Kansas among states challenging Obamacare in court

by Jim McLean, Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt acknowledges that a multi-state attack on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could wipe out some popular consumer protections.

But, Schmidt said, he believes Congress will step in to preserve certain parts of the law if he and 19 other Republican attorneys general succeed in striking down the individual mandate — that everybody buy coverage or face a fine on their tax return — as unconstitutional.

“The most popular policy in the world cannot stand if the Constitution doesn’t permit it,” Schmidt said in an interview. “I am convinced that the Constitution does not permit the mandate absent the tax component.”

That is the crux of the case. The states are arguing that the mandate requiring Americans — with few exceptions — to purchase health coverage became unconstitutional when Congress repealed the tax penalties needed to enforce it.

Still, Schmidt said, the potential consequences of the lawsuit, which is now pending in a federal court in Texas, “give me pause.”

“Congress is going to have to revisit the ACA one way or the other,” he said.

Polls indicate that Americans are particularly concerned about the part of the law that says insurance companies cannot return to their pre-Obamacare practice of refusing to issue policies to people with pre-existing health conditions. They also want to keep provisions to prohibit insurers from charging sick people more for coverage.

“I have a strong suspicion that in the event we prevail, pre-existing conditions, in particular, will be revisited quickly,” Schmidt said. “There is a bipartisan group of mostly Republicans in Congress that just recently introduced legislation to do that.”

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., is among the co-sponsors of a resolution introduced last week that calls on Congress to “support protections” for those with pre-existing conditions.

“Throughout our ongoing health care debates, I have made a promise: I will protect those with pre-existing conditions and ensure they are not denied the affordable coverage and care they need to survive,” Yoder said in a statement, which also noted his sponsorship of H.R. 1121, the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act.

Introduced more year-and-a-half ago that bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Still, Yoder, a four-term incumbent locked in what appears to be a competitive race against Democratic challenger Sharice Davids, could be vulnerable on the issue because of his vote last spring to repeal Obamacare.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called Yoder’s sponsorship of the non-binding resolution an “empty gesture.”

“It’s no coincidence that 54 days out from election day, vulnerable Rep. Kevin Yoder is doing damage control to hide his unpopular record of voting to gut protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and raise health care costs on Kansas families,” the DCCC said in a statement.

The issue is also making waves in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley, the state’s attorney general. Hawley, according to the Kansas City Star, is saying that he too wants to maintain pre-existing condition protections. But, McCaskill said, that is the opposite of what that he and other attorneys general are pushing for in the lawsuit. It argues that striking down the individual mandate should invalidate the entire law.

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.

See more at http://www.kcur.org/post/kansas-among-states-challenging-obamacare-court.


Police investigate suspicious death, stabbing

Kansas City, Kansas, police officers are investigating a suspicious death in the 1200 block of North 79th Street.

At around 6:08 p.m. Sept. 17, officers responded to the scene where they found a man in his early 30s, deceased in a field.

There were no visible signs of foul play, and further investigation will determine the cause of death, according to a police spokesman.

In another incident, about 9:45 p.m. Sept. 17, police officers were dispatched to 2224 Birch Drive on a reported stabbing, the police spokesman stated.

They found a man in his early 30s with life-threatening injuries. He was taken to a hospital, where he was revived and was last known to be in critical condition, the spokesman stated.

The Police Department’s Major Case Unit is investigating. Anyone with information may call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS.


UG administrator gives county budget presentation in Bonner Springs

Unified Government Administrator Doug Bach gave a county budget presentation Monday evening at the George Meyn Community Center, Bonner Springs. (Photo by William Crum)

by William Crum

About 30 people, including the mayors of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Kansas City, Kansas, attended a presentation Monday night on the Wyandotte County budget.

The presentation was held at the George Meyn Community Center, Bonner Springs.

Doug Bach, UG administrator, spoke about the Wyandotte County budget, which was passed Aug. 2. The Wyandotte County mill levy rate remains the same at 38.880, while valuations have increased an average of 7.9 percent.

Bonner Springs Mayor Jeff Harrington, Edwardsville Mayor John McTaggart and Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor David Alvey attended the meeting.

Four members of the Edwardsville City Council and four members of the Bonner Springs City Council attended the meeting. Only a few questions were asked at the meeting.

The budget presentation included a slide on actions affecting revenue generation. (Photo by William Crum)
Budgeted expenditures were the topic of another slide. (Photo by William Crum)
Mayors, from top, John McTaggart, David Alvey and Jeff Harrington attended the budget presentation Monday evening. (Photo by William Crum)
About $5.3 million was budgeted for public safety for 2019, according to this slide. (Photo by William Crum)
County revenues were divided by fund category. (Photo by William Crum)