Kansas lawmakers have failed to work together to achieve something more than 70% of Kansans want: Expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
The Legislature passed expansion in 2017. Although the Medicaid expansion legislation passed by a wide margin in both chambers, it was a few votes shy of a veto-proof majority. Governor Sam Brownback vetoed it.
Lawmakers looked at Medicaid expansion again in 2018 but a bill did not pass. In 2019, it passed in the House but failed in the Senate. It failed in 2020 and died in a house committee in 2022.
HealthInsurance reports, “Kansas is one of just a dozen states where the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid still has not been implemented as of 2022. As a result, the state has an estimated 45,000 low-income residents who are stuck in the “coverage gap,” meaning that they earn too little to qualify for subsidized private health coverage, but are also ineligible for Medicaid because the state has refused to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid.” Those people have no realistic access to health insurance without Medicaid expansion, according to Louise Norris, health insurance and health reform authority.
Norris also notes that 443,921 Kansans were covered by Medicaid/CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) as of May 2021 but 145,000 additional Kansas residents would be covered if the state accepted expansion.
Under Medicaid expansion, Kansas would pay 10% of the cost and the federal government would pay 90%. Kansas is leaving $1.3 billion in federal money on the table in 2022 by not expanding Medicaid.
The Docking Institute of Public Policy’s latest Kansas Speaks Survey of public opinion shows that support for Medicaid expansion in Kansas in 2022 was 72%, similar to the 73% support registered in the 2021 survey.
When will our lawmakers step up and do what more than 70% of their constituents want?