Governor Kelly Unveils Middle-of-the-Road Medicaid Expansion Legislation 

~~Proposes Expanding Medicaid at No Additional Cost to Kansas Taxpayers~~ 

HOLTON – Today at Holton Hospital, Governor Laura Kelly unveiled the Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act to expand Medicaid, a state and federal health insurance program, to an estimated 150,000 Kansans at no additional cost to state taxpayers. The commonsense legislative proposal builds on previous bipartisan Medicaid Expansion proposals to address Republican concerns, including by making the bill revenue-neutral.  

The introduction of this legislation follows the months-long “Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy” tour in which the Governor rallied healthcare workers, farmers and ranchers, business leaders, faith leaders, and rural Kansans across the state in support of Medicaid Expansion. The bill would expand health coverage to working Kansans who currently make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t receive health insurance through work or make too little to afford private health insurance. 

“Each year I’ve been in office, I have introduced a bill to expand Medicaid with support from both sides of the aisle. This year, we’re going a step further to meet Republicans in the middle, putting forward a plan that would cut healthcare costs, create jobs, and grow our economy – all at no additional cost for Kansas taxpayers,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “We have taken such a bipartisan approach to incorporate what I’ve been hearing from Kansans during my tour and to reflect conversations we’ve had with Republican lawmakers. Now, there’s no excuse – at this point, every legislator standing in the way of Medicaid expansion is going against a commonsense, fiscally responsible proposal that benefits their constituents.”

“As Governor Kelly’s ‘Healthy Workers, Healthy Economy’ tour highlighted, Medicaid expansion is an obvious solution to provide healthcare to hardworking Kansans and to support our hospitals,” said Ed O’Malley, President and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. “We appreciate that, by putting forward this measured proposal, Governor Kelly is clearly working to bring Republicans to the table. That’s what’s needed to get Medicaid expanded in Kansas.” 

Addressing key Republican concerns, the Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act: 

Comes at no additional cost to Kansas taxpayers. The federal government pays for 90% of the costs to expand Medicaid, while states pay 10%. Under this proposal, the state’s 10% share is completely covered by drug rebates, a hospital fee, savings from higher reimbursement rates for existing Medicaid recipients, and additional federal funding. This does not include expected additional revenue from Kansas businesses boosted by a healthier workforce or reduced state expenditures on incarceration and state services because of a healthier population. 

“My goal is to ensure Kansans’ tax dollars never go to waste, which is why I support this approach to expanding Medicaid,” said Kansas Senator Carolyn McGinn. “Right now, Kansans’ federal tax dollars are going to support hospitals and jobs in states like New York, California and every state adjacent to us instead of being invested in the people of Kansas.” 

“It makes no sense to me that, while 40 other states have expanded Medicaid, we have not. Our tax dollars are going to every one of our neighboring states, while healthcare costs rise and hospitals close here in Kansas,” said Kansas Representative Dave Younger. “By including a work requirement and making sure Kansas taxpayers won’t pay for Medicaid expansion, this proposal addresses many of the concerns my Republican colleagues have had. Now, those in leadership positions need to let this topic be debated and voted on.” 

Grows the Kansas workforce. This compromise proposal goes a step further than Governor Kelly’s other Medicaid Expansion proposals by including a work requirement for Medicaid enrollees to ensure Kansas’ workforce remains strong. There will be exceptions to this requirement, including for full-time students, full-time caretakers, veterans, and Kansans with medical conditions.  

The bill will also reduce uncompensated care costs – the costs healthcare providers take on when uninsured patients can’t afford to pay a medical bill — which will allow providers to compete for healthcare workers in an environment in which all the states surrounding Kansas have now expanded Medicaid. 

“This proposal addresses a lot of the concerns I’ve heard from Republican colleagues by including a work requirement and multiple funding streams to ensure Kansas taxpayers won’t foot the bill for Medicaid expansion,” said Kansas Senator John Doll. “I urge my Republican colleagues to join me in supporting this bill to ensure our rural hospitals stay open, to cut healthcare costs and lower taxes, and to get affordable healthcare to more working Kansans.” 

Improves public safety. For too long, prisons and jails have been shouldering the burden of providing medical care to uninsured inmates at their own expense. Governor Kelly worked with the law enforcement community to include this provision so that law enforcement can redirect those resources to focus on keeping Kansans safe. This would also reduce pressure on local governments to increase property taxes for correctional healthcare costs. 

“This bill provides relief for county jails like the Sedgwick County Jail, which have been burdened with covering the high costs of health care for uninsured inmates,” said Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeffrey Easter. “If this part of the expansion proposal were to pass, it would cut down on expenses for local taxpayers and ease up resources so our law enforcement can focus on public safety.”  

“I support expanding Medicaid with this provision to include health coverage for recently admitted inmates,” said Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister. “We have seen benefits and cost savings in working with local providers for having health care rates that match Medicaid. Doing so takes the financial and administrative burden of providing that care off counties and keeps our attention focused on our top priority: public safety.” 

Language for the proposed Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansas Act is available here. 

Background information about the proposed Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act is available here. 

Photos from the press conference for media use are available here: