Kansas Becomes Second States To Drop Out of "Early Innovator" Program


Kansas Becomes Second States To Drop Out of "Early Innovator" Program

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 - 7:59
Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 07:44
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback decides to return a $31.5 million federal grant designed to help the state develop innovative IT solutions for its health insurance exchange.

Kansas has become the second state to return an "Early Innovator" grant from the federal government that was designed to enable a handful of states to become leaders in the development of insurance exchanges. Oklahome became the first state to do so earlier this year.

Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin currently remain as early innovators. The federal government designed the program to give a few states the chance to develop innovative solutions on health exchanges that could be copied by other states, preventing each individual state from having to expend money and staff while trying to reinvent the wheel.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback returned his states $31.5 million grant after deciding that it too firmly attached Kansas to implementing the health reform law. News organizations, including National Journal, noted that Kansas Tea Party Republicans have been criticizing the governor for opposing the health law but accepting the federal grant.

As we asked in an earlier blog post, when it appeared that Oregon might have trouble following through on the program (it has since moved forward), what happens to the returned money? Does it go to the remaining early innovators? Will the loss of two early innovator states impede the development of exchanges throughout the country?