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The Latest: Medicaid expansion proposal advances in Kansas

March 20, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Latest on the debate over expanding Medicaid in Kansas (all times local):

6:22 p.m.

A plan for expanding Medicaid in Kansas has won first-round approval in the Republican-controlled House.

The vote Wednesday was 70-54 in favor of a bill that contains Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s plan for expanding Medicaid health coverage to as many as 150,000 additional people with a few key changes. The House is expected to take another, final vote Thursday to determine whether the measure goes to the Senate.

The House’s action is a significant victory for Medicaid expansion supporters. They showed they have enough votes to advance a proposal over the strong objections of GOP leaders. Kelly’s plan had been bottled up in committees in both chambers.

One key change to Kelly’s plan ends the expansion if the federal government stops covering 90 percent of the cost.

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2:41 p.m.

Supporters of expanding Medicaid in Kansas have won a big vote in the Republican-controlled Kansas House on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s expansion plan.

The House voted 69-53 on Wednesday to add Kelly’s expansion plan to an unrelated health care bill. The House broke off its debate so that members could draft other amendments but the House expected to return to it later Wednesday.

The vote indicates that supporters have enough votes to get a version of Medicaid expansion through the House.

Majority Leader Dan Hawkins conceded that a bill is likely to pass and said the dynamics of the Legislature’s debate have changed. The conservative Wichita Republican opposes Medicaid expansion.

Kelly wants to provide Medicaid coverage to up to 150,000 more Kansans. Top Republicans argue that expansion would be costly.

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1:26 p.m.

Medicaid expansion supporters have forced a debate in the Republican-controlled Kansas House on Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s expansion plan.

The House was debating Kelly’s proposal Wednesday as a proposed amendment to an unrelated health bill. The chamber’s GOP-led Rules Committee declared the amendment out of order, but the House voted 62-55 to overturn that decision.

Medicaid expansion supporters hoped to rewrite the bill and gain first-round approval in the House later Wednesday. It would be their first significant victory since 2017, when they passed an expansion bill, only to see then-Republican Gov. Sam Brownback veto it.

Kelly wants to provide Medicaid coverage to up to 150,000 more Kansans and supporters argue that it will help many working families. Top Republicans argue that Medicaid expansion would be costly for the state.

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