Legislators hold first debate of the year on Medicaid expansion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Legislators are acting fast on top issues like abortion and Medicaid expansion this legislative session.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare committee began debating a new Medicaid expansion bill on Thursday.

The bill is a compromise between Governor Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. It could cover up-to 150,000 Kansans that struggle to afford healthcare.

Lawmakers went all of last year without having a formal debate on a Medicaid expansion bill.

The committee heard from proponents of the bill on Wednesday.

Those included Judy Davids-Cole. She’s an advocate for AARP Kansas. She said she’s glad the bill is being taken up.

“It’s really nice to see that there was a nonpartisan effort to come together and compromise to increase the health of all Kansans,” Davids-Cole said.

Davids-Cole said many of their members would benefit from expansion. She pointed to a segment of the population that is older than 50 and too young to get Medicare that is struggling to find coverage.

“We hear it constantly, even something like an emergency call to the emergency room is unaffordable to many of these people who are either not employed, or are employed by a part-time job, or a low paying job that doesn’t offer benefits,” Davids-Cole said.

Friday will be another day lawmakers hear from those that favor the bill. Opponents will get their chance to testify next week to tell lawmakers why they believe expansion shouldn’t happen.

If the bill is passed out of committee, it would head to the full Senate for a vote, and then head to the House.

In 2017, legislators passed a Medicaid expansion plan, but then Governor Sam Brownback vetoed it.

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