The Democrat governor of Kansas is pushing to expand Medicaid in the state despite the Republican-controlled legislature’s efforts to prevent it, the Associated Press reported.
Governor Laura Kelly is battling Republican supermajorities that have made income tax cuts and reining in property taxes a priority in their annual session this year.
The governor plans to go on the offensive, hitting Republicans who oppose Medicaid expansion during this year’s legislative elections, a move that runs counter to her claim of being a bipartisan problem-solver.
As part of her effort, Kelly has been touring the state holding roundtable discussions and press conferences to drum up support for expanding Medicaid.
Kansas is one of only ten states that have refused to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives in the state have resisted the move. Late last year, state Senate President Ty Masterson and state House Speaker Dan Hawkins criticized Kelly’s statewide events, describing them as her “Welfare Express Tour” designed to drum up support for “more government dependency.”
Currently, childless, able-bodied adults in Kansas do not qualify for Medicaid. But under Kelly’s proposed Medicaid expansion, they would.
To appeal to Republican voters, Governor Kelly would require those who qualify for Medicaid to annually verify their income.
Kelly’s plan would increase the state’s Medicaid program by about $1.35 billion a year, a 31 percent increase. However, most of the added cost would be covered by federal funds, with Kansas imposing additional fees on private health insurance companies and hospitals to make up the rest.
To get the hold-out states to expand Medicaid, the federal government has been offering a financial bonus by way of additional federal funding.
It was the offer of $1.8 billion over two years that prompted Republican lawmakers in North Carolina to approve the state’s Medicaid expansion that was signed into law by Democrat Governor Roy Cooper in March 2023.
Governor Kelly’s office said the state would likely receive a total federal bonus of between $370 million and $450 million if her Medicaid expansion plan succeeds.