Archive for Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brownback refuses to set ‘benchmark’ for health exchange

September 25, 2012


Topeka — Kansas’ insurance regulator is asking Gov. Sam Brownback to spell out the requirements for health coverage to be sold in a new online marketplace mandated by the federal health care overhaul, but Brownback still plans to make no decisions until after the presidential election.

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger made her recommendations public Tuesday, a day after she sent the conservative Republican governor a letter containing her proposals for the “benchmark plan” that companies must offer to participate in the online marketplace. The federal health care law says such marketplaces, known as exchanges, will start operating in 2014.

Praeger’s proposal calls for requiring companies to offer the same coverage Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas does in its comprehensive plan for small groups, along with additional coverage for children’s eye and dental care. The commissioner noted in her letter that if Brownback does not set the state’s requirements by the end of September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could do it for the state.

Brownback has strongly criticized the federal health care law, enacted in 2010 and championed by President Barack Obama. Praeger, a moderate Republican, has praised the law as an important step toward providing universal access to health insurance, and she and Brownback disagree over how aggressive the state should be in setting up an exchange.

“My administration will not make any decisions regarding the implementation of Obamacare until after the November elections,” Brownback said in a statement Tuesday, reiterating the stance he’s long held.

States have until Nov. 16 to declare whether they still want to be partners in running an exchange or leave it entirely to the federal government. Kansas hasn’t started to set one up because Brownback and Republicans who control the Legislature oppose the law. Brownback has argued that if Republican Mitt Romney defeats Obama, many requirements in the law are likely to be waived.

Praeger’s proposal for the exchange’s benchmark plan is designed to give consumers who use the online marketplace familiar coverage at competitive prices, said Linda Sheppard, the Insurance Department’s project manager for the health overhaul.

“That does help the market stay stable,” Sheppard said.

The federal government limited Kansas and other states to setting their benchmarks based upon 10 health plans already widely available to their consumers.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas provides coverage for about 900,000 Kansans, and Praeger is proposing that the exchange benchmark be tied to its most popular small group plan. At the end of March, more than 30,000 people were enrolled in it.


chootspa 5 years, 8 months ago

Why couldn't Praeger be our governor?

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

If she runs in the primaries against him next time, I hope she'll be nominated.

And, elected.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 8 months ago

Brownie is still confident Mittens will win and be able to do something about Obamacare so quickly? I'm going to laugh come November when they have to scramble to organize this stuff before the feds do it for us.

somebodynew 5 years, 8 months ago

ku - I would be with you except for one thing. I seriously doubt that BB, or his minions, will do any scrambling in November. The bottom line is he/they just don't care - this won't affect them or their rich buddies, so sc(())** the rest of us. Plus, it will be one more thing the Feds run and they can then gripe how poor a job is being done.

The citizens will be the ones hurt by this 'grandstanding'.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 8 months ago

The feds will end up doing this for us.Didn't BB already refuse the money given Kansas to set up the exchange?

chootspa 5 years, 8 months ago

He did. He initially accepted it, but his ALEC puppet masters told him to refuse it. He came back from the ALEC retreat and blew off a boatload of money and potential Kansas jobs in order to throw a tantrum.

Now he's getting ready to drag his feet about the exchange and refuse the expansion of services (90% paid for) by claiming we don't have the budet to care for our ill in this state. He'll let us all know in a Friday news dump. Mark my words.

question4u 5 years, 8 months ago

Instead of planning ahead, all of the great leaders in history have just ignored potential scenarios that they don't like. For example, there's.............well, there is no example.

The Brownback philosophy of leadership : If you don't like it, just ignore it and it will go away. If it doesn't, just make sure that you have your spin prepared ahead of time. That's all the planning that you need in Kansas.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 8 months ago

No matter who wins in November, watch for two things; 1. Brownback WILL ignore setting up an exchange entirely and the Feds will have to do it for us and 2. Brownback WILL refuse extended Medicaid coverage from the Feds. In fact, I'm seriously surprised he hasn't followed the example of his brethren in Texas and already done so. This isn't going to do anything but hurt the citizens of Kansas but, hey, what does he care?

chootspa 5 years, 8 months ago

Pre announcing decisions when people could offer feedback is not his style. He'll wait until it's too late to change the policy.

Phillbert 5 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, knowing what Brownback and his fellow Republican men think about health care, I feel much better with the feds setting the minimum level of coverage.

Centerville 5 years, 8 months ago

Yea, like we really want Kathleen Sibelius to make health care decisions or us. You might belong to the government but I don't.

Alyosha 5 years, 8 months ago

Your assertion / premise that Sibelius will make health care decisions for you is wholly unsupported hyperbole. Thus, you need not worry about Sibelius making healthcare decisions for you or anyone else, since it has nothing to do with the health exchanges (which are the topic of this news piece).

Of course, if you can show that the law specifically requires the SHH to make individual health care decisions for every American, including you yourself — but since it's not in any bill, I doubt you'll be able to demonstrate that.

Lastly, are you comfortable knowing that your health care decisions in fact, right now, are controlled (presuming you have health insurance) by clerks in a for-profit insurance company that puts their own profits ahead of your health in their decision making process?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.