The proposed bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan unveiled last week by Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and Sen. Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, is groundbreaking.
At least we are presented with an expansion plan that’s sensible and provides concessions on both sides.
Previous attempts to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in Kansas have been thwarted to the point that it almost seemed impossible.
We are pleased to see leadership from both sides of the aisles working to find a compromise. If this effort comes together, as many as 150,000 low-income Kansans will gain eligibility for government-sponsored health care — many of whom cannot afford health care otherwise. For the sake of those Kansans, we hope lawmakers take this seriously and consider supporting this legislation.
Last Thursday’s announcement of the plan drew support from the Kansas Hospital Association, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas and the University of Kansas Health System. Even Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, a Republican from Emporia, seems to think it has some promise.
“Overall,” Longbine told the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tim Carpenter, “Medicaid expansion is extremely important to the lower-income, working-poor uninsured Kansans. It’s also extremely important to our hospitals and our providers.”
We agree Senator.
Critics of the plan include the Kansas Chamber and Americans for Prosperity, Senate President Susan Wagle and Andover Sen. Ty Masterson. Masterson went as far as to say it was a political betrayal by Denning. That seems a unfair, especially considering the Republican-controlled Housed passed an expansion bill just last year. Clearly, Republicans have an interest in expanding Medicaid as well.
We concede the plan isn’t perfect and there are still a few more questions that need to be raised. For instance, which adults will actually qualify? The wording doesn’t exactly specify at this time. The goal is to expand access to health care in Kansas. Additionally, attaching premiums restricts that goal and adds administrative costs for the state.
Denning has proposed perhaps the highest premiums anywhere in the country. The 2019 House plan includes lifetime lockouts for failed payments. This is an area that needs attention when lawmakers try to negotiate a compromise between the two bills.
However, none of these criticisms seem insurmountable. In the spirit of compromise, we hope lawmakers find a way to get this bill to Gov. Kelly’s desk.