Archive for Friday, April 18, 2014

Casino, Medicaid among issues decided by Brownback

April 18, 2014

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— Gov. Sam Brownback has made it easier to get a casino in southeast Kansas and harder to get Medicaid coverage for thousands of low-income Kansans.

Brownback allowed legislation to become law without his signature that lowers the investment threshold for the right to manage a state-owned casino in southeast Kansas, his office reported Friday.

"While I have reservations about state ownership of casinos in general and the quality of regional economic development associated with casino gaming, many in southeast Kansas have expressed their desire for this change in KELA (the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act) through their elected representatives," Brownback said.

The bill decreases the required investment for a casino in either Cherokee or Crawford counties to $50 million instead of $225 million. It also cuts the fee prospective casino developers are required to pay to $5.5 million from $25 million.

Gambling supporters say the reductions are needed to lure developers to an area that has already seen casino development in nearby northeastern Oklahoma.

Concerning Medicaid, Brownback signed into law a bill that requires prompt payments to Medicaid providers by KanCare managed contractors.

The bill also requires that Medicaid cannot be expanded under the federal Affordable Care Act without the express approval of the Legislature.

Brownback and the Republican-dominated Legislature have consistently opposed Medicaid expansion and the ACA.

Health care advocates say expanding Medicaid would provide coverage to nearly 80,000 Kansans at no expense to the state for three years, and for a relatively low cost after that. Republican opponents say they do not trust the federal government to keep its promise to continue funding the expansion.

On Friday, Brownback's office said he signed 19 bills into law. Among those were measures that will:

— Allow for the possible sale of various several office buildings;

— Increase a more than 25-year-old, $250,000 cap on damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases to $350,000 over a period of eight years;

— Allow homemade beer to be provided to guests and judges at a contest so long as no compensation is provided.

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