KanCare Expansion Supporters Muscle Bill Through Kansas House

A bill to expand Medicaid in Kansas is likely dead after House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. indicated he wouldn't revive it.

House members gave first-round approval to the bill on a voice vote.

The bill would have expanded Medicaid to non-elderly adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The bill will now move to the Senate for possible consideration. The federal government would pay for most of the costs. Thirty-one other states, about half with Republican governors, have expanded Medicaid. The Education Committee Chairman had refused to hold a vote on the tenure bill, and an upcoming deadline for bills to pass their chamber of origin could have killed it.

Rep. Brandon Whipple, a Democrat from Wichita, said he voted against the measure because it would make it harder for candidates who don't have wealthy friends to get elected.

Rep. Susan Concannon, a Beloit Republican, said the move to table deceived new legislators, who may not have understood they were killing the bill.

The amendment that passed 68 to 54 requires due process when a teacher's contract is terminated, which supporters say protects teachers from wrongful termination but does not shield bad teachers.

"I'm just speechless because it was such an underhanded move", she said.

The Kansas House of Representatives took a surprise step to expand Medicaid, despite the federal government's ongoing negotiations over repealing Obamacare and, to some degree, its enlargement of the Medicaid program.

Advocates said they weren't giving up pushing for Medicaid expansion, but they acknowledged their chances were slimmer. Supporters amended another bill to include the expansion of the health program. Hospitals and health groups have pushed for the state to expand eligibility to more than 150,000 Kansans under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

"Think if your town was Independence, Kansas, and you were living not the dream but the nightmare of a hospital closing", Kelly said.

Rep. John Eplee, a Republican from Atchison and a family physician, said he wanted to "put a real live face" on the issue by talking about three of his patients, two of whom died because they waited too long to seek care.

David Kensinger, a lobbyist and Gov. Sam Brownback's former chief of staff, told the Topeka Capital-Journal this week that he favors no limits on individual donations, because that would allow incumbent candidates to spend less time fundraising.

  • Leroy Wright