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Smith Center grad runs for insurance commissioner

6/27/2014

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Dennis Anderson, an Overland Park Democrat, is running for Kansas Insurance Commissioner.

He grew up on the family farm near Harlan in Smith County and graduated from Smith Center High School and Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural economics.

The family moved from Smith County to Overland Park in the 1970s. There, they started "a business training prospective insurance agents on the rules and regulations they have to follow in order to pass their licensing exam," Anderson said.

He made the decision to run for the office because it's an "opportunity for me to do something meaningful and help people."

If elected, Anderson plans to travel to each county seat to visit with citizens and insurance agents about their experience with insurance companies.

As insurance commissioner, his job would be "protecting Kansans and making sure their insurance is working for them."

Kansas is one of 11 states that elects an insurance commissioner to be answerable to the public.

The insurance commissioner has no direct voice in KanCare, but Anderson believes it would be wise to expand Medicaid in Kansas.

That would "bring federal dollars already paid back to Kansas, (and) provide care for a lot of people who are in need," Anderson said.

The health care compact recently approved by the state Legislature "should concern senior citizens in the state," he said.

Proponents argue it won't be enacted unless Congress approves.

If enacted, "basically it means that every senior citizen in the state of Kansas would give up their guaranteed benefits that they currently have with Medicare," Anderson said.

The money would be paid to the political leadership in Topeka who then would decide how to spend it, he said.

The Affordable Care Act is another issue on the health front.

It has some issues that need to be worked out, but is a continuation of decades-long health care discussion, Anderson said.

"Repeal isn't the answer. ... If you repeal it, the debate does not go away," he said.

Anderson is the only Democrat running for insurance commissioner in the Aug. 5 primary.

Republican candidates are Sen. Clark Shultz, Lindsborg; Beverly Gossage, Eudora; David Powell, El Dorado; Ken Selzer, Leawood; and John Toplikar, Olathe.

Incumbent Sandy Praeger, a Republican, isn't running for re-election.