Ward loses bid to force Medicaid expansion debate


House Minority Leader Jim Ward lost an attempt Wednesday to force the Kansas House to debate expansion of Medicaid.

Jim Ward

Ward, a Democratic candidate for Kansas governor, tried to amend a banking bill with the proposal to expand Medicaid.

The House voted down the proposal, upholding a ruling that Ward’s amendment wasn’t germane to the bill. The vote was 77-45.

The Wichita lawmaker contended that his amendment was germane because, among other things, the banking bill contained statutes referencing Medicaid plus it included a provision that prohibited expansion of Medicaid without approval of the Legislature.

Ward also tried to amend the bill to prevent the governor from imposing work requirements and lifetime caps for Medicaid recipients. It, too, was ruled as not germane.

He then tried to remove the clause requiring the Legislature to approve any expansion of Medicaid. The House voted down that amendment.

“Another frustrating day,” Ward said after the House adjourned Wednesday. “Kansas overwhelmingly wants Medicaid expansion and yet there’s obstructionist leadership that won’t let us debate it. Today was another disappointment.”

Ward argued that the full House deserved to get a debate on Medicaid expansion without the process interfering. He said the only debates the House got on Medicaid is when a bill was amended on the floor of the chamber.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said the House debated the issue last year. He said a  House committee held three days of hearings last year on Medicaid.

Ryckman pointed out that the House approved a bill last year that was later vetoed by the governor. The chamber came up three votes short of a successful veto override.

This year, a Senate committee approved Medicaid expansion, but the legislation has failed to advance any further so far.