GOP lawmakers from Kansas and Oklahoma want to use funds granted by the Affordable Care Act to help pay down the deficit, instead of reducing the number of Americans without health insurance. Both states applied for “early innovator grants” to experiment with technology for the law’s new health insurance exchanges, were awarded the money, but ultimately rejected it. Now, Reps. Jim Lankfordand (R-KS) and Mike Pompeo (R-OK) have introduce a bill to use the funds to pay down the deficit:
“Simply giving the money back to the Obama administration to be spent elsewhere is not acceptable in light of our current debt situation,” Pompeo said. [...]
“Kansas and Oklahoma have sent a clear signal to this administration that they reject its strings-attached funding,” said Pompeo, who was not in Congress when lawmakers voted on health care but opposes the measure. “Let’s use these funds to pay down our deficit.”
McClatchy reports that the entire Kansas and Oklahoma House delegations have already signed on to the proposal.
The grant money — $31.5 million for Kansas and $54 million for Oklahoma — will have essentially zero impact on the deficit. The combined $85 million represents about one 16,000th of the $1.4 trillion deficit. On the other hand, the grants would help develop technologies for the insurance exchanges, allowing Americans who are unemployed, self-employed, or work somewhere that doesn’t offer coverage to enroll in affordable insurance. Unfortunately, as in other states, Republicans seem interested in making a political statement, despite that fact that it will adversely affect the 347,400 and 578,500 uninsured residents in Kansas and Oklahoma, respectively.