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You can keep your money: Kansas joins Oklahoma in rejecting federal healthcare exchange grant

Thursday, August 11, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Obamacare, Kansas, health news

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(NaturalNews) The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has dispensed more than $240 million in taxpayer-funded grants to six states and a multi-state consortium to facilitate the creation of "Obamacare" health insurance exchanges. However two states and counting -- Oklahoma and, more recently, Kansas -- have sent the money back, which essentially marks their refusal to comply with the health care bill's unconstitutional mandates.

According to a recent Reuters report, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced that his state would be returning the $31.5 million "Early Innovator" grant it received from HHS, which was to be used in establishing a marketplace of sorts where uninsured individuals and small businesses could pool their negotiating power and barter with competing insurance plans to obtain the best rates.

But Kansas, following in the footsteps of Oklahoma, has rejected the money, likely on the grounds that since it is currently fighting the legitimacy of the healthcare bill in court, it would make little sense to accept funding for the purpose of helping to implement it. So now HHS will be responsible for setting up the exchanges itself in the two states which, of course, will depend on pending court rulings that may or may not declare Obamacare to even be constitutional.

Back in April, Oklahoma returned its $54.6 million grant, which together with Kansas' grant represents nearly $90 million in federal funding. Four other states, including Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin, have all received grants as well, but none of them have thus far rejected them.

"There is much uncertainty surrounding the ability of the federal government to meet its already budgeted future spending obligations," said Gov. Brownback in a statement. "Every state should be preparing for fewer federal resources, not more. To deal with that reality Kansas needs to maintain maximum flexibility. That requires freeing Kansas from the strings attached to the Early Innovator Grant."

If Obamacare is upheld and HHS does end up implementing the insurance exchanges in both Kansas and Oklahoma rather than the two states doing it themselves, the federal government will ultimately have far more control over how they are run than if the states were to comply now. However, complying now indicates support for and acceptance of the healthcare bill and its provisions, a move which neither state is willing to make.

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