Kansas Medicaid expansion faces steep climb after quick rejection in first 2021 debate (Kansas City Star)

Kansas Medicaid expansion was dealt another setback Wednesday in its first formal debate this year, as lawmakers signaled that the proposal, long a Democratic priority, was unlikely to go anywhere this session.

Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, a Lenexa Democrat, introduced expansion as an amendment to a bill that sought to create a certification and funding process for community mental health clinics. It also authorized out-of-state physicians to treat Kansans via telemedicine.

Kansas is one of 12 states which has not expanded Medicaid since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2010. A provision of the act calls for the federal government to pick up 90 percent of the additional cost of expansion. Opponents call it too expensive while advocates say the state is missing out on federal funding and leaving thousands uninsured.

bipartisan effort to pass the policy died last year after then-Senate President Susan Wagle pledged not to bring it to the floor unless an anti-abortion constitutional amendment was approved.

This year, no legislative committee has reviewed Medicaid expansion, which has been viewed as a non-starter within the GOP supermajority. Gov. Laura Kelly has proposed that revenue from the legalization of medical marijuana be used to offset costs.

After an hour of debate, the amendment was rejected along a near-party line vote of 23-12. Sen. John Doll, a Garden City Republican and consistent supporter of expansion, voted in favor of the amendment.

Other GOP supporters of expansion voted against the amendment, citing concerns that adding it to the community health center bill would kill its chances of passage.

“We have a mental health crisis today,” said Sen. Carolyn McGinn a Sedgwick Republican.

McGinn said she’d like the Senate to debate Medicaid expansion but only on its own merits as a bill.

This article appeared on the KC Star website, here.