Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kelly Urges Senate Vote on Medicaid

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kelly Urges Senate Vote on Medicaid

Article excerpt

Gov. Laura Kelly called out the Senate's GOP leadership Tuesday for standing in the way of Medicaid expansion, urging action on behalf of uninsured Kansans and struggling rural hospitals.

Senate President Susan Wagle answered her call with a fierce rebuke of the Obamacare system and a personal story of her daughter's medical care.

Kelly, a Democrat who made expansion a priority for her administration, admonished Republican adversaries for refusing to allow a vote on expansion. A bipartisan coalition deployed procedural high jinks to pass legislation in the House two weeks ago, putting the ball in Wagle's court.

Kansans want Medicaid expansion, Kelly said, and they want it now.

"I'm here today to say enough is enough," Kelly said. "No more stall tactics. No more bait and switch. No more excuses. It is time to expand Medicaid in Kansas."

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Friday for a three-week break before wrapping up business in May. Wagle said she wants more time to study Medicaid expansion, which Kelly dismissed as code for stalling.

Wagle, a Republican from Wichita, insisted the Senate wouldn't accept a plan endorsed by socialist Democratic U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who applauded the House effort.

"Gov. Kelly would have us surrender to Obamacare — a bloated and broken system," Wagle said.

Under Obamacare, states can expand Medicaid health insurance coverage to low-income families who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government covers 90 percent of medical costs in expansion states.

Kansas already is struggling, Wagle said, to provide quality care to the 416,000 disabled, elderly, impoverished and pregnant residents who already receive Medicaid services. A study by the Kansas Health Institute predicted expansion would add 130,000 adults and children to the program, which is known as KanCare. …

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