Kansas, on Tuesday, returned a large grant provided by the federal government to help the state establish a health insurance exchange program. The state has long opposed the health care reform instigated by the Obama administration and has taken steps to block the reform’s measures from affecting the insurance industry within Kansas. Several other states have railed against the reform, but Kansas is only the second to return money to the federal government. They money would have funded the majority of the insurance exchange, but now the state will have to face down the federal government as the 2014 deadline for the exchanges inches ever closer.
The state received more than $31 million in funding from the government. If used, the money would have made Kansas one of the leaders in the race to establish exchanges. Six other states have received similar funding, yet none have given the money back to the government as of yet. Indeed, few states that have received money from the government have yet to pursue exchanges, perhaps waiting for a clear example to be established by their neighbors.
States are faced with two deadlines concerning exchanges. The first is set for January of 2013 and calls for states to submit detailed information about their plans to construct exchange programs. The second is set for January of 2014, when the exchanges must be completed and fully operational. If states fail to comply with either of these deadlines, the federal government, acting through the Department of Health and Human Services, will take control of the initiative and establish the exchanges themselves.