Senator Dinah Sykes (D-Lenexa) took time out during last week’s legislative session to send a very misleading fundraising email about her attempt to expand Medicaid in Kansas. The email was dated Thursday, May 21 at 6:29 pm while the Senate was still in session.
Sykes’s email says Senate leadership “moved to shut down discussion” of her amendment to expand Medicaid Thursday afternoon, but those watching know that that’s not what happened. Debate wasn’t ‘shut down’; the majority of senators voted to abide by the rules that were unanimously approved by the Senate.
Senator Sykes made a motion to amend a telecommunications bill with Medicaid expansion, in direct violation of Senate rules, which say amendments must be germane to the underlying bill. Clearly, there is no relationship between the two, and the Senate rules committee ruled her motion out of order. Sykes then asked for a vote to overturn the rules committee, which failed by a vote of 26-14. All eleven Democrats and three Republicans – John Doll, John Skubal, and Mary Taylor, voted to overturn the rules.
Her email also said Medicaid expansion “would keep taxpayer dollars here in Kansas…” but that’s not true. The federal government is running a large deficit, which means every tax dollar sent to Washington is already spent. If Kansas expanded Medicaid, the funding would be borrowed and added to the national debt.
Senator Sykes also grossly overstated the number of Kansans who would get “much-needed healthcare” as a result of expansion. It’s not 130,000 as she claimed. That number comes from the Kansas Health Institute, and it includes 40,000 children who are already eligible for Medicaid but aren’t signed up. And as the Sentinel reported in January, many of the newly eligible adults already have coverage.
54% of eligible adults in Kansas are estimated to already have private coverage through their employer or through the individual marketplace. About 23,000 more are estimated to currently get premium support for private coverage on the ObamaCare exchange, and others would be eligible for premium support if they meet the minimum work requirements mentioned above.