Medicaid expansion plan in Kansas dilutes ‘poison pill’

Advisers suggested a one-word change
Medicaid expansion plan in Kansas dilutes ‘poison pill’

A “poison pill” in Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan for expanding Medicaid aimed at reassuring wary Republican legislators wouldn’t actually end the expansion if the federal government backed off its promises to cover most of the cost.

Kelly has said her proposal is based on an expansion plan that passed in 2017 with large, bipartisan legislative majorities, only to be vetoed by Kansas’ then-conservative GOP Gov. Sam Brownback. But the new Democratic governor’s “working group” of Medicaid advisers suggested a key, one-word change when it comes to what would happen if the federal government backed off its commitment to cover 90 percent of the expansion.

The 2017 bill said the state “shall” end expanded Medicaid health coverage for tens of thousands of Kansas residents if the federal government drops its funding percentage. Kelly’s proposal says the state “may” end expansion – meaning she or a future governor could opt to continue with less federal money.

Top Republicans remain adamantly opposed to Medicaid expansion, viewing it as costly to the state despite the promised federal funding, and no committee has had a hearing on Kelly’s specific proposal.

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