KanCare expansion and taxes the top talk at the Statehouse

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Governor Laura Kelly unveiled her plans to expand the states’ Medicaid program. Many Republican leaders oppose it and they're pushing their own plan for a tax cut.

She released a bill, like she promised during her State of the State address, by Kansas Day. The proposal mirrors one lawmakers passed in 2017, but then-governor Sam Brownback vetoed.

“I voted for that bill because I think Medicaid expansion's time has come,” said Sen. Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka). “I think it’s very important that the legislature pass that bill this time.”

“The defect of any bill having to deal with Medicaid expansion has to do with the fact of the cost. That’s part of it. Access, and what Medicaid expansion truly does,” Rep. Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) rebutted.

The Governor’s office says the bill would add $150,000 more under the insurance umbrella by January of 2020, and cost the state around $14 million a year.

“It will produce a lot of jobs and will keep rural hospitals open,” Hensley added.

“And we know that Medicaid expansion does not save rural hospitals. In fact, 25% of all dollars go to the top two hospital systems in the state,” Hawkins contended.

Kelly wants to pay for it with the same money Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) is eyeing for a tax cut. Her special committee opened hearings Tuesday on a proposal meant to prevent individuals and corporations from paying more to the state due to changes in federal tax law.

“It will be a tax increase on Kansas businesses and individuals if we don’t pass a bill,” said Wagle.

“We have things like trying to properly fund our schools, trying to make payments to KPERS pension program. This doesn’t hold water,” said Sen. Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City).

“Laura Kelly is a former member of the Senate. She, I’m sure, is listening to the debate. She’ll be following the debate, and I’m not so sure she’ll veto it,” Wagle added with confidence.

The Senate committee will hold hearings over the next couple of days.
Hearings on the Governor's Medicaid proposal are not yet set.