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Obama-like health care reform has Kansas GOP roots

Former Kansas GOP Sens. Bob Dole (in photo) and Nancy Landon Kassebaum co-sponsored a bill in 1993 that was similar to the recently passed health care reform law. And in 2007, former GOP gubernatorial candidate and current 1st Congressional District candidate Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia, asked that a similar plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation be introduced in the Legislature. But now, many Republicans are blasting as a "government takeover" the reforms that their party leaders once described as "market-based, consumer-driven" solutions, including the individual health insurance mandate. That puzzles Len Nichols, director of the George Mason University Center for Health Policy and Ethics. "I've now read the bill three times, and I can't find the government takeover," he told the Kansas Health Institute News Service. "If it is a government takeover, why is private insurance at the core of it? Why are rules designed to make markets work at the guts of it?" Rather than trying to get the attorney general to sue, Kansas lawmakers should make sure that Kansas exercises the flexibility that exists in the new law, Nichols said. "The lesson to me is clear: Work together and make this work and stop trying to claim it is something it is not."