KCUR News
1:39 pm
Wed August 10, 2011

Kansas Rejects $31.5 Million Healthcare Grant

SALINA, Ks. – Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he's sending a more than $31 million federal grant back to Washington.

In February, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded Kansas, along with a handful of other states, an "Early Innovator" grant to pay for the information technology needed to set up a health insurance exchange.

In the past, Brownback has said it's important to tailor the exchange to the needs of Kansans. In announcing his decision to send the grant back, the Governor said the grant has too many strings attached.

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who has led the exchange planning in Kansas, says that assessment's not true.

"HHS to this point has been extremely flexible with us in all aspects of it," says Praeger.

Praeger, in conjunction with the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and NFIB, launched a series of public forums just this week to hear from the state's business community about their ideas for the exchange. The chamber's Eric Stafford says those meetings have been called off unless, and until, exchange planning resumes.

"I think there's still an opportunity for a Kansas specific exchange," says Stafford. "The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, and until that's repealed, all 50 states will be required to establish their exchange."