by Andy Rausch and Joe Reinecker
The Kansas legislature convened on June third for a special session to finish work they had not done previously. This session was called by Governor Laura Kelly.
“Kansas ADAPT has considered the expansion of Medicaid as one of the biggest issues of work left undone in Kansas,” explains Ami Hyten of Kansas ADAPT. “Expansion would cover 130,000 to 150,000 Kansans, including people with disabilities and the direct support workers who keep us in the community.”
In preparation for the legislature's return, Kansas ADAPT, a branch of the national grass roots organization that organizes disability rights advocates to engage in nonviolent direct action, urged their members across the state to reach out to their representatives to remind them of the need for Medicaid expansion. Particularly the House, whom Kansas ADAPT believed had the opportunity to reintroduce a bill they had introduced previously.
“As we've done for the past year or so, Kansas ADAPT was there to meet and greet Kansas legislators as they came in to do their work (at the capitol) that morning,” Hyten says. “We dropped several 12-foot banners from the portico over the entrance to the visitor's center, encouraging them to expand Medicaid now.”
While this wasn't at the parking garage where the legislators park (and where ADAPT has traditionally had a presence), it ensured that lobbyists and others entering the building were aware that (as Hyten says) “the people inside hadn't finished doing their work for Kansans.”
The group and the sign received lots of encouraging honks, waves, and thumbs up. Unfortunately, legislators were not moved, with the legislature being adjourned the following day.
“There was a House bill, and on a procedural motion, they did not take up debate and did not move the Medicaid expansion measure forward,” Hyten says. “So Medicaid expansion for this year, this legislative session, is dead and gone.”