Gov. Kelly, GOP leader to unveil Kansas Medicaid expansion plan

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, February 2014.

Updated story

Jan. 9, 2020 — Bipartisan deal breaks impasse on expanding Medicaid in Kansas

TOPEKA — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and a top Republican legislator are preparing to unveil a bipartisan plan for expanding Medicaid in Kansas.

Kelly’s office scheduled a Statehouse news conference for Thursday morning with Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. The governor and Denning, an Overland Park Republican, have been working for weeks toward a compromise on providing Medicaid health coverage for up to 150,000 additional people.

Legislators open their annual session Monday. Kelly said in an interview last week that she is confident lawmakers would pass something “we will all be able to live with.”

“Discussions about a plan for Medicaid expansion have been ongoing,” Kelly spokeswoman Lauren Fitzgerald said in an email Wednesday. “Details will be available at Thursday’s press conference.”

Kelly has advocated a straightforward expansion of the state’s $3.8 billion-a-year Medicaid program under the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act championed by former President Barack Obama. Thirty-six states have expanded Medicaid.

The Kansas House passed an expansion plan last year, but top Republicans blocked it in the Senate, questioning its potential cost.

In October, Denning proposed an alternative that would allow the state to pursue a more modest expansion and increase tobacco taxes to finance a program for pushing down private health insurance premiums.

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