Today, Governor Laura Kelly announced the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion. This Council of legislators, policy experts, advocates, stakeholders and community leaders will spearhead the Medicaid expansion efforts in the 2020 legislative session.

The members of the Council and their current positions are listed below:

Tom Bell – President and CEO, Kansas Hospital Association

Sen. Ed Berger – State Senator, District 34

Rep. Susan Concannon – State Representative, District 107

Denise Cyzman – CEO, Community Care Network of Kansas

Ximena Garcia M.D., Community Health Advocate

Cathy Harding – President and CEO, Wyandotte Health Foundation

Rep. Don Hineman – State Representative, District 118

April Holman – Executive Director, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas

Dave Kerr, former president of the Kansas Senate

Kyle Kessler – Executive Director, Association of Community Mental Health Centers

Sen. Carolyn McGinn – State Senator, District 31

Rep. Monica Murnan – State Representative, District 3

Dr. Lee Norman – Secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

David K. Livingston – CEO, Aetna Better Health of Kansas

Sen. Pat Pettey – State Senator, District 6

Rep. Jason Probst – State Representative, District 102

Jerry Slaughter – Interim Executive Director, Kansas Medical Society

Kevin Sparks – CEO, United Health Community Plan for Kansas

Michael Stephens – President and CEO, Sunflower Health Plan

Sen. Gene Suellentrop – State Senator, District 27

Suzanne Wikle – Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy

Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore – State Representative, District 36

The following remarks are from Governor Laura Kelly delivered Wednesday, September 4th at the press conference on Medicaid expansion:

Good afternoon.

It’s hard to believe, but in just four months, another legislative session will be upon us. Every legislative session offers its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, and 2020 will be no different.

For the last several months I’ve been working with my administration to begin planning for the year ahead.

Many of those plans are still in development, but one piece of my 2020 agenda is a certainty:

I am going to do everything in my power to ensure this will be the year we will finally expand Medicaid in Kansas.

When I traveled around the state last fall, Kansans made it clear that this is a high priority. They want as many Kansans as possible to have access to affordable, high-quality health care. They want our hospitals supported, and they want the jobs Medicaid expansion will bring.

Medicaid expansion isn’t just a matter of smart health care policy. It is smart fiscal policy. It is smart economic policy. It is smart public policy.

I’ve stood at this podium many times over the last year explaining why Medicaid expansion makes sense for Kansas. I won’t repeat those arguments again today.

Instead, I’m here to talk about how we can finally bring this over the finish line.

As you all are aware, I put forward a proposal to expand Medicaid on Kansas Day last year. I continue to believe that proposal was the simplest, most commonsense path forward – a plan that includes measures that promote self-sufficiency, a plan that includes safeguards to protect against exorbitant spending, and a plan that can be implemented effectively without undue costs or administrative burden.

The House also took a position and passed a bill very similar to the one I offered, with very few amendments.

And this fall, the Senate will finally begin its work on the interim committee to start drafting its own plan.

This is finally a step in the right direction.

But one thing concerns me as this work gets underway.

Although Medicaid expansion has been at the top of voters’ minds for several years, the issue has received no formal committee review or vetting process in well over two years. Much has changed in that time, both federally and at the state level.

For starters, we have a new President and, therefore, a new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator. The CMS administrator gets the final say on how states can amend their Medicaid systems.

Obviously, we have a new governor, in addition to many recently-elected legislators who are diving into this issue for the first time. Several additional states have implemented expansion, with varying degrees of success, and an abundance of new data have been collected.

The landscape has undeniably shifted. And the one benefit Kansas can leverage as a late-expansion state is the lessons learned from those who went before us. It is critical that we do this.

To that end, today I will sign Executive Order 19-10, creating the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion.

The Council will bring together both new and veteran voices on Medicaid expansion and will be charged with supporting legislative efforts to find the best version of Medicaid expansion for Kansas.

This Council will not develop or endorse new legislation. Rather, I’ve asked them to study the costs and benefits associated with expansion models in other states.

It will be facilitated by a national, nonpartisan policy expert from the National Governors Association, and they will meet three times before the end of the year to explore these issues.

By studying other state models for expansion, I am hoping we can avoid repeating some of the expensive, unnecessary mistakes made in other states.

While I hope the Council will be able to identify 3 to 5 guideposts or goals for responsible expansion in Kansas, it will not develop new legislation.

This Council will serve solely as an educational, transparent forum for public discussion, in a broader setting than can be achieved in an interim committee.

These discussions will be an important supplement to legislative work that is already underway. The experiences of the 36 other states that already moved forward with expansion varied widely depending on what shape each state plan took – particularly in the early phases of implementation.

That’s why this Council is necessary.

We know not all models for expansion are created equal. We must carefully study other state approaches and outcomes so that our final Kansas plan balances our unique needs with evidence-based best practices.

I want to thank every legislator, policy expert, advocate and community leader who has accepted our invitation. We want to hear everyone’s voice.

We want a thorough, honest discussion.

I am deeply committed to working with the Legislature to find a bipartisan solution. I want these Council members to ask the hard questions …  to come up with a plan that works for all Kansans.

It’s the only way to get things done, and done right.

Let’s work together to figure out how we can best serve Kansans, get them the access they need to affordable health care, and bring Kansas dollars back to Kansas.

I look forward to collaborating with this Council and to, finally, bring Medicaid expansion to Kansas.

With that, I’ll sign Executive Order 19-10. Afterward, I’ll take a couple of questions.