Archive for Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Measure advances that could put Kansas Legislature in charge of federal health care programs

April 1, 2014


— Kansas legislators could be in charge of Medicare and other federally funded health care programs in the state under legislation approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Supporters of House Bill 2553 said the Legislature was in a better position to know the health care needs of Kansans.

"I think we are headed in a direction here where I think the state of Kansas can do a better job," said state Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee.

But opponents of the bill said the Legislature had no business trying to administer federal health care programs, such as Medicare, which they said is running fine.

"I know how this Legislature operates," said state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City. He said he wouldn't want to subject senior citizens to the "shenanigans" of the Legislature. Nearly 450,000 Kansans receive health care under Medicare.

George Lippencott, a senior citizen from Lawrence, spoke against the bill, saying he knows what to expect from Medicare and turning it over to a state-run operation "raises all kinds of uncertainties on seniors and others."

The bill would allow Kansas to join other states in an interstate compact. The federal government would turn over federal health care dollars to the states and the individual states could opt to run those programs. If a compact is put together, it would have to be approved in the U.S. House and Senate, but wouldn't need the signature of the president.

State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, said the compact would allow Kansas to reject the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

"It would be beneficial to our citizens," Pilcher-Cook said. "It would give them back the freedom they have lost through Obamacare."

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, state Reps. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, and Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, and Daniel Tripp of Competitive Governance Action also supported the bill.

Opponents included AARP-Kansas, the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition, Kansas Advocates for Better Care and Judy Bellome, an Army veteran, who said the proposal could hurt veterans receiving Medicare.

David Wilson, an advocacy volunteer for AARP Kansas, described the health care compact bill as "frivolous and dangerous."

The bill has already been approved by the House and now heads to the full Senate for consideration. In the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee only Republicans voted for the bill.

Eight states have passed similar legislation including Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Two governors have vetoed health care compacts in Montana and Arizona.


Phillip Chappuie 4 years, 1 month ago

Pilcher-Cook said. "It would give them back the freedom they have lost through Obamacare."

Just what freedom did any medicare recipient lose due to the ACA? Mary Pilcher-Cook is a bigger threat to the freedoms of Kansans. She has pretty much shown that repeatedly this session with her grandstanding showboat nonsense. The legislature knows nothing of healthcare and has zero business in this. I can only assume it is another ploy to graft favors to big supporters of the teapublican right wing fanatics mentioned in the article. They have screwed up Medicaid beyond recognition with KantCare. Please leave Medicare alone.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

"Kansas legislators could be in charge of Medicare and other federally funded health care programs in the state under legislation approved by a Senate committee on Tuesday."

This is not a management team this is a bunch of reckless spenders and misinformation sources.

What a terrible terrible concept. Bye Bye Kansas tax dollars. Hello right wing fraud team.

MerriAnnie Smith 4 years, 1 month ago

I just read this to my husband. He said, we may have to move out of this state. He's 76 and I'm 71. The last thing we need is Brownback and this Tea Party legislature cutting our Medicare - which WE PAY for every month.

If they are allowed to go up on Medicare when Social Security does not go up, it will destroy many of our financially insecure citizens.

Right now, if Social Security does not go up, Medicare premiums can't go up. That feature is one thing I can think of that the Tea Party might want to destroy. They may also plan to cut payments to doctors and hospitals and cut the number of conditions that Medicare will cover.

You can bet they do not want to take over Medicare to increase how it helps seniors. Let's all have a big laugh here at the very thought!

No, my friends, they want to turn it over to For Profit corporations. Those corporations will not get more than Medicare is paying out now in this state. Where do you think their PROFIT will come from if not out of the pockets of the seniors who pay for their Medicare?

Suck in your breath, stiffen your spine, and remember this mantra: Over my dead body.

It may be over the dead bodies of a lot of seniors if we get no voice in it.

But we have a voice this November. We MUST tell every voting senior we know about this. We MUST not forget it and go on about our daily lives. This MUST stop.

Please. I beg everyone of you to think about seniors and vote these low-class people out of our legislature in November. Get rid of Brownback while you're at it. Get moderate Republicans or moderate Democrats in office. It is imperative.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 1 month ago

David Stockman - "GOP guiding nation towards financial ruin"

"In 1982, 1983, and 1984, Reagan signed a series of tax hikes (PDF) that, according to David Stockman, recovered 40 percent of the original 1981 tax cut. Meanwhile, unemployment fell from nearly 11 percent in 1982 to 7.4 percent by Election Day 1984, and inflation slowed."

Years later, Stockman says, George W. Bush and his crew repeated "in much greater magnitude the errors we made in the early '80s. A massive increase in defense spending, a massive reduction in the revenue base [via long-term tax cuts], and not even an effort at spending cuts. Then the economy finally collapsed as a result of the credit crisis."

So what's an old-school Republican to do? Stockman, who worked as an investment banker after leaving the Reagan administration (and was indicted in 2007 for securities fraud in a case federal prosecutors later dropped), is willing to live by the basic laws of math.

He opposed extending the Bush tax cuts for middle- and high-income Americans, and now he has a simple three-part prescription: First, cut military spending by $100 to $150 billion a year. Stockman considers both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars foolish.

His second point is classic deficit-hawkery: Apply a means test to Medicare and Social Security.

His third: "Massively raise taxes." His favorite device: a Tobin tax, named after Nobel Prize-winning economist James Tobin, which would be levied on financial transactions.

"There's no productive value for Main Street or the real US economy." Such a tax could generate $100 billion annually (PDF). Stockman also fancies a version of Europe's value-added tax on consumption. "High taxes aren't good," he says. "But at the end of the day, you have to pay your bills as a government."

Stockman has not suddenly turned into a Democrat: He didn't support Obama's stimulus (because he didn't think it addressed the fundamental problems of the economy), and he remains a small-government conservative who would slash all sorts of federal programs if he could. But he has no patience with today's Republicans. On MSNBC's Countdown, he called the GOP "the free-lunch party of tax cuts."

Stockman counters that Republicans' taxes bad/tax cuts good mantra is disingenuous. "I don't think those kinds of propositions are appropriate, and you could call them a lie if you really wanted to use rhetoric," he says. "They can't say government is too big if they're saying hands off defense. It's not responsible to say government is the problem when you've embraced 95 percent of the dollars.

"It's very dismaying," he adds, "to see that 30-year descent into the kind of nihilism, know-nothingism that is represented by the Republican Party today." It's not the Gipper's GOP anymore. David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief.

Mary Nall 4 years, 1 month ago

"...Daniel Tripp of Competitive Governance Action also supported the bill." CGA is an anti-tax group with dark money ties, led by Leo Linbeck III, heir to a Texas construction magnate...more of the same dark money crap that's polluting our system of governance.

Greg Cooper 4 years, 1 month ago

""I think we are headed in a direction here where I think the state of Kansas can do a better job," said state Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, chairman of the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee."

And in other news, recent reports indicate Kansas has lost population, businesses are not flocking to the state (regardless of the lack of taxes levied on the owners), individual incomes are down. Don't believe it? Google is a great tool and usually will tell the truth if you look hard enough. And that's the good news.

The bad news is that, unless the Democrats and everyone else concerned about the direction of our state, vote en masse there will be this kind of future for us, our kids, and our state as a whole. If we want to be like texas, South Carolina, et al, then, by all means support Brownback and his cabal.

Otherwise, vote, talk to everyone about voting, and give the state back to the owners, the people of the state, and take it away from its captors, the neo Republican party and the big (and getting bigger while everyone else is losing) money.

4 years, 1 month ago

I can only speak for myself but I have Sunflower Plan on KanCare and it is working very well for me. I kept my doctor after the changeover and get referrals and can get all my prescriptions filled with a very low co-pay.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.