Monthly Archives: February 2008
The Lawrence Journal-World has an article up now that talks about the recent Kansas Democratic Caucus, and the lessons learned from it. As someone who was there first hand, I do want to say that I was proud to see so many people participate in our Democracy, and that I will work towards bringing a meaningful primary election to Kansas for all Kansans.
You can read the article here.
Containing Costs in Health Care Must Be Legislature’s Top Priority
One thing that I have noticed as a legislator is that the topic of health care affordability generally cuts across political lines. Regardless of party affiliation, most people who have health insurance think that the number one health care issue is cost containment. Unfortunately, the Kansas Health Policy Authority Board’s health care recommendations released this past November are silent on this issue.
The Kansas Health Policy Authority was established by the Kansas Legislature during the 2005 session to streamline various state healthcare programs, give the state purchasing clout to force changes in the health care system and improve upon existing health prevention campaigns. The Authority’s policy recommendations are centered around three priorities – 1) promoting personal responsibility, 2) promoting the concept of a medical home and paying for prevention, and 3) providing and protecting affordable health insurance. The estimated cost for implementing the recommendations is approximately $86 million annually from the State General Fund. Proposed funding sources include increasing the state’s tobacco user tax an additional 50 cents per cigarette pack.
While the Authority’s recommendations have considerable merit, my personal frustration with the recommendations is that they do nothing to address ever-rising premium rates experienced by many insured persons, particularly those who participate in individual and small group pools (self-employed and small business employees, teachers in smaller school districts, etc). I constantly hear from constituents about their never-ending battles with increasing premiums each year and how these increases wipe out any increases in income they might have received.
According to a 2003 New England Journal of Medicine article, administrative costs amount to 31% of all American healthcare expenditures and are nearly double versus what Canadians spend (16%). One change that would significantly decrease administrative healthcare costs (and thus lower premiums) would be to allow individual and small group pools to participate in larger pools, and I’ll once again be working to introduce and pass such legislation this session. Only when we force managed healthcare providers to become more efficient and cost-effective will the health of Kansas’ healthcare system finally start to improve.
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Please send me your feedback – I appreciate hearing where Kansans stand on the issues our state is facing. I can be reached at (785) 766-6862 (daytime) or (785) 865-2786 (evenings). My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you would like to be added to my legislative session e-mail newsletter mailing list, please send me your e-mail address.
Recently I had the chance to speak with the Hutchinson Daily News for a few minutes and discuss renewable energy policies in the state. I support any energy policy that makes our state independent and efficient. You can read the article here.