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Kobach Urges Congress To Ratify Controversial Health Compact

Courtesy photo
U.S. Department of Justice

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is urging members of Congress to ratify a controversial health compact that would give Kansas and eight other states control over Medicare and other federal health care programs within their borders.

Kobach, a Republican whose positions on voter fraud and immigration have made him a controversial figure both in Kansas and nationally, said in a letter to Republican members of Congress that the compact is “the only legal path that we have left to end Obamacare,” referring to the federal Affordable Care Act that was spearheaded by President Barack Obama.

Kobach sent the letter July 9 to GOP members who represent the nine states that have adopted legislation authorizing the compact. His office included a copy of the letter in a media release Monday.

“I feel that it is my personal duty to do everything possible to stop Obamacare in the wake of the Supreme Court’s two erroneous decisions sustaining it,” Kobach, a former constitutional law professor, wrote, referring to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that upheld the ACA.

The most recent of those decisions, released June 25, preserved federal tax subsidies used by nearly 70,000 Kansans to purchase health insurance through the online marketplace at healthcare.gov.

Kobach says the rulings left those “who cherish the sovereign authority of states” wondering whether there was any way left to “avoid the overreaching federal mandates and regulations of Obamacare.”

The compact would give member states regulatory and administrative control of federal health care programs, except those that cover members of the U.S. military.

Gov. Sam Brownback, who like Kobach is a conservative Republican, signed the bill authorizing the state’s membership in the compact in April 2014, despite concerns that it could threaten the Medicare benefits of nearly 450,000 Kansans.

“Some members of the Legislature seem determined to express their disdain for the ACA,” Maren Turner, director of AARP Kansas, said at the time. “Placing the health care of Kansans in jeopardy is not the way to do it.”

A bill to ratify the compact was recently referred to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, Kobach said in his letter.

“I urge you to do everything in your power to speed its adoption,” he wrote, adding that if Congress approves the compact it does not “require the president’s signature.”

That has been a matter of debate among legal scholars.

Jim McLean is executive editor of KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team.

Jim McLean is a political correspondent for the Kansas News Service, a collaboration based at KCUR with other public media stations across Kansas. You can email him at jim@kcur.org.
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