TOPEKA — The nonpartisan affiliate of the American Cancer Society on Wednesday urged Governor Laura Kelly to veto a bill extending the duration of “deceptively” affordable short-term health plans because benefits are lower than Affordable Care Act pre-existing condition standards.
The Kansas Senate has upheld legislation first approved by the Kansas House that would make it legal for people to enroll in a short-term, time-limited health plan for 36 months, which would match federal regulations passed during the tenure of President Donald Trump. Under current Kansas law, individuals can extend a one-year contract for only 12 months.
Megan Word, who represents the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Kansas, said the contents of Senate Bill 199 would expand the availability of alternative health plans that often deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or COVID-19 as well as maternity care or prescription drugs.
She said Kelly should veto extending so-called STLD plans to Kansas because the plans did not cap out-of-pocket expenses and could carry high deductibles despite lower monthly premiums. The inherent financial barrier could force people with serious illnesses — like the 16,000 Kansans diagnosed with cancer each year — to delay or forgo care, she said.
“STLD plans are deceptively affordable and ultimately offer more risk than benefit,” Word said. “STLD plans do not provide the health coverage Kansans deserve. They’re not good enough for Kansas and they shouldn’t be good enough for Kansas lawmakers.
The bill aligning Kansas STLD law with the Trump administration’s policy of extending the allowable term to 36 months was approved by the Senate on a vote of 28 to 11 and by the House on a vote of 73 against 49.
In 2021, Kelly vetoed a comparable bill, which the Kansas Democratic Party denounced as “unwanted insurance” that discriminated against Kansas with pre-existing conditions.
Senator Beverly Gossage, an Eudora Republican and independent health insurance agent, has been a strong advocate for extending STLD renewals. She introduced Senate Bill 199.
Gossage said the legislation would expand a reasonable alternative to traditional insurance policies and Affordable Care Act market-related coverage. She said STLD plans might work for people who were between jobs or had other short-term health coverage needs.
The senator said STLD plans are not suitable for all Kansans, but could mean the difference for some consumers between limited coverage and no coverage at all.
“Short-term plans have at least a 60% to 70% lower premium than ACA plans, mainly because they don’t cover pre-existing conditions or other benefits that some buyers don’t want or would prefer to pay in cash, like normal maternity. , prescriptions, chiropractic services or mental health. Buyers appreciate that they only pay for what they want the insurance to cover,” Gossage said.
Gossage said Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma have passed laws allowing companies to offer customers an STLD plan for up to 36 months. Extensions to those plans would be at the discretion of the company rather than the consumer, she said.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Academy of Pediatrics of Kansas, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Be The Match/National Marrow Donor Program, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and National Alliance on Mental illness.