Topeka A bill aimed at taking Kansas out of the Affordable Care Act was advanced by the House on Friday, but opponents said the measure could jeopardize health care for the nearly half million Kansans under Medicare.
House Bill 2553 was approved on a voice vote and will be up for a final vote next week.
The measure would put Kansas into a compact with other states under which the Kansas Legislature and governor would control all federal health care funding coming to the state.
State Rep. Brett Hildabrand, R-Shawnee, said his bill provided a “pathway for Kansas and other member states to reject the Affordable Care Act.” It has the backing of the Kansas Chamber, and Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Eight other states have adopted similar measures, including Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Opponents said the measure was simply a show vote for conservatives to express opposition to the ACA. The compact could only launch if approved by the U.S. House and Senate.
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger said that under the proposal, if state revenues fall short, then the funds for Medicare could be used to support other state functions.
Hildabrand, however, disputed that assertion. He said federal health dollars could be shifted around to fund various health programs, but couldn’t be used in other areas, such as roads or schools.
State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, described the compact as “risky and untried,” and proposed an amendment to remove Medicare dollars from its control. Ward’s amendment failed on a 57-61 vote.
During debate on the bill, several Republicans said the measure would protect Medicare because the ACA took $700 billion from Medicare.
That statement has been repeated often by Republicans, including Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential campaign.
PolitiFact.com, a project of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper that fact checks statements made by politicians, said neither President Barack Obama nor the ACA cut a dollar amount from Medicare, but sought to bring down future health care costs in the program.
Also on Friday, the Obama administration released statistics that said Kansas senior citizens have saved $93.9 million on prescription drugs because of improved benefits under the law since it took effect four years ago.
“Kansas seniors are saving money on their needed medications and continuing to enjoy benefits that will lead to healthier lives and lower costs in the long run,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and a former Kansas governor.