Kansas Medicaid expansion

TOPEKA, Kansas — The new Medicaid expansion bill, the product of a compromise between Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and some Republican leaders, would change how state prisons and county jails fund health care for prisoners.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and a key Republican lawmaker said Thursday they’ve crafted a deal to make roughly 130,000 more Kansans eligible for Medicaid.

TOPEKA, Kansas — A top Republican in the Kansas Senate said he’s designed a Medicaid expansion plan that aims to walk a fine line — one that can win over conservatives without losing support from moderate Republicans and Democrats.

But the proposal also risks satisfying neither faction.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning outlined a proposal this week that would grow the Medicaid health care plan to cover an added 150,000 or so low-income Kansans.

Aetna Better Health is struggling to keep its Medicaid contract with KanCare, to the point that state officials found fault with Aetna’s recent plan to improve services.

But Kansas lawmakers had two words this week for the company: Keep trying.

Laura Robeson quit her job as a fourth-grade teacher to care for her son, who has cerebral palsy and other health problems. But as politicians considered cuts to various health care programs, she felt compelled to become an activist, working with others to speak out for families like hers.

That culminated at the State of the Union Address in February. Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids chose Robeson to attend as her guest, providing a real-world example of the role federal healthcare policies play in a citizen's life.

A week ago, the Kansas legislative session concluded with Democrats and moderate Republicans mounting one last stand for a decisive vote on Medicaid expansion. It didn’t work. Nor did lawmakers ultimately consider a proposal to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Kansans. That had been a top priority for first-term House Democrat Brandon Woodard of Lenexa. As the session wound down, Woodard told Jim McLean of the Kansas News Service, it was disappointing, but not defeating.

A deal to clear the way for Medicaid expansion next year that some Kansas lawmakers thought they had brokered in the waning hours of their just-finished legislative session appears to be unraveling.

Instead, the conservative leaders and moderate rank-and-file Republicans find themselves splitting in an intra-party fight.

Supporters of expanding Medicaid in Kansas proved Wednesday they’ve got the votes in the Legislature — if they can get a vote.

But they lacked enough lawmakers on their side to bypass Republican leadership and force that vote.

Things were supposed to be different on the Medicaid expansion this year.

Expansion advocates thought Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s election would elevate the issue to center stage. They figured that would all but guarantee that Kansas would join the ranks of expansion states — now numbering 37 plus the District of Columbia.

But so far this legislative session it’s been déjà vu all over again.