The Kansas House has passed and sent to the Senate a bill that would allow Kansas to join several other states in an effort to take control of health care programs away from the federal government.
The main sponsor of the legislation in the House is Republican Brett Hildabrand.
“Many of our constituents are looking for any way possible to get out from under the Affordable Care Act, and this is one method for doing that," Hildabrand says.
Compact states would ask Congress to send them a block grant equal to all of the federal health care money they would normally receive. The states would use that funding—nearly 8 billion dollars in Kansas—to administer all health care programs however they see fit. Democrat Valdenia Winn says it’s little more than political gamesmanship.
“It was irresponsible to vote for an idea with a lack of design, and just go on the faith of the proponents," Winn says.
Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger has expressed concern that the health care compact could jeopardize Medicare benefits for more than 400-thousand Kansans. Republican Travis Couture-Lovelady insists the opposite is true.
“The health care compact allows Kansas to create a system that fits the needs of Kansans, and would provide greater accountability and flexibility as we craft that system," Praeger says.
But Democrat Jim Ward worries that with free rein to control health care, lawmakers might privatize Medicare, the same way they privatized Medicaid to create the KanCare program.
“Medicare has worked well for 50 years. No one is complaining about Medicare, and to throw them into this chaotic system like KanCare is not a good idea," Ward says.
The compact can only take effect with approval of both houses of the U.S. Congress. It would not require the President’s signature.