Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning hold press conference to announce a bipartisan compromise on Medicaid Expansion

Saying that compromise is “hard, messy, and slow,” Governor Kelly and Senate Majority Leader Denning announced this morning that they had crafted a bill to expand KanCare (the Kansas Medicaid program) for consideration in the 2020 legislative session.

Kelly had proposed a simple, clean expansion while Denning had crafted a complex partial expansion that would have required multiple federal waivers before it became law. But the two have been meeting to share ideas, concerns, and proposals for some time. At a press conference this morning, they announced they had an agreement that would be filed as a bill this afternoon.

Denning announced the bill has 22 Senate co-sponsors which is more than enough to pass.

Here are a few of the details:

  • This would be a full Medicaid expansion up to 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to begin no later than January 1, 2021.
  • The state will consider a reinsurance waiver and, if approved by both the state and the federal Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS), individuals from 100 to 138% of FPL would be transitioned from Medicaid to the ACA Exchange no later than January 1, 2022. If these waivers are not adopted, those individuals would still be covered under expansion.
  • The bill includes a work referral program under which unemployed individuals who are able to work will be provided support and assistance to find work.
  • There is a $25 dollar premium for those between 100% and 138% of FPL but there are no lockouts for failure to pay the premium and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will be allowed to grant hardship waivers.
  • The bill also provides that if the federal Medicaid match were to drop below 90%, expansion will end.

Other provisions of the bill are intended to deal with covering the costs, covering inmates with medical needs, and improving rural healthcare quality and access.

The large crowd in the Statehouse reacted favorably to the announcement. If this bill passes, Kansas will become the 38th state to have adopted expanded Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Kansas House of Representatives has already passed a Medicaid expansion bill.