Thursday, September 19, 2013
The Kansas Insurance Commissioner says she wants to make sure Kansans know how the Affordable Care Act will affect them.
Sandy Praeger and staff members from her office presented workshops in Wichita yesterday. The workshops were to show consumers how to navigate the online health care exchanges that open Oct. 1.
Praeger has been at odds with other state leaders in her own Republican Party over the federal health care law. However she said after a lecture at Wichita State University Thursday night it's not her job to play the politics of the new law.
"It's the law," Praeger said. "We're here to implement and that's what we're doing."
With full implementation of the Affordable Care Act coming at the beginning of 2014, Praeger and Kansas Insurance Department staffers are hitting the road, making sure Kansans know what options the new law makes available to them.
"We want people to at least explore their options because there are some real benefits for folks that they may not be aware of," Praeger said.
Wichita business owner Ben Huie said he believes becoming aware of the law's provisions has been difficult because of political bickering. Huie disputes claims -- including those made by Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer before a Congressional committee Wednesday -- that the law will hurt small businesses.
"Quite frankly, 90 percent of what's out there is disinformation and, quite frankly, it's put out there to confuse and create fear," Huie said.
Huie said he will not be required to contribute to employees' health insurance coverage under the new law and he does not believe the law will be detrimental to small businesses. He said he was thankful for the opportunity to learn more about the law Thursday night.
"I think Commissioner Praeger has shown a great deal of courage and a great deal of initiative in trying to inform the working people of the state of Kansas as to exactly what this plan is," Huie said.
Praeger says that is her job.
"Our responsibility as insurance regulators is to make sure people understand their options," she said.
The Kansas Insurance Deaprtment has launched a website, insureKS.org to help answer consumers' questions. The website also provides a link to a schedule of upcoming informational workshops across the state.