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New Push for Medicaid Expansion in Kansas: What You Need to Know About the Work Requirement

As the upcoming legislative session looms in Topeka, Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly persists in keeping Medicaid expansion at the forefront of her agenda. 

Despite her efforts, a proposed plan, complete with a work requirement aimed at garnering Republican support, faces strong resistance from GOP leadership in the Kansas House and Senate.

Kansans Favor It, but Political Stalemate Persists

Kansas stands among the ten states yet to expand Medicaid in any form, with the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature as a significant impediment to progress. 

Surveys underscore that a majority of Kansans support the expansion of Medicaid, making the political deadlock all the more perplexing.

Governor Kelly’s recent proposal seeks to extend coverage to individuals and families with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, equivalent to around $34,000 for a family of three. 

However, the plan introduces a work requirement, both for initial application and to maintain coverage during 12-month renewals.

Kelly contends that the proposal is revenue-neutral for Kansas, with 90 percent of the expansion costs covered by federal funds, supplemented by a future hospital surcharge. 

Despite these assurances, GOP leaders remain staunchly opposed, viewing Medicaid expansion as an unwarranted expansion of government.

Emporia State Professor of Political Science Michael Smith, sheds light on the political landscape, stating, “They see [Medicaid expansion] as an expansion of government, and through committee assignments and overseeing how bills move through the process, they have made sure it doesn’t get passed.”

Bipartisanship surfaces on this issue, particularly in rural Kansas, where the impact of Medicaid expansion is seen as crucial. 

Smith notes that many rural constituents and hospitals would benefit, potentially preventing the closure of rural hospitals.

Advocacy groups argue that expansion would address the healthcare coverage gap, benefiting those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but lack access to private health insurance subsidies. 

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas emphasizes that Medicaid expansion is not about cash payments but instead providing access to affordable healthcare.

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Uncertain Fate of Medicaid Expansion

As the upcoming legislative session looms in Topeka, Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly persists in keeping Medicaid expansion at the forefront of her agenda.

April Holman, Executive Director of Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, illustrates the dilemma by citing the example of a family of three, emphasizing that many Kansans without kids currently have limited options for affordable healthcare.

The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas is gearing up for the legislative session, engaging with local governments, collecting stories from Kansans, and hosting a roundtable in Wichita on December 20 to discuss expansion and its intersection with behavioral health.

While the expansion plan finds support from some county sheriffs due to its potential to assist with healthcare costs for inmates, Republican leadership remains firm in advocating for more options in private insurance over government intervention.

As the political standoff continues, the fate of Medicaid expansion in Kansas remains uncertain, leaving many Kansans in the healthcare coverage gap anxiously awaiting a resolution.

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