Kansas Advanced Practice Nurses Association - KAPN

Medicaid Expansion Update

Posted 3 months ago

The following statement is from Governor Laura  Kelly regarding the passage of Medicaid expansion by the Kansas House of  Representatives:
“Today a bipartisan coalition in the Kansas House  put politics aside and came together to pass Medicaid expansion. I’m proud of  their work – and the work of so many advocates and citizens who worked  tirelessly to make their voices heard on this issue.
“Medicaid expansion is one of the most critical  issues impacting our state’s future. It will allow up to 150,000 more Kansans  access to affordable healthcare, support local hospitals and clinics, and impact  our economy for the better.
“Over 70 percent of Kansans support Medicaid  expansion. I encourage the Kansas Senate to join me, this bipartisan coalition,  business leaders and the overwhelming majority of Kansans in support of Medicaid  expansion. The time for blocking progress has long since passed. Now is the time  to expand Medicaid.”
By Sherman Smith - Topeka  Capitol-Journal
Updated Mar 20, 2019 at 7:08 PM
Lawmakers in the Kansas House broke a stranglehold on Medicaid  expansion movement and gave first-round approval Wednesday to a plan to extend  health care coverage to 130,000 low-income Kansans.
Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, D-Kansas City, put the  plan in play by gutting legislation crafted by House Majority Leader Dan  Hawkins, a Wichita Republican and outspoken opponent of Medicaid expansion, and  securing enough bipartisan support to overcome a rules objection.
GOP leadership throughout the session has blocked  a Medicaid expansion bill from getting a hearing, and Wolfe Moore said her  amendment on the floor was the only way to secure a debate on the  issue.
“Today is most definitely the day to stand with  the people of Kansas,” Wolfe Moore said.
The Kansas Health Institute estimates expansion  would have a $47.4 million impact on the state budget in 2020. The federal  government would assume 90 percent of the costs for those served by KanCare, as  Medicaid is known in Kansas, including the 416,000 seniors, children of  low-income families, disabled adults and pregnant women already in the  system.
The House advanced the expansion package on a  70-54 vote. A final action vote will be needed to pass the bill and send it to  the Senate.
“This was a rare demonstration of political  bravery in the House,” said Rep. Brett Parker, D-Overland Park. “Kansans are  better off for the bipartisan coalition that cast aside partisan obstruction to  deliver a desperately needed policy.”
Republicans succeeded in modifying Wolfe Moore’s  plan to ban coverage of abortion procedures and require monthly fees for those  who sign up.
Rep. John Eplee, R-Atchison, proposed a $25 per  month service cost, with a $100 cap for a single household, as an alternative to  work requirements favored by some Republicans. Eplee said the fees could produce  enough revenue to fully offset the state’s financial obligation.
“I think this is a reasonable compromise,” Eplee  said.
The prohibition on abortion services, introduced by Rep. Susan Humphries,  R-Wichita, doesn’t provide exceptions for rape, incest or saving the life of a  mother, as federal law does.
The long-anticipated debate over Medicaid expansion unfolded after Hawkins  objected to the obliteration of his bill, which dealt with nursing  qualifications. A majority vote allowed the debate to proceed.
Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, cautioned lawmakers about the “huge  impact” Medicaid expansion is sure to have on the state budget. He said there  was no question the federal government eventually will dial back its financial  support for the program.
“When you see me in five years,” Huebert said, “I’ll wish you the best on  whatever cuts you’re making.”
Wolfe Moore’s plan includes a “poison pill” provision that authorizes the  Kansas Department of Health and Environment to back out of expansion if the  federal match rate drops below 90 percent.
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, said the “poison pill” provision won’t  have an effect because it would be politically untenable for the Legislature to  take away health care coverage after the plan passes.
As chairwoman of the health committee, Landwehr hasn’t held a hearing on  Medicaid expansion legislation. Instead, Landwehr held three days of roundtable  discussions on the issue.
Landwehr questioned Wolfe Moore on the details of the plan for 40 minutes  and urged lawmakers not to rush when unanswered questions remain.
“We’re not done this week,” Landwehr said. “There are discussions going on.  This isn’t the last vehicle out of there.”
Rep. Jim Kelly, R-Independence, said he found it hard to believe the magic  answer will appear next week. He said he supports Medicaid expansion after  seeing the chaos in his town when its hospital closed.
Kelly said elderly residents struggled to figure out what to do while they  watched doctors leave town.
“Let’s move forward and try to put something positive in place for Kansas,  and in particular for those of us who live in rural Kansas,” Kelly  said.