The Kansas House has approved a bill that would expand the Medicaid health care program in Kansas to include people making 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Expanding KanCare would potentially offer health insurance for thousands of low-income Kansans.
The legislation passed on an 81-44 vote, but must still go through the Senate and face a possible veto from Governor Sam Brownback, who has been a critic of Medicaid expansion.
Republican Representative Susan Concannon says supporters are not deterred.
“I can’t worry about what’s going to happen in the Senate or what the governor might do. We just have to keep pushing forward,” says Concannon.
Concannon says "It feels great" to have the bill advance after the issue looked like it had stalled.
Supporters of expansion say it provides health care at a relatively low cost to the state and would help struggling health care facilities. Critics of Medicaid expansion say costs to the state could balloon in the future.
Republican Representative Dan Hawkins opposed the measure. He pointed to potential changes to the Affordable Care Act at the federal level.
"We know that Medicaid changes are coming," says Hawkins. "Expansion will be unsustainable."
When the bill comes to the Senate, Senate President Susan Wagle says she'll send it to the health committee for consideration.
"We'll see what the committee decides," says Wagle.