Candidate questionnaire: Providing access to healthcare for all Kansans

Today the statehouse candidates share their thoughts on the second item in the questionnaire developed with input from our readers:

3.) Do you think the state has a responsibility to ensure that all residents have access to adequate health care? Do you support the state creating a health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act?

(If you need to lookup which district you’ll be voting for, check the Johnson County Election Office website).

Senate District 7

David Harvey (R)
All Kansans should have access to adequate medical insurance coverage. To accomplish this, we need more competition from insurance providers to reduce costs and portability so that the insured don’t lose their coverage when they change or lose jobs.

I do not support the Affordable Care Act because it does not allow the State of Kansas to increase competition or allow portability.

Kay Wolf (R)
I voted in opposition to the requirement that all Kansans participate in the Affordable Health Care Act. I do not believe that the federal government should be able to mandate that all citizens purchase insurance or suffer penalties for non-compliance. I am disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could require such insurance as part of the ability of government to ‘tax’ all citizens.

Under the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, Kansas must create a health care exchange. Unless the Act is repealed or amended, which I think unlikely, every state will be required to create health exchanges. There are only two options for Kansas. The first will be a Federal option and the second will be a Federal/State partnership. Every state is required to declare by November 16th or they will automatically fall under the Federal Health Exchange Option. The overall intent of the act is a noble one. However, other government controlled programs such as Social Security and Medicare are massively underfunded and in danger of being eliminated or substantially reduced for future generations. The federal government has been unable to manage Social Security and Medicare effectively; it is highly unlikely that the government will be able to effectively implement a healthcare program of this magnitude by January 1, 2014.

House District 19

Bruce Belanger (R)
I believe that individuals have the responsibility to provide health care to themselves and their loved ones, whether through and employer or as an out of pocket expense. For those individuals that need assistance, there is and should be a safety net. One of the primary challenges for governments is that the number of individuals in the net grows, as does the expenditure per person. The key is to define policies that help those that are truly in need.

I do not support the establishment of a state exchange under ACA, in large part because we do not fully understand the requirements and obligations of the bill due to its overwhelming scope and complexity. As it is now understood, insurance premiums will rise, which will take more money out of the pockets of Kansas. We, as Kansans, need the flexibility to be able to manage programs, offerings, and finances to fit within our chosen framework, rather than the one dictated by Washington. If we accept the terms of ACA in exchange for short term reimbursement, we may find ourselves in trouble in future years.

Stephanie Sawyer Clayton (R)
I think that it is best for the State to take charge and create a health care exchange on our terms, one that would work best for Kansas. I do not like the ‘one size fits none’ aspect of the ACA, but I think that this is best managed by Kansas taking swift action to deal with it. If we do nothing, we will have the Federal Government impose it’s version of the exchange on us, and we do not want that for Kansas.

House District 25

Megan England (D)
It is in the best interest of all Americans that each individual is provided the opportunity for affordable, quality medical care. Anything less not only lacks human compassion, but leads to the long-term financial devastation of those in both the lower and middle classes. The AffordableCare Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court and our elected leaders must follow the law – no matter their personal opinions about it.

Scott Gregory (D)
Yes, the State has the responsibility to ensure access to adequate health care. The Affordable Care Act provided the vehicle via the state exchanges, but Brownback’s ideology caused him to abort the efforts of the Insurance Commissioner who was trying to achieve a smooth implementation in setting up the exchange. Hewing to right-wing ideology while ignoring the welfare of the people is radical governing.

Stephen Foster (R)

Did not respond.

Melissa Rooker (R)
The Affordable Care Act was proposed by the Executive Branch, passed into law by the Legislative Branch, and ruled on by the Judicial Branch. We can either work with the law to ensure it meets the needs of Kansans, or we can fight it, spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do so, and have a federal, one-size-fits-none exchange forced on us. The exchange is intended to be a market-driven approach to bringing down the cost of healthcare. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger – a Republican serving her third term in that role – has described the exchanges as a sort of “Travelocity” for health insurance. Instead of continuing to foster fear, we should be working to make it as successful as possible for Kansans

Bill Griffith (R)
As a society I believe we are already providing health services to all residents. Anyone who doesn’t believe that should go spend 24 hours in the ER or the maternity waiting room at SM Medical Center. The rooms are filled with patients with no health insurance and no means to pay. We are already providing universal healthcare, we are just doing it in the most inefficient and costly manner possible.

I believe the governor has made a mistake when his administration applied for a grant from the Federal Government to be one of the first to construct a state healthcare exchange and then changed course and sent $31 million dollars back, ultimately costing Kansas taxpayers. The governor is gambling with the taxpayer’s money on a Republican victory in November and the repeal of most or all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I don’t believe in gambling with taxpayer’s money.

I do support the state creating a health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act? If you don’t create an exchange, the law provides for the Federal Government to create one for you. Given the opportunity to design a program that fits the needs of Kansans rather than let the Federal Government impose there plan, I vote for building our own.

Once again this is all about political posturing at the expense of taxpayers and citizens. Whatever you’re feeling about the Affordable Care Act, at this time, it is the law of the land and has been largely affirmed by the US Supreme Court. Kansas should be leading, and instead, we are lagging and potentially costing ourselves millions.

Tomorrow, we publish the answers to question four:

Over the past five years, Kansas has provided roughly half a billion in tax breaks and other incentives to lure business here or keep them from moving across the state line. Do you support the use of taxpayer revenues to engage in this “economic border war”?