(Oct. 4, 2019) – Earlier this week, the Governor's Council on Medicaid Expansion held its first meeting in Topeka. I was appointed to this council by Governor Kelly, along with numerous other advocates, stakeholders and policymakers.
Gov. Laura Kelly addressed the council members and made it very clear that Medicaid expansion was "at the top" of her 2020 priority list. She also stated that in her opinion, there is broad agreement that 2020 is the year the Kansas Legislature will pass an expansion program, pointing to statements made by numerous legislative leaders last session. The Governor encouraged the council to examine the question of what we hope to achieve by enacting an expansion program, as well as what we can learn from other states' experience. She also asked the council to use its deliberations to establish three to five broad guiding principles to guide the state as the process moves forward.
Experts from the National Governors Association were on hand to facilitate the meeting, which included an overview of Kansas Medicaid from Adam Proffitt, the current Medicaid director for the state of Kansas. Also on the agenda was Cindy Mann, managing director of Manatt Health, who discussed the national landscape and the methods that other states have used to expand Medicaid. Mann's conclusion was that other states have generally had a very positive experience with expansion, as evidenced by the fact that no expansion state has repealed its program.
Consistent with this theme, the council heard two representatives from expansion states. Jessica Rhoades, health policy advisor to Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, and Greg Moody, who worked in Ohio as part of Gov. John Kasich's team when that state implemented expansion. Both Rhoades and Moody talked about their experiences with Medicaid expansion, with a focus on state budget impacts. Both these individuals stated that expansion had a positive impact on their states, from coverage to economics to the state budget.
The Governor's Council on Medicaid Expansion will meet a couple more times before the end of the year. If the first meeting is any indication, it could be the perfect way to help begin the discussion of what will be a crucial issue for the 2020 Kansas Legislature.