Governor Kelly’s Bipartisan Medicaid Expansion Proposal Receives Hearing for the First Time in Four Years

~~More than 900 Written Testimonies Presented
in Support of Medicaid Expansion~~

TOPEKA— Today, Governor Laura Kelly’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion proposal, the Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act, was heard in the Kansas Legislature. This is the first time in four years that the legislature has allowed public debate on Medicaid expansion. More than 900 written testimonies were made in support of Medicaid expansion; 450 of which were submitted to the House and 463 to the Senate.

“Kansans across the state have overwhelmingly echoed the same message — they want Medicaid expansion,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “While the legislature has held hearings, it cannot stop there. The Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act must swiftly be debated on the floor and put up to a vote.”

The Cutting Healthcare Costs for All Kansans Act would increase access to health care for 150,000 Kansans while injecting $1.2 billion in annual federal funding into Kansas’ economy and creating 23,000 new jobs.

A joint session of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee held an informational hearing on Medicaid expansion, and the House Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing on HB 2556.

Republican state legislators from North Carolina, the most recent state to expand Medicaid, shared their perspective on how the state legislature worked together to implement Medicaid expansion with bipartisan support.

“Despite facing numerous obstacles, the North Carolina General Assembly tackled each challenge through ongoing dialogue and problem-solving,” said North Carolina State Senator Jim Burgin and North Carolina State Representative Donny Lambeth. “The state’s historic actions are anticipated to positively affect approximately 600,000 citizens, 80% of whom are employed but struggle to afford conventional employer-sponsored insurance. This endeavor promises an unparalleled economic impact for both the state and health care providers.”

Business leaders from across the state have expressed their support for Medicaid expansion, which would boost Kansas’ economy, create nearly 23,000 jobs, and reduce business owners’ health care-related costs. Billie Hall with the Sunflower Foundation shared the results of a recent statewide poll conducted by Neil Newhouse, a leading pollster and strategist for the Republican Party.

“The poll illustrates a growing sentiment among Kansans that Medicaid expansion is both a health care and economic issue, especially when viewed locally,” said Billie Hall, President and CEO of Sunflower Foundation. “Results showed 68% of registered voters, 51% of Republican primary voters, and 83% of small business owners favor expanding Medicaid in Kansas.”

Despite widespread public support, Kansas is one of 10 states that has yet to expand Medicaid. Supporters of the bill highlighted how the legislature’s failure to act has had negative effects on Kansas’ rural health system and limited access to lifesaving health care.

“The State of Kansas’ lack of expanding Medicaid has cost HaysMed more than $12,000,000 to date, and [this number] continues to rise,” said Edward Hermann, President and CEO of HaysMed. “These are dollars that are currently going to other states who have expanded Medicaid and have resulted in job creation and significant direct impact to the local economy.”

“The years during and after the pandemic have been financially devastating for Hutch Regional and the health system was forced to eliminate over 80 jobs in February of 2023,” said Benjamin Anderson, President and CEO of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System. “Our emergency department, which averages over 65 patients per day, has become a front door for our hospital as many of those patients do not have a way to access preventive care. Medicaid expansion would significantly improve our financial stability and allow us to develop a system that would ensure a healthy future for Reno County and the surrounding areas.”

“We need to stop waiting. Some of us cannot afford to wait. It has been 6 years since I first testified for Expansion,” said Marcelline Dover, a Wichita teacher diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis that was left untreated due to not having insurance. “I might not have gotten to the point of needing a wheelchair in my third year of teaching if Medicaid had been expanded right away when we had the chance. Plenty of people with Multiple Sclerosis can walk well into their 50s and even 60s. I made it to 26.”

The Senate’s informational hearing on Medicaid expansion can be watched here, and the hearing on House Bill 2556 can be watched here.