by Ann Mah
The House and Senate passed an expansion of KanCare last week and the Governor quickly vetoed it. HB 2044 would provide KanCare (Medicaid) to an estimated 150,000 poor working Kansans who fall in the “insurance donut hole”. They make too much money to get KanCare now, and don’t make enough money to qualify for subsidies on the Obamacare/ACA health care exchange. These are folks working for minimum wage or so.
One of the key features of Obamacare was the expansion of Medicaid (known as KanCare in Kansas) for low-income earners. Medicaid costs are usually shared 60%/40% by the federal government and states respectively. Under the KanCare expansion, new recipients would be covered 90% by the federal government and 10% by the states. 31 states have taken the expansion. Supporters of the expansion note that the expansion has helped keep hospitals open, provides better care, and helped the state economy. (You can read more about the issue at www.expandkancare.com.) By not doing the expansion, Kansas hospitals and clinics doing emergency care for uninsured Kansans have lost over $1.7 billion in support. That is one reason why some are closing. Opponents said the state cannot afford any additional funds at this time and are concerned about what might happen with Obamacare in the future.
Governor Brownback has consistently opposed any expansion of Medicaid in Kansas. While the bill passed by a large margin it was not a “veto-proof” majority. It takes 2/3 of legislators in both the House and Senate to override that veto. It will likely be a very close vote.