not political, her LIBERAL VIEWS are simply out of touch. Remember she was also best buddies with ULTRA LIBERAL SEBELIUS.

James Nelson 5 years, 6 months ago

The job of Insurance Commissioner requires taking care of the insurance buying public, both individual and commercial. Everyone in the state is covered by some kind(s) of insurance. For this job, when you really think about it, you want a bleeding heart liberal. They will do the best job, everytime, when it comes to protecting insurance buying consumers. I would certainly want someone like that protecting me than some corporate yes man who thinks the job revolves around protecting the industry from its customers. There have been commisioners like that. And there are today.

If republicans were honest they would agree that most provisions of the ACA are good for the country. They like to say that a high percentage of Americans are against ACA but when you ask those opposed what they are opposed to in the act they don't really know. When you ask them if it isn't a good idea to do away with allowing pre-existing conditions to keep one from obtaining coverage they will say "yes" everytime. When you ask them if it isn't a good idea to require insurance companies to pay out more of each premium dollar on claim payments they will say "yes" again. It is obvious they placed too much confidence in their party leaders, who have taken their stance based strictly upon the timeworn political notion of not wanting the other side to score any points, ever. Hell, this time around the drug companies and insurance companies actually support the legislation and republicans still fight it. Why? Because it wasn't their idea, pure and simple.

verity 5 years, 6 months ago

Please, Ms Praeger, run for governor.

A voice of reason amongst the self-interest of the current administration and their handlers/puppetmasters.

James Nelson 5 years, 6 months ago

There will be many moderate republicans changing parties. Several have already announced support for democrats. I don't know where you got the idea Praeger could not be trusted if she ran as a democrat. What does changing parties have to do with trust? It may be true she would not pick up many tea party votes but I don't think they represent the majority in Kansas, anyway. If you believe, as I, that most independents are somewhere between democrats and republicans then they seem more like the disaffected moderate republicans who have been kicked out by the tea party/ Koch brothers/ Brownback group. It might be a horse race but I think the tea party would be outnumbered. Praeger could beat Sam Brownback and help kick out the greedy, selfish interests who have hi-jacked the state and trampled upon the Constitutions of both the U.S. and Kansas.

And please give the lady a break. Not only did she win a statewide race twice to become Insurance Commissioner but, because of her leadership abilities, was elected as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners by her nationwide commissioner peers and has also chaired the all important standing Committee on Health Insurance for several years in a row. And you say she is just a good follower?

Trumbull 5 years, 6 months ago

“My position is really more apolitical, just trying to be a good insurance regulator"

Man, what a great notion. Praeger has my vote or strong consideration at-least if she runs. She may have stumbled onto the whole problem. Politicians not concerned with doing a good job, what is good for the country.

JackMcKee 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd vote for Sandy For Gov in a heartbeat.

wastewatcher 5 years, 6 months ago

And you would vote for a LOSER and a LIBERAL LOSER at that.

headdoctor 5 years, 6 months ago

So, if you are Democrat you are Liberal and a Socialist. If you are Republican wanting similar things or things that are good examples of Socialism you are a Conservative but not Socialist. Got it.

We have Democrats who want some Socialist programs paid for by the Government. We have Republicans who want Socialist programs for their own or for who they choose but they want everyone else to pay for it. Guess I don't have it figured out.

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