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Big Piece Of Plan For Balancing Kansas Budget Is In Trouble

An $80 million-dollar piece of Governor Sam Brownback's plan for balancing the next state budget is in trouble in the Legislature because a major health insurance company opposes it.

Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said in a statement yesterday that the governor's office is having active discussions with Aetna, legislators and the state Insurance Department about the disputed measure.

It would increase a fee paid by HMOs to 5.5 percent from 1 percent.

Three private health insurers that manage the state's Medicaid program would pay most of it.

Aetna told legislators last month that it would pay $12 million a year in additional fees and Kansas consumers would see higher premiums.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure last month but it has stalled in the House.