Big part of Brownback’s budget plan is in trouble

By John Hana
Associated Press

An $80 million piece of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan for balancing Kansas’ next budget is in trouble because a major health insurance company opposes it.

“The bill overall is in trouble,” House Insurance Committee Chairman Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, said Wednesday. “He’s going to have to come up with a different proposal.”

The proposal would increase a fee paid by HMOs to 5.5 percent from 1 percent. The state would use the new revenues to capture additional federal funds for its Medicaid program, which provides health coverage to about 368,000 needy and disabled residents.

Three private health insurance companies managing the Medicaid program would pay most of the estimated $136 million in new fees during the fiscal year beginning July 1. But they’d also get enough money to offset an extra tax imposed under the 2010 federal health care law, making the state’s net gain about $80 million.

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