Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Statehouse Live: State Insurance Commissioner Praeger urges establishment of `essential health benefits’

September 5, 2012


— Health care officials on Wednesday discussed what should be included in insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Pam Shaw, a pediatrician and professor at the Kansas University Medical Center, testifies on Wednesday during a hearing held by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger on "essential health benefits" for insurance plans sold on the proposed exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Dr. Pam Shaw, a pediatrician and professor at the Kansas University Medical Center, testifies on Wednesday during a hearing held by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger on "essential health benefits" for insurance plans sold on the proposed exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

But as in most efforts related to federal health reform in Kansas, the proposal is in limbo.

"All of this really hinges on the election on Nov. 6," said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, one of the few Republicans in the country who has voiced support of the ACA.

President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law, and Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal it.

Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, voted against the ACA while a senator, and is a frequent critic of the legislation. Last year, he sent back a $31.5 million grant in federal funds to set up a health insurance exchange under the law.

Now an ACA deadline is approaching that requires health insurance plans offered on the exchange to include a comprehensive package of services, called essential health benefits. States need to decide what benefits will be included.

Praeger said she will submit recommendations to Brownback who must decide by Sept. 30, but the governor has said he wants to see who wins the presidential race before he takes any further action on ACA requirements.

But Praeger said not deciding on essential health benefits now could limit Kansas' options in the future, should the ACA remain in law.

She said if Kansas doesn't pick its plan, then the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will.

Dr. Pam Shaw, a pediatrician and professor at the Kansas University Medical Center, said pediatric care had to be included in insurance plans. Since children are developing, their health conditions "must be continuously monitored and reassessed," said Shaw, who was representing the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As a parent of an autistic child, Shaw said having that coverage under her state plan has been essential.

She was joined by other advocate groups, such as Kansas Action for Children.

But Eric Stafford, a lobbyist with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said he was concerned that too many mandates could increase the cost of insurance and cause some business owners to stop offering coverage to their employees. He said many businesses were already "at the tipping point."

Praeger said, "We want good coverage, but we want these products to be affordable. So, it's balancing the coverage versus the cost."

She said the overall goal is to reduce health care costs by providing the kind of services that can avoid more costly medical care later on.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church submitted testimony urging the state not to require coverage for contraceptive services.

The ACA requires employer-provided health insurance provide contraception coverage. Obama has established an exemption for religious employers, such as churches, but Michael Shuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said that exemption was too narrow. "As has been repeatedly observed, not even Jesus Christ would qualify for this so-called religious exemption, since it excludes those who serve people of another faith," he said.


Richard Payton 5 years, 5 months ago

What then is the Governor's plan if Obama wins? If Romney wins and repeals ACA then we know Governor Sam will be happy. In the event Obama wins, I sure hope that our state governor has at least decided another option for the state citizens.

Glenn Reed 5 years, 5 months ago

I don't think Mr. Brownback has a plan for that.

The republican party on the national stage has made it their primary goal to damage Obama's chances at reelection. They've bent over backwards and did monumentally stupid things to further that goal.

The sad fact is, it might actually work....

drake 5 years, 5 months ago

If Obama wins the election then health insurance will be the very least of our worries. I dare say that our country will not last another 4 years under his leadership. That is his mission in life.

Mike1949 5 years, 5 months ago

Drake, I respect your right to express your opinion. Funny (well not really), I say the same thing if the Republicans win.

KS 5 years, 5 months ago

Mike1949 - Drake is soooo right on. Obama did not want Obamacare to help the poor folks. He wants it so he can get the entire healthcare field unionized. The re-election of Obama is darn scary. The dems can't even get their platform right. They don't know if they want God in it or not? What a joke this party is.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

Praeger said, "We want good coverage, but we want these products to be affordable. So, it's balancing the coverage versus the cost."++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

How are the people who can't afford the insurance now be able to magically afford it? All they are doing is stirring the pot thinking there will be more soup in it.

The only way the ACA will become revenue neutral is through rationing. Quality Dr's will only take the patients that have the ability to pay. Mediocre Dr's will become specialists in what ever area pays the most and the marginal Dr's will get the ticks who don't want to or can't put into the system for what ever reason. No matter how you cut it, quality will go way down and the price will go way up. Who is going to fund the how ever many thousand IRS agents that will be hired to enforce compliance? Won't be the 50% who don't pay any federal income tax.

oldbaldguy 5 years, 5 months ago

single pay entity is the way to go. what we have now is medical insurance reform written by the medical insurance industry.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 5 months ago

My friend, single pay still means the 50% or so of us that actually pay federal income taxes will still get to pay for those who don't. I do not see medical as a right, although I do not see denying people from it. I don't know the answer, but until everyone has to put into the system to receive from it, there is no way it will work.

voevoda 5 years, 5 months ago

Maybe we should encourage Brownback to wait. That way, the US Department of Health and Human Services will set up the plan for the state of Kansas, and there is every reason to believe that it will be better than anything the Brownback administration and current State Legislature would approve. Kathleen Sibelius will see to it.

average 5 years, 5 months ago

Oddly, it's cheaper in every single one of the seventy-plus other other countries where government is more involved. Weird.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 5 months ago

cheaper? riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight! waighting list, or nonexistent (I.e. dental care in great britain) don't mean "cheaper to me.

a government that mandates your health insurance is too big.

a government that mandates what you get in it is too big too.

stop it and pull it out by the roots. it is antiamerican.

besides obamacare isn't insurance anymore, it is actually an entitlement called insurance.

and, we cannot have the government taxing you for not doing something. the four wise justices had it right. that does give government unlimited powers.

Orwell 5 years, 5 months ago

Amazing how the right wing extremists have to rely on endless repetition of imaginary threats and evidence-free claims about health care reform. I guess they have to have some rationalization for their bottom-line conclusion that your access to health care depends on your personal wealth.

Get back to us if and when something negative actually happens, guys. We'll talk about fixing it cooperatively – if you ever develop any interest in cooperation. Until then, I'll look forward to policy decisions that are made by people answerable to the public instead of the plutocrats.

Orwell 5 years, 5 months ago

I'd trust them far more than I'd trust a cubicle weasel at XYZ Insurance Co., who decides what procedures you get based on his manager's quota for the quarter.

headdoctor 5 years, 5 months ago

You are a piece, Sage. You want to badmouth people for wanting some form of health care yet you enjoy coverage paid for by the taxpayers and a backup system that most can't afford. Typical modern Republican thought. I got mine so screw you. Same attitude as the Congress members who have coverage regular citizens can't afford.

headdoctor 5 years, 5 months ago

Typical non answer avoiding the subject of my post. Oh well have it your way. I guess being a military man your all good with voting for a draft dodging, tax cheating, double talking swindler and a daddy's boy that never had to really work a day in his life?

Let me correct your post so everyone will know what you really said.

I want everyone else to work, save money, pay the way so I don't have to be concerned with getting a real job because I like the spoiled brat baby boomer philosophy of it is all about me. Don't take my communism remark serious because I don't understand communism any better than most of the stuff I post about.

See. I fixed it for you.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.