MM Curator summary
[MM Curator Summary]: The KS governor facing re-election is making the normal expansion promises: “free” federal money, jobs and saving rural hospitals.
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FILE – The Kansas Statehouse stands against the sky as the sun sets in the distance Monday, April 27, 2020, in Topeka, Kan.(Charlie Riedel | AP)
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Governor Laura Kelly is hoping to make good on her 2018 campaign promise to expand Medicaid with new legislation introduced on Wednesday.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly says on Wednesday, Feb. 9, she announced legislation to expand Medicaid – KanCare – to provide over 150,000 Kansans with access to affordable healthcare.
Gov. Kelly said the move would also create over 23,000 new jobs to strengthen the state’s economy.
“Expanding Medicaid so that thousands of hard-working Kansans have access to affordable health care would boost the Kansas economy,” Kelly said. “Expansion would inject billions of dollars into our state, create thousands of jobs, help retain our healthcare workers in Kansas —and help rural hospitals’ bottom lines. It’s time to work together to deliver for Kansans and get this done once and for all.”
Under the proposed bill, Medicaid would expand to cover Kansans who earn up to the full 138% of the Federal Poverty Level starting on Jan. 1, 2023.
Gov. Kelly said about 90% of the expansion would be paid by the federal government.
Furthermore, Kelly said if Medicaid is expanded, Kansas is poised to get an additional $370 million over the next eight fiscal quarters for the current enrollees. She said that is a total of $68.5 million in State General Fund savings in the Fiscal Year 2023 alone, which will be reallocated for a one-time investment in housing, childcare and workforce development.
A 2022 statewide survey found 78% of Kansans support Medicaid expansion to allow for more residents to qualify for coverage.
“The list of reasons to expand Medicaid grows with every year we refuse to do so,” said Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes. “This wildly popular policy will ensure we have a healthy workforce, create jobs, and attract businesses. More importantly, it will allow our fellow Kansans to flourish and participate fully in our state, which brings prosperity for all of us. The first best time to expand Medicaid was in 2014. The next best time is now.”
Kelly said this is not only the right thing to do for Kansas, but it is incredibly popular among all political parties.
“Expanding Medicaid is enormously popular among Kansas and addresses many issues facing the state. First and foremost, it is a pro-business, pro-growth policy,” said House Democratic Leader Tom Sawyer. “Throughout the legislative session, people repeatedly ask what we can do to keep our college graduates in the state and bring in outside business investment. Medicaid expansion is a clear solution with bipartisan voter support. It’s past time to embrace this common-sense policy.”
According to the Governor, expanding Medicaid in the Sunflower State would boost the economy by:
- Providing affordable health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Kansans
- Stimulate the economy for rural, suburban, and urban communities alike
- Create tens of thousands of new jobs
- Inject billions of dollars in increased economic output
- Retain health care jobs in Kansas
The bill would require the Secretary of Health and Environment to gather data from applicants about employment history through the Medicaid application. Unemployed or underemployed Kansans will be referred to the Department of Commerce or Department of Children and Family Services to help the applicant find job opportunities.
In 2021, a Medicaid expansion amendment to SB 238, which died on general orders on May 21. A day before the bill died, Gov. Kelly vetoed SB 29 which would have provided short-term health plans because a solution to the problem fixed by the bill would have been to expand Medicaid instead.
In September she sent a letter to Congressional leadership to again urge them to pass Medicaid expansion legislation.
In January, House Democrats said they introduced a Medicaid expansion amendment to the Kansas Constitution, as well as one to legalize marijuana recreationally and medicinally. In February 2021, Kelly even proposed Medicad expansion be funded by the legalization of marijuana.
Medicaid expansion was a promise Kelly ran on in her campaign for Governor in 2018.