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Kansas Medicaid Expansion Won't Happen in 2019

by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker

The Kansas Senate adjourned May 4th without approving Governor Laura Kelly's plan for Medicaid Expansion. What does this mean? It means Medicaid expansion won't happen in 2019.

“The House had passed Medicaid expansion over in their chamber,” explains SKIL Systems Advocacy Manager Lou Ann Kibbee. “The problem arose in the Senate, where they couldn't get the votes.”

So, what is Medicaid expansion? According to Alliance for a Healthy Kansas Director April Holman (quoted in The Wichita Eagle), expansion would benefit people who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little for subsidies. “KanCare expansion is a common sense policy that the state of Kansas needs to adopt,” she says.

“Expansion would benefit a lot of people,” says Kibbee. “There are people with low-paying jobs out there who don't have health insurance provided through their employment. One of these low-paying jobs is the personal care attendants who work for the people with disabilities in their homes. They help us get up everyday and help us get dressed, cook meals, whatever. The wages for those workers are not very high. So, they would definitely benefit from Medicaid expansion.

“There are also people with disabilities who are working part-time,” she says. “But they can't qualify for Medicaid because they're making too much money, but they're not making enough money to reach that marketplace income level.”

While Medicaid expansion is dead for 2019, it could happen next year. Majority Leader Senator Jim Denning promised to install an interim bipartisan committee that will produce a plan for expansion. “He says he's committed to bringing a bill back in January when the legislature returns,” explains Kibbee. “So, we'll see. I think a lot of people right now are questioning what this will accomplish given that there have already been a number of studies.”