Special Committee makes recommendations on Medicaid Expansion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Special Committee on Medicaid Expansion met on Wednesday to continue their discussion of Kansas possibly joining 36 other states and Washington D.C. in adopting Medicaid Expansion.

The committee did not propose a Medicaid Expansion bill Wednesday but did make a long list of recommendations.

“We just felt like it was more prudent for us to continue the education process, continue trying to get questions answered that haven’t been answered,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr (R), Chair of the Special Committee on Medicaid Expansion.

After two full days of hearing testimony, the committee spent nearly 3 hours making recommendations and discussing their report for legislators.

A couple of recommendations created some conflict in the committee meeting.

The first was a motion made by Rep. Will Carpenter (R) that would allow doctors to turn away patients based on their religious beliefs. Sen. Barbara Bollier (D) and Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore (D) both raised concerns that this could potentially cause an issue for female patients looking to be prescribed birth control.

“So I’m a Medicaid patient I go to the doctor for my well-woman exam and on the way out I say ‘hey, I want a prescription for birth control,'” says Rep. Wolfe Moore hypothetically. “He says ‘no it’s against my religious beliefs to provide birth control.’ Then I have to go to a second doctor to get that prescription and I will still have to pay for that first one because I had the service done.”

Ultimately, the motion passed with 7 ‘yes’ votes to 3 ‘no’ votes.

This means it will be a recommendation in the committee’s report. It does not necessarily mean that it will be in a future bill.

A recommendation was also made to require Medicaid patients to work a minimum number of hours or be a college student taking a minimum of 12 credit hours.

“These people have jobs but maybe they’re not jobs that pay enough to pay for the insurance or do not provide health insurance,” says Rep. Landwehr. “But they’re able-bodied individuals so why shouldn’t they be working?”

Concerns were raised by other members of the committee that some people on Medicaid could be too sick to work and this work requirement could mean they would lose their coverage.

State Medicaid Director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Adam Proffitt, told the committee that many states had implemented or suggested work requirements as a part of their Medicaid Expansion as well. However no states currently have those requirements in place. Proffitt says this is due to court cases, legal and legislative issues that question the requirement.

The motion passed, meaning it will also be added to the report as a recommendation.

Other recommendations include excluding abortion services other than what is currently allowed in the Medicaid plan from being covered, requesting that the Department of Commerce create a task force to investigate healthcare issues in rural Kansas hospitals. This would make patients that are diagnosed with serious emotional disturbance (SED), serious mental illness (SMI), or chronic illness exempt from paying premiums.

Chair of the committee Rep. Landwehr says this process is time-consuming and difficult.

“We are really trying to get it…every aspect of it, get into every nook and cranny of it to understand it because legislators are just now starting to understand, and even some of the public, that this is much more complex than a little soundbite,” she said.

All recommendations made in the meeting today will be compiled into a report. That report will need to be looked over and approved by the committee before being passed on to the legislature. The legislature will have the decision to move forward with a bill in 2020.

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