Kansas Does not Get Necessary Votes to Override Veto of Medicaid Expansion

The Kansas Legislature’s attempt to join the ranks of the 31 states and the District of Columbia that have already expanded their Medicaid programs came to a halt during the first week of April. The Kansas House voted narrowly to uphold Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of a bill to expand Medicaid. The vote fell three votes short of the necessary super majority required to override the veto.

There has been significant research on the overall effects of a Kansas Medicaid expansion. It is estimated that nearly 150,000 low income individuals would be eligible for Medicaid if the state were to expand its program. Manatt Health estimated that Medicaid expansion in Kansas would cost the state $53 million annually from 2016-2020. Based on their findings, Manatt Health stated that Kansas should be able to generate sufficient savings and revenue gains to cover the expansion, ultimately making it budget neutral.

The Alliance for A Healthy Kansas found that expanding Medicaid would have positive economic effects on the state. Medicaid expansion would lead to the creation of nearly 3,800 new jobs. Additionally, the expansion would assist many struggling rural hospitals by increasing their revenue generated from newly eligible adults being able to seek medical care.

Opponents to the expansion stated that expanding Medicaid would make it harder for those already covered by the program to receive care. Additionally, some noted the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a concern. Specifically, opponents to the expansion have fears regarding whether the promised federal match rate of 90 percent for newly eligible adults after 2020 will continue to exist if the ACA is eventually repealed and replaced.

In Brownback’s veto statement, he stated that it is unwise to expand Medicaid while the Trump administration is still promising to replace the ACA. Brownback was also dissatisfied with the bill for its lack of a true work requirement for beneficiaries of the expansion as well as the increase in state and federal funding that it would allocate towards Planned Parenthood.

With the ACA still secure for the time being, other states are starting to rekindle their interest in expanding their Medicaid programs. In November, Maine residents will have the opportunity to vote on whether to expand Medicaid. Maine will be the first state to allow its residents rather than its legislature to vote on the decision. Additionally, Republican Governor Nathan Deal announced that his administration is exploring changes to the State’s Medicaid program.