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Bill halting Medicaid expansion in Kansas headed to governor’s desk

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Friday, April 4, 2014, at 8:35 p.m.

A bill that will indefinitely halt the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas is headed to the governor’s desk.

The House voted 68-54 Friday to approve changes made by the Senate to HB 2552.

The bill originally was intended to require prompt payment by KanCare providers. It was amended in the Senate to include a provision that requires approval by the Legislature to expand Medicaid, which is allowed under the Affordable Care Act if a state’s governor approves.

Brownback has repeatedly said that he has not made a final decision about expansion.

House Democrats decried the move by Republicans in both chambers to turn a bipartisan bill into what they considered an ideological statement that withholds medical coverage for people in need.

Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, blasted the refusal to expand Medicaid as immoral, especially since the Legislature has not held a hearing on expanding the program.

“I think there’s a cancer on our dialogue,” Ward said, criticizing Republicans’ reluctance to hold hearings at which proponents could state their case.

Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, a retired physician who often breaks from her party, said that expanding Medicaid should remain the governor’s decision, noting that the Legislature is in session only part of the year.

But Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, who carried the bill, said the decision should be left up to legislators as the people’s representatives.

And Rep. Rep. Dave Crum, R-Augusta, said that federal funding for Medicaid is unsustainable and that it would be irresponsible for the Legislature to expand the program.

Reach Bryan Lowry at 785-296-3006 or blowry@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BryanLowry3.

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