The Latest: Kansas Senate advances Medicaid expansion bill

AP News
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Posted: Mar 27, 2017 7:06 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the debate in Kansas over expanding its Medicaid program (all times local):

6 p.m.

Kansas lawmakers have voted to expand the state's Medicaid health care program to more low-income individuals.

The bill passed 25-13 in a first-round Senate vote Monday. It will see a final vote Tuesday. If approved, it would then go to conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

The House passed the measure last month after expansion supporters tried unsuccessfully for four years to get a floor debate and vote.

Opponents in the Statehouse have largely relied on cost and uncertainty over what Congress will do to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as reasons not to expand.

But supporters say congressional Republicans' failure to vote on their health care bill last week is more reason to expand. They contend expansion would be an economic boon to the state.

Brownback has stopped short of saying that he would veto the bill.

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4:45 p.m.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has stopped short of saying that he would veto a bill to expand the Medicaid program in Kansas.

But Brownback spokeswoman Melika Willoughby said Monday in an email that that it would be irresponsible to "expand ObamaCare when the program is in a death spiral."

The 2010 overhaul of the U.S. health care system championed by former President Barack Obama encouraged states to expand their Medicaid programs by promising to pay most of the cost.

The Senate was debating a measure that would expand Medicaid to as many as 180,000 additional poor adults.

Brownback said in a letter with other GOP governors to congressional leaders last week that expanding Medicaid under Obama's policies moved the program away from its "core mission" of helping the truly vulnerable.

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3:50 p.m.

Legislators and advocates in Kansas pushing to expand the state's health coverage for the poor and disabled to thousands of adults are buoyed by events in Washington.

They see it as a plus that Republicans in Congress have failed to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

The GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature already was more receptive this year to expanding the state's Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The state Senate was debating a bill Monday and could send it to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback later this week.

Critics of expanding Medicaid in Kansas have pointed to uncertainty about how Congress might overhaul the U.S. health care system.

Other states pursuing Medicaid expansions under the 2010 U.S. law include Maine, North Carolina and Virginia.