In an effort to keep our readers better informed about the state government actions that impact our communities, we will again be featuring regular update columns during the 2014 session from northeast Johnson County’s elected officials: Rep. Barbara Bollier, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Emily Perry, Rep. Melissa Rooker and Sen. Kay Wolf. Rep Perry. submits this week’s update:
The Federal and State Affairs Committee met a couple of weeks ago to discuss HB 2553, pertaining to a multi-state Health Care Compact. The bill would allow Kansas to join a group of states that are attempting to opt out of the federal health care program, the Affordable Care Act.
HB 2553 would enact a Health Care Compact between Kansas and eight other states that would allow them to “suspend by legislation the operation of all federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders regarding health care.” The other states currently in the compact are Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana.
The committee heard testimony from both proponents and opponents of the bill. Proponents of the bill included Rep. Brett Hildabrand, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, and Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Opponents of the bill included Dave Cook, of the American Association of Retired Persons, and former Rep. Sean Gatewood, now with the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition.
Proponents of HB 2553 argued that it would allow citizens to get their freedom back regarding healthcare and reclaim authority as a response to the Affordable Care Act. Proponents also argued that healthcare is too complex of an issue for a cookie-cutter approach, and the system could be more flexible and personalized to the needs of citizens by giving the power back to the states.
Opponents said that at best, the bill was a frivolous waste of government resources, and at worse it would jeopardize the security of seniors and other citizens in need of health care. Other concerns brought forward included that HB 2553 would detract efforts from more practical health care measures, such as expanding Medicaid. Opponents also argued that Congress is unlikely to approve the bill, and without consent from Congress, the bill would become obsolete.
After the committee passed HB 2553 out of committee favorably, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger warned Kansas seniors that such legislation would place federal funding for all health care services and health plans under the control of the state legislature and the governor. Commissioner Praeger further warned, “Supporters of the bill may tell you it doesn’t affect Medicare, but that is just not true. It could jeopardize the coverage and benefits that seniors have come to count on. It would be a serious mistake to turn the Medicare program over to state control.”
The bill has yet to come before the full House of Representatives.
Once again, I am privileged to be your voice in the Kansas Capitol. If I can ever be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at 785-296-7669 or [email protected]. You can also follow the legislative session online at kslegislature.org