Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a moderate Republican who’s in the middle of her third term, indicated recently that she probably won’t run for re-election. That’s understandable, given the conservative tide sweeping Kansas, but it would be the state’s loss.
She’s less a politician than an expert on insurance matters, and she’s spent the last decade trying to protect the interests of Kansans as insurance consumers. As she told the Associated Press, “My position is really more apolitical, just trying to be a good insurance regulator.” She accepts the Affordable Care Act as progress in large part because of the near universal access to care it offers. Of Gov. Sam Brownback and his refusal to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare — she says, “His is a more political position, and I understand that.”
The governor and his conservative supporters, including an influential contingent of tea partiers, are counting on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to oust President Barack Obama from office. They’re further counting on Mr. Romney to make good on his promise to repeal Obamacare, which would render the dispute between Gov. Brownback and Mrs. Praeger over the application of Obamacare in Kansas moot.
Their disagreement involves the establishment of a health exchange for Kansas, a provision of the law that called for such exchanges in every state. Kansas isn’t the only state to balk at the provision — or at Obamacare. In fact, rejection is the rule among Republican states.
Kansas and some of these states had placed an earlier bet that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule Obamacare unconstitutional, and felt downright betrayed when Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. broke from the conservative bloc and found the law acceptable.
Perhaps betting on Mr. Romney will prove more successful. Although unless Republicans win a majority in the Senate — perhaps even a supermajority would be necessary — Obamacare isn’t likely to be repealed. Still, if Mr. Romney wins, Kansas and other states would likely get waivers from many of the law’s requirements.
To her credit, Mrs. Praeger is continuing to try to protect Kansans’ access to health care. Despite the governor’s lack of interest, she has prepared and sent him recommendations for minimum requirements for policies that would be sold on the exchange.
Given that she has put the insurance needs of Kansans ahead of ideological concerns, we’re confident those recommendations are well thought out.