State official says Health Care Compact criticism politically motived
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger and others are participating in election-year scare tactics with warnings that a multi-state health care compact the governor signed into law this year could affect Kansas seniors’ Medicare benefits reported Bryan Thompson for Kansas Public Radio.
Sullivan headed the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services prior to accepting the position as budget director.
Praeger says a state takeover of Medicare could jeopardize the benefits of more than 450,000 Kansans. Her main concern centers around Section 4 of the compact, which reads, “Each Member State, within its State, may suspend by legislation the operation of all federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders regarding Health Care that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations adopted by the Member State pursuant to this Compact.”
A bill would need to be passed allowing control of Medicare in Kansas, but Praeger says lawmakers clearly have the authority to do so under the Health Care Compact.
Praeger says conservative Republicans led the legislative effort to join the Health Care Compact with one goal in mind.
“It’s all about undermining the Affordable Care Act. It’s very, very much politically-motivated. It’s about saying, ‘We’re not gonna participate in any of that health care reform. We’re gonna do it our own way in Kansas—including Medicare,” said Praeger.
Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says Praeger is right about the real target being the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“It upsets me that many are using this issue to their own advantage, and trying to scare seniors that receive Medicare benefits. The intent of the governor when he signed it was that this would not touch Medicare. This would not privatize Medicare,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan went on to say that he’s worked with seniors long enough to know there is no way they would allow Kansas legislators to privatize their Medicare program.
To become a reality, The Health Care Compact has to be approved by Congress, and then signed by the President. If that should happen, Kansas lawmakers might never use it to take control of the Medicare program. But there’s nothing in the law to stop them. In fact, the Texas billionaire who came up with the idea of the Health Care Compact said in a 2011 interview with “Mother Jones” magazine that finding a better way to deliver health care to senior citizens was his main motivation.
The rest of the story is available from Kansas Public Radio.