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Across the Christmas Dinner Table

Across the Christmas Dinner Table

Maybe because it’s Christmas week, when the kids come home for the presents and holiday gatherings, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, has decided to keep one of those presents that she really didn’t want.

That present? It’s the portion of former Democrat President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Wagle and a shrinking number of Republicans oppose that hands them and most Americans the popular provision that almost all health insurance must provide coverage for preexisting conditions.

Now, if you’re a health insurance company, that preexisting condition language that remains in federal law prohibits those insurers from refusing to cover health-care costs that can be linked to a preexisting condition. Had a heart attack or some other serious illness before you change insurers? Well, that preexisting condition provision prohibits insurers from refusing to sell you a policy or charge you a higher premium because of the possibility that a preexisting condition will drive up their costs.

Oh, that ACA also provides relatively low cost coverage to folks who might not be able to afford their health care out of pocket, and reduces the number of folks with illnesses that could be transferred to you and your friends and relatives, but link it to a former Democrat president and call it “Obamacare” and some conservative Republicans oppose it.

But…it’s Christmastime, and while you’re at the dinner table talking about health insurance and looking across the table at your kids who are covered under your health insurance policy, there’s that other provision that Wagle wants put into state law if Obamacare goes away due to federal court rulings. 

It’s the issue of keeping your children covered under your policy until they are 26—another Obamacare provision—that means you don’t have to worry about your children’s health until they are…grown-ups?

Now, the Kansas Legislature is picky about what portions of federal law it likes and doesn’t like, but in recent years, insurance has been an area that Kansas lawmakers have been choosy about. Take last year, when it decided that the Farm Bureau can offer policies without preexisting condition coverage, or even how long children can be covered, as long as it doesn’t call its plan “insurance.”

But for most Kansans, basic coverages are important, Obamacare or not…

So, are we waiting to see just how much horsepower the president of the Senate can muster for her plan, or are we seeing the Senate President testing how much support she can muster for a new state law that is going to be popular, and possibly helpful in a GOP primary race for the U.S. Senate? 

Now, it might mean that health insurers, whose rising rates and soaring deductibles have been blasted by nearly everyone with a policy, are going to have to explain that Wagle’s bill isn’t needed now and won’t be unless the ACA is declared unconstitutional. So, insurers are likely to testify this winter that the bill is a waste of time.

But if you don’t care for federally regulated Obamacare, you are still going to want those two provisions. It’s almost insurance-on-insurance that may make the Wagle bill seem, well, like insurance that you don’t need until you need it…

And, let’s not forget that the upcoming session comes in the year that all members of the Legislature stand for re-election, and those who want to be able to talk against Obamacare can still put on their campaign literature that they support key pieces of the federal law without referring to it by name.

Doesn’t get much better than that, if you’re a conservative seeking reelection.