(March 22, 2019) – It was a busy week in Topeka for the issue of KanCare expansion. You probably know by now the Kansas House approved a bill that would enact KanCare expansion. The vote on final action yesterday was 69-54. But the real debate was Wednesday when a coalition of House members moved to insert expansion into a bill being debated on the House floor. House Bill 2066 originally dealt with the issue of the APRN scope of practice. During House debate, the provisions of the initial bill were removed and replaced with the KanCare expansion plan. House leaders ruled the amendment "non-germane," but that ruling was challenged by expansion proponents. The House then voted to override that ruling, allowing the expansion debate to continue. This vote was critical, and somewhat surprising, because leadership rulings on germaneness are rarely overturned. Rep. Kathy Wolfe-Moore (D-Kansas City) carried the expansion amendment, skillfully guiding it to the ultimate successful vote on final action.
The House action came on the heels of a KanCare expansion rally on Tuesday. The rally was organized by the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas and featured numerous speakers, including individuals who would be benefitted by expansion, association supporters and even Gov. Laura Kelly. KHA's Audrey Dunkel did a superb job of speaking on behalf of Kansas hospitals. The central message point of the rally was the appeal to legislators to allow a vote on this important issue. Fortunately, the House listened.
The Senate? So far, there is no indication that Senate leadership is interested in allowing such a vote. In fact, Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Wichita), a Senate committee chair, recently penned an op-ed in which he reviewed his arguments against Medicaid expansion. Most of those arguments have, in my opinion, been debunked. But for now, let's just allow Sen. Masterson his points and not re-argue the substance of the issue. Here is my simple question to him and the Senate leadership: If you are so sure of your arguments against expansion, then why are you and other legislative leaders unwilling to let the full Senate vote on the issue?
Regardless of the answer to this question, we can impact the refusal of Senate leadership to allow a vote on expansion by contacting our state senators and urging them to allow a vote on House Bill 2066. Your excellent advocacy efforts helped to get the issue through the House. Your continuing efforts can help make the difference in the Senate. Thank you!