Kansas insurance commissioner, possible gubernatorial candidate advises responsible spending

Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer says he would advocate for increasing efficiency and reducing spending as he weighs a run for Kansas governor, a month after lawmakers overrode GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto to raise taxes.

Selzer, a Leawood Republican and certified public accountant, first told The Kansas City Star he was weighing a gubernatorial run, but he said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll pursue the nomination. He said, though, he could bring a “common sense” approach to keeping the state’s costs low while still providing services. He couldn’t say yet where state spending might need to be cut. He said his insurance department has reduced personnel by about 15 percent by not always filling positions vacated by retirees.

“We know that we’ll be focused on serving the people of Kansas,” he said. “We understand budgeting.”

Selzer said the state could provide services while still cutting spending by being “efficient, productive, innovative and responsive.”

The Legislature chose last month to give state employees a pay raise, direct more money toward Medicaid home services and increase spending for public schools under a Supreme Court order.

Kansas GOP executive director Clay Barker said Selzer had talked to the party about running, but that he hasn’t filed paperwork to raise money or announce a campaign. Selzer said he started considering a run for governor this spring when U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, announced she would retire from political life, and former U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican, was nominated to be President Donald Trump’s CIA director, rather than joining the gubernatorial race.

Selzer said that budget-minded approach was also important as the U.S. Senate works on a bill to replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He said deficit spending on Medicaid needs to be managed, and he said the exchange where people can buy insurance needs to be improved. His office, he said, is working to find another insurance company to sell on the exchange after Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced in May that it would pull out of exchanges in Kansas and Missouri.

Selzer also warned that selling insurance across state lines wouldn’t be an effective tool to increase competition and lower health care prices, though some lawmakers, like Jenkins, support the idea.

[via CJ Online]

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