Daily Archives: Sept. 1, 2013

Could reduce number of uninsured Kansans much more

It is great news that the number of uninsured Kansans dropped from about 380,000 in 2010 to 350,000 in 2011, according to the most recent data. The drop is likely linked to provisions in the Affordable Car Act requiring insurance companies to provide coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and to allow people up to age 26 to be covered under their parents’ plans, an official at the Kansas Insurance Department said. Kansas could see a much greater drop in the number of uninsured if Gov. Sam Brownback and the Legislature would allow another provision of ACA to go into effect in Kansas: An expansion of Medicaid. According to a study by the Kansas Hospital Association, the expansion – which the federal government would fully pay for during the first three years and nearly fully pay for after that – would enable more than 150,000 Kansans to get needed insurance. It also would inject more than $3 billion into the state’s economy, create 4,000 jobs over the next seven years, and help strengthen hospitals. But Brownback wants Kansas to be more like Texas – which has the highest uninsured rate in the country.

Arts funding is wonderful, but will it continue?

The National Endowment for the Arts’ decision to provide $560,800 in matching funds to Kansas is wonderful news for the Kansas arts community, which has struggled to get by since Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed state arts funding in 2011. But ongoing NEA funding is uncertain, as Brownback and the Legislature removed most of the state arts funding for this fiscal year that lawmakers restored in 2012. “If Kansas fails to provide more state support, future NEA matching funds will be cut,” the advocacy group Kansas Citizens for the Arts warned in an e-mail. Also, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission has been incredibly slow in distributing grant money, which won’t please the NEA.

Transmission lines key to surge in wind power

One of the reasons why Kansas was slow to tap its wind-energy potential was that it lacked the infrastructure to transmit that power to energy markets. But thanks to the work spearheaded by former Gov. Mark Parkinson, which the Brownback administration has admirable continued, new transmission lines are helping move power both across Kansas and out of state. The Kansas Corporation Commission approved last week the route for a new 60-mile transmission line in north central Kansas being developed by ITC Great Plains and Mid-Kansas Electric Company. New transmission lines – along with the state’s renewable energy standards, which Parkinson also spearheaded – are a key reason why the amount of wind energy generating capacity in Kansas more than doubled in 2012, boosting Kansas into the top 10 states for wind power.