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Medicaid expansion amendment dies in Kansas Senate

(WIBW)
Published: Mar. 4, 2021 at 3:20 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Senate Republicans and Democrats battled over a Medicaid expansion amendment on Wednesday evening.

The Kansas Senate Republicans say they preserved Medicaid for Kansans that need it by rejecting an amendment by Democrats to alter the program. They said in doing so, they also prevented taxpayer-funded abortions.

According to the Senate Republicans, Democrats brought an amendment to SB 238, which handles community behavioral health clinics, that would expand Medicaid to include able-bodied, working-age adults.

“It is critically important to preserve Medicaid for the vulnerable Kansans for whom it was intended such as the elderly, the disabled, and other vulnerable communities,” said Senate President Ty Masterson (R-16th District). “Expanding Medicaid to include able-bodied adults would force tens of thousands of Kansans off their insurance and further destroy the private market, which as already been damaged by ObamaCare. The best way to improve access to health care is to create more choices for Kansans by removing barriers to competition and removing the regulations that drive up the cost of health care.”

Masterson said the rejection of the amendment also ensured taxpayers do not have to fund abortions.

“Due to the Hodes decision, taxpayer-funded abortion would assuredly be a devastating consequence of expanding Medicaid,” said Masterson. “Senate Republicans made it clear today that we side with Kansans who do not want their hard-earned money going to fund abortion.”

However, Senate Democrats said the move would have helped low-income working families during the COVID-19 pandemic. It said the move would have also expanded Medicaid for 165,000 Kansans.

“In the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century, Republicans in the Kansas Senate don’t think low-income working families and vulnerable Kansans who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic deserve healthcare,” said Vicki Hiatt, Chairwoman of the Kansas Democratic Party. “Hardworking Kansans have felt the repercussions of Republican inaction and obstructionism on healthcare for years and will continue to do so as Republican legislators voted down an amendment to SB 238 yesterday, which would have expanded Medicaid for 165,000 Kansans.”

Hiatt said Kansas needs Medicaid expansion to overcome the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also said the expansion would have enhanced the viability of rural hospitals.

“In contrast, Democratic leaders in the Kansas Senate are championing our state’s need for Medicaid expansion to overcome the economic and public health consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the lives of hardworking Kansans across the Sunflower state,” said Hiatt. “Expanding Medicaid in Kansas would cover 165,000 additional hardworking Kansans, spur economic development and new jobs, provide financial stability to low-income families and enhance the viability of rural hospitals and other healthcare providers.”

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