Kansas Legislature Approves Medicaid Expansion


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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.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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