Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion holds final meeting before session begins

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Lawmakers are looking for a solution to expand the state’s Medicaid system.

Government officials have high hopes heading into the session after the final meeting of the Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion wrapped up.

Governor Laura Kelly formed the group after failing to get Medicaid expansion passed in her first year. It could provide government assistance to more than 130,000 Kansans.

Last year, the House passed an expansion plan, but it wasn’t voted on in the Senate. Also, since the session ended Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning introduced a new plan.

“You have two proposals on the table, the Senate plan as well as the House plan,” said Hutchinson Senator Ed Berger. “How we can perhaps link those two together and come up with a process and a bill, legislation that’s beneficial to Kansans.”

“I think that we’ve got to get a plan that is reflective of Kansans and Kansans’ needs. And that’s what this is all about, doing the best thing for Kansas,” Berger said.

There are some that believe Senator Denning’s plan is too complicated since it involves waivers and that it could take too long to be put in place.

“Keep the initial one simple, make it understandable and user-friendly to the people you want to have gain the access and work broadly with your provider community,” said Diane Rowland, a national Medicaid expert for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Governor Kelly shared concerns about Denning’s bill.

“As CEO of the state I am concerned about putting in provisions in the bill that would create administrative nightmares for my agencies,” Kelly said. “They’ve got enough to do, they don’t need to be caught up in a bunch of unnecessary paperwork.”

The council will make recommendations to the governor in early January that focus on getting as many people covered as possible, as quickly as possible.

“I’m very confident that we will get Medicaid expanded and will get expanded right for the state of Kansas, Kelly said.

But it remains to be seen what type of bill that legislative leadership will put to a vote next year.

A third bill was also proposed by Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley last month that is similar to the House bill but could reduce monthly fees for Medicaid recipients.

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