Moderate Republican: Anti-Obamacare Plan ‘Unmitigated Disaster’

By John Celock

A leading moderate Republican in Kansas is calling the state’s new law to leave Obamacare an ‘unmitigated disaster.

Former state Senate President Steve Morris (R-Hugoton), who has already broken from his party on the governor’s race, is questioning a bill signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in April that would allow the state to leave the federal health care law based on future congressional action. Under the health care compact bill, Kansas would be able to leave the Affordable Care Act if permission is given by Congress for states to opt in to a health care compact. The Health Care Compact, which would give the states control over health care programs, has been opposed by moderate Republicans in the state, along with Democrats.

“I hope that never comes to pass,” Morris said of the health care compact. Medicare is a huge concern. There are 450,000 people in Kansas on Medicare.”

Under the terms of the Health Care Compact, Kansas would assume control over the Medicare program. Supporters of the Health Care Compact have said this would allow state government greater control over health care and bring health policy out of the federal government’s control. Federal funds would be given to the state to run the program. Kansas is not the only state to opt into the Health Care Compact, in the event that Congress ends Obamacare.

Opponents have said that state government, particularly in Kansas does not have the systems in place to operate the Medicare program and the costs would be too high for the state. They have said that the state could move health care funds to other programs. Supporters have said the Kansas law would keep the funds for health care.

“It would be an unmitigated disaster,” Morris told The Celock Report, noting that no other state has taken over Medicare.

Morris said that it “boggles my mind” on how the state would be able to run the Medicare program. He said the size and scope of Medicare is too large for the state to handle and the logistics have not been thought through by those supporting the Health Care Compact.

Morris’ comments on the Health Care Comment are the latest in a series of steps he and other moderate Republicans have taken to distance themselves from Brownback and conservative Republicans. Morris, who was defeated in the 2012 GOP primary by a conservative Republican, was one of 100 moderate Republicans, largely former elected officials who have endorsed Brownback’s opponent, Democrat Paul Davis, in this year’s gubernatorial race.

Morris’ comments are the latest salvo in the civil war between moderate and conservative Republicans in Kansas. Morris has also said that he hopes to recruit more moderate Republicans to join him in backing Davis, a theory state Republicans have said it unlikely to happen.

State Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee), who sponsored the Health Care Compact legislation, told The Celock Report that the “real threat” is Obamacare. He said that the federal government has taken funding from Medicare to help pay for other programs. He noted that the legislation’s language says the health care funds would pay for Medicare.

Hildabrand noted that Kansas residents would be able to get better health care service if the program was state run.

“Government closest to the people, governs best,” he said. “When a constituent can call their state rep and get an answer to their and resolution to their health care questions within a few days, or get lost in a maze of federal bureaucracy, who would they naturally pick?”

Hildabrand also disagreed with Morris with which program was going to cause overall problems.

“Obamacare is the unmitigated disaster,” Hildabrand said. “This is why we see delay after delay in the full rollout of the law.”