Legislative committee holds hearing on KanCare

A vote on expansion is expected next week

The Kansas House health committee will vote next week on whether to expand the state's privatized Medicaid program, called KanCare.

Lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday from cities, businesses, doctors and patients, urging them to expand KanCare. The expansion would provide insurance to an estimated 150,000 Kansans who currently make too much money to qualify for KanCare but not enough to qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The president and CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce testified in favor of the expansion, saying it would make health care coverage more accessible at no additional cost to Kansas taxpayers and without using the state's general fund.   Gary Plummer said expanding KanCare would be a pro-growth policy that would bring hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state, which will help the Kansas economy and create jobs.   He said states that have expanded Medicaid have seen job growth and not as many rural hospitals at risk for closure. 

Proponents say the expansion would be at least budget-neutral or save money, but the state budget office estimates that the plan would still cost more than $150,000,000 in the first two fiscal years.

Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement the state shouldn't expand KanCare because the Trump administration will likely repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Opponents will testify Thursday.