Increased cigarette tax could help pay for Medicaid expansion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – There’s a new Medicaid expansion plan on the table at the statehouse.

The new plan introduced by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning would help cover thousands of Kansans struggling to get healthcare.

But the way the plan pays for expanding the 3.8 billion-dollar-a-year state Medicaid program for is rubbing some people the wrong way.

The proposal would raise hospital provider charges and have people making about 16,000 dollars a year pay for premiums.

Another way the bill would try to cover costs is to raise taxes on tobacco products. It could raise the cigarette tax up a dollar to $2.29 in taxes per pack.

A manager at a smoke shop in Topeka said this could stop some people from buying cigarettes, but not a lot.

“It might decrease the amount that smoke, but it’s not going to stop them completely, if you’re a true smoker and you really like your cigarettes, you’re going to keep smoking no matter what the price,” said Ruby Tate, manager at Discount Smokes.

“Elsewhere they’re more expensive than us, in other cities and states and stuff, they still buy them, so there’s no difference,” she said.

The Department of Revenue estimates the new tax could raise more than 40-50 million dollars more per year for the state.

A tax increase could also be applied to vaping products. Currently, there is only a five-cent privilege tax per milliliter of liquid.

The plan is in its early stages. It would have to pass in the legislature and head to the governor’s desk.

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