Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that extended the duration of short-term health insurance policies that she called “junk” and called on the legislature to extend access to Medicaid. (Sherman Smith / Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA – Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday vetoed a bill designed to extend the duration of “junk” health insurance plans that do not cover pre-existing conditions and renewed her commitment to expanding Medicaid to provide additional coverage. Kansans with lower incomes.
The Senate easily passed Senate Bill 29, but the House narrowly passed legislation that expands the opportunities for people to rely on “stop-gap” insurance policies that often do not cover pre-existing conditions. In 2017, President Donald Trump maneuvered to allow companies that sold six- or 12-month health insurance policies in Kansas to expand the scope of those policies for up to three years.
Kelly, a Democrat seeking re-election, said the vetoed bill affirmed the need to expand Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act.
He said acceptance of the expansion of Medicaid, a policy blocked by the Republican-led House and Senate, would provide preventive health care to up to 165,000 Kansans, bring thousands of jobs to the state, protect hospitals financially vulnerable rural areas and would inject millions into federal funding. to the state economy.
“Rubbish insurance, which does not cover pre-existing conditions or provide protection to the consumer, is just that: rubbish,” the governor said. “The signing of this bill would cause more Kansas families to fail because of medical bills. If the legislature wants to take seriously improving access to health care, they should join another 38 states and the district of Columbia and approve the expansion of Medicaid. “
Under current Kansas law, companies can offer this category of 12-month health insurance policy. The bill would have altered the definition of “short-term and limited duration” to be a policy of less than one year and offering extensions for up to 36 months.
Republican Sen. Eudora Beverly Gossage, owner of a health savings account consulting firm and unsuccessful candidate for Kansas insurance commissioner, told a Senate committee in March that health plans are limited in duration. they were an affordable option for people between jobs or not interested in comprehensive coverage. These policies are exempt from the definition of individual health insurance coverage under the ACA.
He said short-term plans would not be beneficial to all consumers, but should be available to people who might not otherwise buy private insurance.
“Short-term plans have a premium of at least 60% to 70% lower than ACA plans, mainly because they do not cover pre-existing conditions or other benefits that some buyers do not want or prefer to pay in cash, such as normal maternity, prescriptions, chiropractic services or mental health, “Gossage said.” Buyers appreciate that they only pay what they want to cover insurance. “
The insurance reform promoted by Gossage opposed the Cancer Action Cancer Society of the American Cancer Society, with a representative of the organization arguing that these health plans could deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or collect higher premiums due to their eagerness. This type of policy, according to the organization, would deny people the full coverage needed if they were diagnosed with a serious unplanned illness such as cancer.
“Access to quality health coverage directly affects people’s ability to prevent, detect, and survive cancer,” said Christina Cowart, Kansas grassroots manager. “The sad reality is that death and suffering from cancer are attributable to the gaps in our health care system.”
He said proponents of short-term insurance plans promote lower premiums relative to ACA plans, but policies of limited duration “actually expose those with serious illnesses to much higher out-of-pocket costs.”
Other opponents of the governor-vetoed legislation included the American Heart Association, Legal Swan, Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Be The Match / National Marrow Donor Program, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, National Alliance on Mental Illness Kansas and the Susan G. Komen Center for Public Policy.
The 2021 legislature is scheduled to convene on May 26 for the ceremonial closing of the annual session, but has the option of trying to pass bills or annulments of a governor’s veto.
The House and Senate passed the bill on May 7, but only the Senate passed the legislation with a two-thirds veto-proof majority. The Senate vote was 29 to 11, while the House voted 68-51 on the bill.