Governor Laura Kelly’s call for a bipartisan, Kansas-specific plan to expand Medicaid coverage took an important step forward Monday with the first meeting of the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion.
“Many Kansans struggle to cover the costs of basic health care. Some people can’t afford coverage at all. The status quo is not working for Kansans,” Kelly said. “No family should have to choose between health coverage and paying the mortgage.”
Medicaid expansion would provide access to affordable healthcare for approximately 150,000 Kansans who fall in the “coverage gap,” where an individual does not qualify for Medicaid, but does not make enough to afford healthcare.
In the 2019 legislative session, Governor Kelly presented a Medicaid expansion plan with bipartisan support that mirrored a similar bill that passed both chambers in 2017, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by then-Governor Sam Brownback.
Last session the House of Representatives passed the Governor’s bill, but the Senate did not allow a vote. Instead, the Senate promised to vote on a Medicaid expansion bill in the early months of the 2020 legislative session.
“As I’ve made clear, Medicaid expansion tops my 2020 priority list,” Kelly said. “I was encouraged that both chambers and both parties ended the last session in agreement: 2020 will be the year we finally get this done.
“After all the years Kansans have had to wait for Medicaid expansion, we must get this right.
“That’s why we need some kind of ‘compass’ to help prevent things from veering too far off course should unvetted, risky policies surface at the end of the process. I hope whatever you come up with can be used as one tool to help evaluate whether various ideas move us closer to — or further away from — our desired outcomes as a state.”
Governor Kelly asked the Council to focus on two questions:
- What do we need Medicaid expansion to achieve for Kansas?
- What can we learn from other expansion states that will help — or hinder — those goals?
“Good public policy is the product of thoughtful, bipartisan discussions, supported by data-driven decision-making. That’s the conversation I am asking this Council to have,” Kelly said.
Among discussed items during the initial Council meeting:
- A review of the Medicaid expansion landscape across the U.S., with a focus on the fiscal and health impacts associated with expansion as well the different policy levers used in implementation. Overall, expansion states saw a substantial decline in the uninsured rate for non-elderly adults, as well as improved financial and health outcomes for recipients.
- An overview of the Kansas Medicaid system, KanCare, and the promising impact of expansion on access to preventative and behavioral healthcare for low-income Kansans.
- Presentations by experts from Montana and Ohio on the economic and health outcomes associated with expansion. Montana found that Medicaid made it easier for residents to find work, generated about $30 million in yearly cost savings, and increased access to care for veterans and their families. Ohio saw similar benefits, noting expansion’s role increasing the state’s capacity for behavioral health services and decreasing medical debt for enrollees by half.
The Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion’s next meeting is Oct. 29.
For access to the handouts, slides, Executive Order and other materials, go to: https://governor.kansas.gov/council-on-medicaid-expansion/