Advocates hope Missouri Medicaid expansion vote is a sign of things to come in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Another state is moving forward with Medicaid expansion and advocates say it’s past time to do the same in Kansas.

Missouri is the latest state to vote to expand Medicaid. Now Kansas sits as one of 12 states that have not expanded.

At the beginning of the year, Medicaid expansion advocates were excited that a bipartisan expansion bill would get to the floors of the legislature for debate, but it never did. Both a constitutional amendment on abortion and the coronavirus outbreak stalled what happened in the legislature this year.

On Tuesday, Missouri voters approved expanding Medciad by a 53 to 46 percent margin.

To get the question on the ballot, Missourians started a petition, but in Kansas that’s not allowed.

Voters in Oklahoma passed a similar measure in June. Now all of Kansas’ bordering states already have or are going to expand Medicaid.

“That puts us as really an island,” said April Holman, executive director at the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas

In Kansas, the issue of whether to expand has to go through the legislature. Legislative leadership has blocked a vote in the past, but elections this year will bring new faces to the debate in 2021.

“Our work is cut out for us, but I think the Missouri vote and the Oklahoma vote will make a big difference particularly in building demand for expansion along our border communities as businesses and residents of those communities see the benefits in the neighboring states,” Holman said.

Holman said she is worried that new leadership next year could also be against expansion.

“Going forward we hope that there will be some more openness on the part of those opponents to expansion, to really listen to what their constituents are asking for,” Holman said.

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