After three hours of debate, and a vote of 25-14, the Kansas Senate approved an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act on Tuesday. The legislation would expand state health coverage to thousands of low-income adults.
The House approved the plan in February by an 81-44 vote. The bill now goes to Governor Sam Brownback who could veto it.
A bipartisan group of 25 senators voted for the bill. All 13 “no” votes were cast by Republicans concerned about the cost of expansion and opposed to covering low-income, non-disabled adults.
A Brownback spokesperson reaffirmed the governor’s opposition to expansion in tweets during the debate but did not say whether he would veto it.
In a statement released minutes after the vote, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas Director David Jordan urged the governor to “join with the overwhelming bipartisan majorities” that approved the measure in the Kansas House and Senate by signing the bill. Alliance for a Healthy Kansas is a coalition of health care providers and other organizations who support expansion.
If Brownback does veto the measure, supporters would need three more votes in the House and two in the Senate to override him. House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, is optimistic that supporters could round up the necessary votes.
As long as the ACA remains in place, the federal government is obligated to cover no less than 90 percent of the cost of expansion. To date, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid programs. Kansas and Missouri are among 19 states that have so far rejected expansion.