TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas shouldn't let fear of change prevent it from overhauling Medicaid, an influential legislator said Tuesday, as Gov. Sam Brownback's administration stuck with plans to let private companies manage the $2.9 billion program starting next year.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, a Newton Republican, responded to criticism that the Brownback administration is moving too quickly to make massive changes in the state's health coverage for the poor, the disabled and elderly. Rhoades said the state can't sustain its current Medicaid program because of rising costs.

"We don't want fear to lock us into doing nothing," Rhoades told The Associated Press. "At some point, you have to pull the trigger."

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who led the team that developed Brownback's overhaul plan, said Monday that companies have shown "vigorous" interest in becoming contractors. Colyer, a surgeon, made his remarks during a dinner gathering that Brownback had with a bipartisan group of two dozen lawmakers at his official residence.

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