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SPOTLIGHT
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Insuring Kansans

Published on -11/9/2012, 10:38 AM

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It certainly didn't take long for the sour grapes of President Barack Obama's re-election Tuesday to arrive in Kansas.

On Thursday, Gov. Sam Brownback decided the state would not participate in setting up the health insurance exchange required by law. Instead, the governor will give control to the federal government.

"Kansans feel Obamacare is an overreach by Washington and have rejected the state's participation in this federal program," Brownback said in a press release. "My administration will not partner with the federal government to create a state-federal partnership insurance exchange because we will not benefit from it and implementing it could costs Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars."

The exchange will be created nonetheless. It is required under the Affordable Care Act in order for consumers to compare private and public health insurance plans. The governor's refusal won't affect the law's implementation in the Sunflower State. It simply means he won't allow Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger or any of her staff to set it up or run it. Instead, a federal agency will be making the decisions that rightfully belong in Topeka.

The decision comes as no surprise. In August, Brownback rejected a $31.5 million federal grant Praeger helped secure to develop the exchange. The state's chief executive was hoping for Mitt Romney to capture the White House and attempt to repeal the derisively labeled Obamacare.

That didn't happen. The governor's decision smacks of spite and won't necessarily be helpful in the process of insuring the very people he governs.

We find that sad and lamentable. But certainly not suprising.

Brownback's bitterness is clouding his judgment. Praeger, an elected official in her own right and surely the most qualified state employee to oversee the exchange's implementation, has been shut down. Given the numer of department heads Brownback has appointed who have proved sadly lacking in their performance, he should have allowed this one to do what's best for Kansans.

That doesn't appear to be the governor's primary focus, however.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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