Medicaid expansion supporters break through; win final House passage

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After a week of setbacks, Medicaid expansion supporters busted through in the Kansas House on Wednesday when the chamber voted to widen the healthcare program for the less affluent.

Democratic lawmakers gutted a bill related to advanced practice registered nurses and turned it into expanding Medicaid.

Their big move came just week after Republicans in the House and Senate pulled money out of Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposed budget for Medicaid expansion.

Democrats complained that Republican leadership had worked to keep Medicaid expansion sidelined to avoid a debate by keeping bills off the floor that could be amended to included expansion.

Republicans tried to keep expansion off the nursing bill but lost when the House voted 62-55 to override a ruling that the amendment was not relevant.

That vote essential sealed the fate of expansion, which later won first-round approval 70-54. The final vote Thursday was 69-54. It will go to the Senate where it will likely face more difficulties.

The House did add two key amendments, including one that requires the state to get out of expansion if the federal government’s program match dips below 90 percent.

It passed another amendment allowing the program to charge  $25 a month for each person enrolled in the program, up to a maximum of $100 per month per family household.

“I’m grateful to the members of the Kansas House of Representatives for debating and giving first-round approval to Medicaid expansion,” Kelly said in a statement.

“This is a critical first step in allowing more Kansans access to affordable healthcare,” she said. “Not only will it benefit our families, it will provide additional support to hospitals and clinics and stimulate our economy.”

Because it was a very, very busy day around the Capitol, we bring you the best of the news coverage, honoring our promise to give you one place to track all legislative news even if we’re buried in so many other issues.

First from the Capital-Journal, the KC Star/Wichita Eagle and The Associated Press via WIBW and Kansas News Service.