Sen. Hensley proposes new Medicaid expansion bill in response to Sen. Denning

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Sen. Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) announced Thursday he will be pre-filing a Medicaid expansion bill similar to House Bill 2066, which was debated in the House last March.

This is in response to Sen. Jim Denning’s proposed bill, in which he told KSNT News in October that it aims to help Kansans who can’t afford healthcare.

“We can compare his bill, which basically proposes a tax increase on cigarettes,” Hensley said. “We’ll compare his bill with the House bill, which the Governor supports, and doesn’t propose any sort of tax increase whatsoever.”

Denning’s bill proposes charging hospitals with fees if they serve Medicaid patients, as well as charging people who are slightly over the poverty line if they want to receive coverage. Additionally, the bill includes a six-month lockout period for people missing a premium payment.

Denning’s plan could also raise taxes on cigarettes and e-cigarettes to pay for the expansion.

Despite this, Denning previously told KSNT News his bill is better than House Bill 2066, which was passed by the House but then withdrawn by the Senate.

The changes Hensley has made to this bill include having KanCare recipients pay a monthly fee of up to $25 instead of a fixed rate which is determined by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

Hensley also added a hardship exemption from the monthly fee to the bill and removed all lockout language.

“I think it’s the right approach to take on Medicaid expansion,” said Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-Wichita). “We…passed with a strong vote in the House. The House has a strong position and I’m hopeful that we can proceed passing something along those lines.”

This bill will provide 130,000 Kansans with healthcare coverage, according to Sawyer.

Hensley wants Denning to pre-file his bill and if he doesn’t, Hensley said he will himself.

“I would just assume to see him introduce his own bill. I think that’s a better option in terms of the process here. I’m not going to try to force something down his throat. I think he needs to do it on his own and I wanted to give him that opportunity,” Hensley said.

Hensley said he will pre-file his bill on Dec. 2 and is asking senators to co-sponsor it.

KSNT News reached out to Denning for comment and did not hear back.

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