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SPOTLIGHT
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Helping Kansans

Published on -6/29/2012, 10:10 AM

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Most polls suggest the majority of Americans are against "Obamacare." Most polls also suggest the majority of Americans favor the changes brought about by President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

The law, which was passed in 2010, allows young Americans to stay on their parents' insurance policies until they're 26. The law gives discounts to Medicare recipients for high prescription drug costs. The law prevents insurance companies from canceling customers because they're sick, denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or charging higher premiums because they actually use the insurance. The law also will add 32 million uninsured Americans to coverage, which greatly will reduce the number of people using emergency rooms for their primary care.

All of these provisions are long overdue, and will help jump-start the process of reducing overall soaring health care costs.

Still, most people say they don't like Obamacare. We would suggest this is semantical, propagated by the Republican Party which has been against the reform since the beginning. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, it is time to reconcile the disconnect.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback isn't ready to throw in the towel. The state's chief executive said Thursday he is willing to wait until the November elections to see if Republican Mitt Romney is elected president and the GOP can gain veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. If that happens, the governor believes Obamacare will be repealed.

One of the funny things about Obamacare is it was modeled after the successful Romneycare implemented in Massachusetts while the presumptive GOP nominee was governor. Today, Romney says he will fight to undo the national Affordable Care Act. He says it is a bad law.

To that we say: Too bad. It is the law. As mere candidate, Romney has the privilege of not wanting to support it. As governor of the state of Kansas, we don't believe Brownback has that luxury.

Kansas has about 350,000 residents who don't have health insurance coverage, or 12.7 percent of the state's population, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. About 53,000 are children. These people cannot be ignored any longer, particularly since it is the law of the land. How can Brownback look these people in the eye and tell them their quality of life pales in comparison to his political gamesmanship?

The Affordable Care Act mandates states to have insurance exchanges in place by Jan. 1, 2014, in order for lower-income and middle-class families to obtain subsidies to help pay premiums for their newfound insurance coverage. Plans for that exchange must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services by Nov. 16. States that do not comply with the law will have their exchanges run by the federal government, with no input from the state.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger understands this reality. She believes the state has an obligation to fulfill its mandate under the law. Even though the governor returned $31.5 million to the federal government to help establish Kansas' exchange, the Republican insurance commissioner believes Topeka should be in charge of running a program for Kansans.

Apparently, Gov. Brownback does not share the sentiment.

"I want to see what happens in the fall," Brownback said Thursday.

The governor has to realize as he plays politics, he concurrently is playing with people's lives. Brownback's indifference for struggling Kansans is unacceptable.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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