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SPOTLIGHT
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Health care numbers clarify the choice

Published on -2/20/2013, 10:52 AM

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Friday marked the last day for non-exempt committees to introduce bills. The House has deadlines for progress of bills to help ensure we end the session in the required 90 days. However, this year House leadership set an ambitious goal of getting our work done and ending the session in 80 days.

This is possible, but only with hard deadlines like the one Friday. Committees that are exempt, such as Tax and Appropriations, don't have the same time restrictions because their legislative areas typically take the most amount of time and are usually required to complete their work before the session can be adjourned.

You can stay up to date with committee schedules and bills and find other helpful information regarding the happenings in the statehouse through the Legislature's website, www.kslegislature.org. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions. I enjoy hearing from you on the topics we are discussing in Topeka, and I appreciate the perspective from those outside of the Statehouse.

* * *

On Friday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment released results of an independent analysis, done by Aon Hewitt, on the potential enrollment and budget impact of the Affordable Care Act's implementation to the state Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program.

The study estimated that if the state chooses not to expand Medicaid, the Medicaid/CHIP enrollment will increase by 20,563 in calendar year 2014, ramping up to 41,538 (23,740 for Medicaid and 17,798 for CHIP) by 2016, when the ACA is expected to be fully implemented. The anticipated 10-year (2014 to 2023) state general fund increase for no expansion will be $513 million.

If the state chooses to expand Medicaid, Medicaid/CHIP enrollment will increase by 111,880 in 2014, ramping up to 226,003 (25,416 from currently eligible Medicaid, 49,384 from currently eligible CHIP, and 151, 203 from those newly eligible for Medicaid in 2016, once the ACA is fully implemented. The anticipated 10-year SGF increase with expansion will be $1.1 billion.

Gov. Sam Brownback has not yet announced a decision on whether the state will expand Medicaid. Undoubtedly, an increase of $1.1 billion over 10 years to state expenditures is a very significant increase that would have an impact on the state's ability to fund its other core responsibilities, such as education. If the state expands Medicaid, the ACA does state the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost of the expansion for the first three years and then 90 percent after that. However, if the federal government, which is currently running trillion-dollar deficits, is not able to make good on its offer, then the impact on the state budget would be even greater.

* * *

Last week, the House took final votes on several bills, all of which were passed and now will be received by the Senate for consideration. Below are the bills with a brief description of each.

HB 2059: Last year, the Legislature passed a large tax reform bill. However, there were some technical changes required to make the bill more workable and fix errors in the original draft. On Feb. 11, the House passed HB 2059 by a vote of 122 to 2.

HB 2015: Regarding marriage, this bill would clarify the definition of gifts one spouse gives another with regard to creditors. If a gift is given legally and not to avoid creditors, it would not be subject to collections. On Feb. 12, the House passed HB 2015 by a vote of 116 to 8.

HB 2081: This bill would change the crimes that allow the state to seize property used in the commission of a crime to also include the crimes of sexual exploitation of a child. This would allow the state to seize the computer equipment used in the crime. On Feb. 12, the House passed HB 2081 by a vote of 124 to 0.

HB 2114: In cases when a debtor owes money to the state, the fees for the collection of the debt will now be paid for by the debtor. On Feb. 13, the House passed HB 2114 by a vote of 90 to 32.

HB 2065: The House took up a bill looking at the crime of home improvement fraud and classifying such fraud when above $1,000 as a felony. On Feb. 13, the House passed HB 2065 by a vote of 106 to 16.

HB 2011: Kansas universities are currently allowed to set up license plates with their school's logo on them. This bill would also would extend to motorcycle plates. On Feb. 14, the House passed HB 2011 by a vote of 109 to 14.

* * *

On Friday, I teamed with Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer and Rep. Sue Boldra for three town hall meetings in Hays, Victoria and Ellis. We had great attendance and a very good discussion of the issues facing the Legislature this session.

There will be a town hall meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday in Norton and 4 p.m. Saturday in Logan.

Travis Couture-Lovelady represents the 110th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. travis@travisforkansas.com

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