June 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Kelly allows Farm Bureau health benefit bill to become law without her signature

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A bill that will allow Kansas Farm Bureau to offer health care coverage that doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, will be state law in July. Gov. Laura Kelly allowed the measure to become law without her signature.

“After long and careful deliberation–including in-depth discussions with both opponents and proponents–I continue to harbor serious reservations about this legislation,” Kelly said in a statement.

The law will allow the Farm Bureau to offer coverage plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions, which Kelly insinuated is “fundamentally wrong.” The law does not require anyone to purchase the Farm Bureau coverage.

The Governor also expressed concern that only two other states have health care models that allow coverage plans like the ones Kansas Farm Bureau will soon be allowed to offer.

“New ideas always carry a certain level of risk,” Kelly said.

She said the risks can be mitigated by expanding Medicaid. Expanding Obamacare is a centerpiece of Kelly’s agenda but a legislative proposal remains stuck in the Senate after passing the Kansas House of Representatives.

Senate President Susan Wagle, however, said the Farm Bureau plans will offer an affordable alternative to skyrocketing insurance costs for farmers and ranchers, “that won’t fall under the disaster of Obamacare.”

Members of the House used a legislative sleight of hand to pass Medicaid expansion earlier this session, but the bill has languished in a Senate committee. Senators will be asked to consider debating the House’s plan when lawmakers return to Topeka in May. In order to vote on the House’s proposal, 27 Senators will need to agree to debate, which Senate leadership has said is unlikely.

However, Rep. Brandon Woodard, a Lenexa Democrat, viewed Kelly’s decision to allow the Farm Bureau bill to become law a “big jolt of momentum” for Medicaid expansion.

“Instead of returning the conversation to the @KSFarmBureau benefit plan, we can head into veto session with a laser focus on expanding Medicaid (without) a fractured coalition from an override fight,” Woodard tweeted.

Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts’ statement appeared to offer his organization’s support for Obamacare expansion. He said Kelly has “paved the way for lawmakers to advance a comprehensive healthcare solution that will benefit our entire state.”

“The Governor’s plan to help rural hospitals, create new jobs and expand affordable healthcare to non-KFB members remains a critical piece of that puzzle,” Felts said.

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