Archive for Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Health care advocates blast Kansas attorney general for latest Obamacare lawsuit

In this file photo from Feb. 2, 2016, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt answers questions at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

In this file photo from Feb. 2, 2016, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt answers questions at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

February 27, 2018


— Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined another multistate lawsuit seeking to declare a major portion of the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, but his action is drawing the ire of health care advocates who say it's part of a partisan effort to dismantle the law.

The suit, filed in federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas, challenges the so-called individual mandate in Obamacare, which says nearly all individuals must carry a minimum level of health coverage or pay a penalty.

Soon after the law was enacted in 2010, Schmidt joined in another multistate suit seeking to have that same mandate declared unconstitutional. Plaintiffs in that case argued that it exceeded Congress' powers under the Commerce Clause, which gives the federal government authority to regulate interstate commerce.

But in a 5-4 ruling in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected that argument, saying the penalty was permissible under Congress' taxing authority. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote in that decision by joining the court's four more liberal justices.

However, as part of the sweeping federal tax changes passed in December, Congress repealed that penalty. Now, 20 state attorneys general, including 18 Republicans and two Democrats, are going back to federal court seeking once again to have the individual mandate declared unconstitutional.

“In 2012, the Supreme Court left the Obamacare mandate hanging by the thinnest of legal threads,” Schmidt said in a news release Tuesday. “We think Congress snipped that thread in the tax reform bill.”

Gov. Jeff Colyer said he supports the lawsuit as well.

“The legal and policy failures of Obamacare are well known, and I am pleased that Kansas is joining this new effort to expose them,” Colyer said in the same news release.

In Kansas, more than 132,000 people were able to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace during the 2017 open enrollment period, with 72 percent of those qualifying for financial assistance to pay those premiums, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Another 9,173 people who applied for insurance through the marketplace were determined to be eligible for Medicaid or the state Children's Health Insurance Program.

Sheldon Weisgrau, interim director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, which advocates for expanding Medicaid under another provision of the Affordable Care Act, said he was disappointed by the lawsuit, arguing that the people trying to chip away at the federal law haven't offered any other plan to take its place.

"It's hard for me to believe they're serious about addressing problems in the health care system," he said in a phone interview.

Sean Gatewood, a lobbyist for the KanCare Advocates Network, another group that supports expanding Medicaid, called the lawsuit a waste of time and money.

"I just don't understand the point," he said in a phone interview. "The individual mandate basically went away because there is no penalty."

The lawsuit also drew the attention of national advocates, including Protect Our Care, a group based in Washington, D.C., that has been fighting attempts in Congress to repeal Obamacare.

“This vengeful lawsuit is yet another partisan attack on health care that threatens Kansans’ care," Brad Woodhouse, that group's campaign director, said in a news release. "But Kansans are saying loud and clear: Enough is enough. It’s time for President Trump and Derek Schmidt to move on from their war on our health care.”

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Mark Anderson 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Derek prefers bake sales for the truly sick.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

During the Reagan/Bush period the conservatives began their over throw of the GOP which included merging quietly the state agendas with the national agenda.... a covert action which remains in place today. All part of the American Legislative Exchange Council Agenda sponsored by Koch dollars.

Old school GOP need to stop voting GOP.

Koch Dollars own the GOP name and call the shots.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

ALEC is the source of Trump lunatic ideas......

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Voters should know by now after 70 years politicians have never provided health insurance for the people. Too many on both sides of the aisle take money from the insurance industry and from health care providers. In addition to Wall Street investments.

WE voters need the last word aka WE voters need a ballot even a special election if necessary.

Voters = democrats,moderate republicans, Green Party thinkers and sensible voters in general = Washington DC needs a big push to put choice on the ballot and lock it in for a lifetime.

To be fair to all in America there is only one way to satisfy the demand for ethical medical insurance coverage. That is by way of leaving the choice to consumers.

In fact a package of choices consisting of three choices is a most exciting package.

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The estimated $3.4 trillion in existing tax dollars that is being inefficiently spent on health care would most likely cover a significant part the cost of Single Payer after all of the savings come into play which are indeed significant.

Why not put choices on the 2018 ballot? And show veterans and business a little more respect in the process.

LET THE VOTERS DECIDE ON THE 2018 BALLOT NATION WIDE = voting on the entire package thus providing consumers 3 options for the rest of their lives.

Which one works best for YOU?

=== ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry for those who fear the word Medicare or phrase Single Payer after all it is their dollar. This needs stiff federal regulations that cannot be superceded by the states. Offer a fair tax dollar rebate at the end of every year. Sooner or later this group will enroll in single payer.

=== Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage for those who wish to enroll. The absolute best choice on planet earth.

=== Self financed health care for those able to do so aka opt out. Offer a fair tax dollar rebate at the end of every year.

=== ALL Disabled vets should receive Medicare with a 100% benefit so they and their families can receive medical care immediately upon discharge. Make it retroactive.

=== Business should not be forced to provide health insurance.

Bob Forer 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Derek is a follower of Republican Jesus.

heal the ill only if they can pay for it. Let the others die.

Bob Summers 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Why so Liberals "blast" the AG? Let's see....

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