Jim Ward to push forward Medicaid expansion – Hutchinson News
TOPEKA – House Minority Leader Jim Ward said Tuesday he will push forward with a fresh attempt at Medicaid expansion, but some lawmakers doubted the effort would succeed.
“I’m going to use every tool in my toolbox to have another Medicaid expansion debate, vote, and push the envelope on this issue until the last gavel falls,” Ward said. “And there will be opportunities to do that.”
He suggested dozens of hospitals around the state are under financial stress that could be alleviated by expanding Medicaid coverage.
The Legislature passed a Medicaid expansion bill earlier this session. Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed it. Representatives then fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override.
If a new effort were to succeed in the House, it would still need to pass the Senate.
Sen. Rob Olson, R-Olathe, predicted any such vote would simply yield the same result as before. The Medicaid expansion bill passed the Senate earlier this session without a veto-proof majority.
“It wouldn’t change anything,” said Olson, who opposes expanding the state’s Medicaid program. “We don’t have enough money to fund general government right now. What we’re going to do is expand more entitlements to people? No. I don’t think so.”
Sen. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, who favors Medicaid expansion, said it is worth voting again regardless of the outcome.
“The point always is, are the people in the Senate or the House listening to the people?” she said. “I think the people continue to say, ‘We want this.’ So it is, to me, our obligation in representing the people to continue to push forward.”
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said a two-third majority in both chambers looks unlikely.
“That’s a pretty daunting task,” Hensley said. “I’m concerned about it.”