Health Care Looks at Smoking Ban, Sekptics Persist

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Even leaders of the state's Health Policy Authority are skeptical that its big health care plan can pass the 2009 Legislature.

But they say they're still going to keep pushing, so that lawmakers are ready when that ``tipping point'' comes.

The Kansas Health Policy Authority proposes to phase in an increase in spending on health programs of about $240 million over four years.

The plan also would ban smoking in public places statewide and increase tobacco taxes.

Authority board Chairman Ned Holland Jr. and Executive Director Marcia Nielsen said the plan looks expensive because it aims to bring state coverage to 24,000 poor parents.

They say lowering the number of uninsured Kansans is important to any reform plan.