July 20, 2024

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Lawmaker: When Is the Day We Can Discuss Medicaid Expansion?

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Democrats in the Kansas House attempted for the fourth time this year to attach a Medicaid expansion to other legislation on Thursday. As in previous attempts, the House rules committee determined the amendment wasn’t germane, or related closely enough to the underlying bill to warrant consideration.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward asked when would be the day the House would debate Medicaid expansion. On Thursday, the answer was, not this day.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward admitted the attempt to attach Medicaid expansion to bill that creates juvenile mental health crisis centers, but he wondered when the body would have an opportunity to debate Medicaid expansion.

“If today isn’t the day, and a week ago wasn’t the day, and a month ago wasn’t the day, and six weeks ago wasn’t the day, when is the day we can have a discussion about Medicaid expansion?” Ward asked the House chamber. “We’ll stop trying to stretch the rules so we can have a debate about an issue people care about.”

A few weeks ago, Ward attempted to attach Medicaid expansion to a banking bill. On Thursday, Rep. Tim Hodge, a Newton Democrat, proposed an expansion amendment.

He sought to have members overrule the rules committee and deem the bill germane. However, House members stomped the brakes with a voice vote affirming the rules committee’s decision.

“We’ve been through this before, and we’re running out of time,” Hodge said.

Proponents of Medicaid expansion hit the gas on the proposal last session. Lawmakers in both chambers approved expansion in early 2017. Then-Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the measure, and an override vote in the House fell three votes shy.

This session, House members have attempted to forward the debate with amendments on the floor. A Senate committee forwarded a Medicaid expansion bill to the full body for debate, but Senate leadership has broad discretion over which bills reach the floor. The Senate bill isn’t currently scheduled for discussion, and Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, has said he isn’t interested in bringing the proposal to the floor until the legislature decides how it will address a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to craft a new school funding mechanism.

Lawmakers are scheduled for first adjournment as early as April 6 or 7. Meanwhile, the Court set an April 30 deadline for lawmakers to adopt a new school funding formula.


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