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Kansas House Approves Medicaid Expansion Bill, Sending It To The Senate

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas House has approved a bill that would expand the Medicaid health care program in Kansas to include people making 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Expanding KanCare would potentially offer health insurance for thousands of low-income Kansans.

The legislation passed on an 81-44 vote, but must still go through the Senate and face a possible veto from Gov. Sam Brownback, who has been a critic of Medicaid expansion. Republican Rep. Susan Concannon says supporters are not deterred.

“I can’t worry about what’s going to happen in the Senate or what the governor might do. We just have to keep pushing forward,” Concannon said.

Concannon said "it feels great" to have the bill advance after the issue looked like it had stalled.

Supporters of expansion say it provides health care at a relatively low cost to the state and would help struggling health care facilities. Critics of Medicaid expansion say costs to the state could balloon in the future.

Republican Rep. Dan Hawkins opposed the measure. He pointed to potential changes to the Affordable Care Act at the federal level.

"We know that Medicaid changes are coming," Hawkins said. "Expansion will be unsustainable."

Senate President Susan Wagle said she’ll send the bill to the health committee for consideration in that chamber.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.