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Kansas…Kansas! strikes bipartisan compromise to expand Medicaid

The list of hard core reactionary states refusing to close their health insurance coverage gaps by expanding Medicaid continues to shrink.

This is from the lead editorial in today’s Kansas City Star:

Kansas has taken an enormous step toward providing quality health care for all of its residents.

In a joint news conference Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and Kansas Sen. Jim Denning, a Republican, announced a compromise that could lead to expanded Medicaid insurance coverage in the state.

Expanding Medicaid has been an issue for almost a decade. The state came close to approving a plan in 2017, but lawmakers fell just short of overriding former Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto.

Here’s the plan:

  • Medicaid insurance coverage would be available for Kansans earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s $35,535 a year in 2020. It could make up to 150,000 Kansans eligible.
  • The federal government would pay 90% of the cost; any less, and the program ends. Kansas’ 10% contribution would come from a charge to hospitals, up to $35 million a year.
  • The program would start no later than January 2021. Kansas would also adopt a proposal aimed at reducing private health insurance premiums, which could lower the cost of expanding Medicaid by keeping some people on private insurance.
  • There is no work requirement. There would be a more robust work referral program for those on expanded Medicaid. Clients would be asked to pay a $25 monthly premium.
In addition to being wonderful, life-saving, economy-boosting news for the people of the Sunflower State, the breakthrough ought to send another loud and clear signal to obstructionists in the North Carolina General Assembly that the days of their years-long Medicaid blockade here are numbered. If politicians in Kansas, a rock-ribbed conservative state that has served as a battleground in the national ideological wars for decades, can take such a step then surely North Carolina leaders will soon find themselves compelled to do likewise.

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