Schmidt will fight health care, earns Dole's approval

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Oct 6, 2010


TOPEKA, Kansas (Legal Newsline) - The Republican candidate for Kansas attorney general is promising to challenge the federal health care law.

Derek Schmidt appeared at a press conference Monday in Topeka along with Republican gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback and lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Colyer.

All three pledged to fight President Barack Obama's health care reform and "its adverse effects on Kansans."

Schmidt, the state's Senate Majority Leader, said as Kansas attorney general he would join the lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

"This power grab by the federal government is unprecedented in American legal history. Today the issue is health care," Schmidt said in a statement.

"But if this precedent is established, it will permanently expand the reach, cost and scoop of the federal government. For those who care about individual liberty and limited government, this is a constitutional fight worth fighting."

The Democratic incumbent Steve Six has refused to file a lawsuit against the measure.

Twenty states have filed a lawsuit in Florida federal court claiming the mandate is unconstitutional.

Schmidt said the new federal health care law would mean the following for residents:

-44,000 Kansans enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have their benefits reduced by half;

-Approximately 1 million Kansas households making less than $200,000 will pay higher taxes, based on estimates by the state's Joint Committee on Taxation;

-182,000 Kansans in the individual health insurance market will see premium rate increases of up to 49 percent based upon a BlueCross/BlueShield study and other analysis;

-Kansas small businesses employing 50 or more people, and 2,956 Kansas construction companies employing five or more, will pay either higher health care costs or a new penalty because of new government mandates; and

-Between $160 million and $260 million in new Medicaid costs to Kansas will threaten funding for all other state priorities.

Schmidt said as attorney general he also would work with the Kansas Legislature to continue the state's health care reform efforts, including encouraging small business health plans and health savings accounts as well as reducing waste, fraud and abuse in the state's Medicaid program.

Tuesday, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole endorsed Schmidt.

Dole said in a statement he has known Schmidt since he was a young staff member for Sen. Nancy Kassebaum on Capitol Hill. Kassebaum, also a Republican, represented the state from 1978 to 1997.

"As a legal adviser to a United States Senator, counsel to a Kansas governor, assistant Kansas attorney general for consumer protection, city prosecutor in Independence and leader in the Kansas Senate, Derek has demonstrated time and again his commitment to public law and to public service on behalf of Kansans," Dole said.

Dole said Schmidt's wife, Jennifer, also worked in his Senate office.

"Derek has demonstrated he is that fair-minded person with the experience and perspective required of our next attorney general," Dole said.

"We need more dedicated young professionals like Derek Schmidt in public life. Kansas needs it, both parties need it, and America certainly needs it. That's why I'm proud to support Derek in his race for Kansas attorney general."

Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 until 1996. He was the Republican nominee for Vice President in 1976 and the Republican nominee for President in 1996.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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