Capitol Update: Sen. Bollier says Medicaid expansion would lead to economic savings, job growth, improved health outcomes

Sen. Barbara Bollier.

Each legislative session, we provide the Shawnee Mission area’s elected officials with the chance to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol. We’re kicking off this year’s Capitol Update columns a week ahead of the start of the legislative session. Rep. Stephanie Clayton, Rep. Jarrod Ousley and Sen. Barbara Bollier are scheduled to send updates this week. Here’s Sen. Bollier’s filing:

Our legislature is entering its final week of regular session, yet major issues remain unresolved. Last week the Senate passed dozens of bills, but every bill that related to health and healthcare was pulled from the debate to prevent the Senate from possibly amending Medicaid Expansion into a bill like the House did. While the Senate has passed and sent SB 142 (a school funding bill that would end the Gannon lawsuit) to the House, the bill was not addressed by the House and thus will go to conference committee. Regular committees will no longer be meeting, although the three exempt committees (Ways and Means, Fed and State, and Tax) are still allowed to meet if needed.

Conference committees will be meeting this week and are composed of the Chair, Vice-chair, and Ranking Democrat from both the Senate and House committee dealing with said bill. A bill is available to conference if it has passed one chamber or it has passed both chambers but was amended by the second chamber that passed the bill. Those six people decide what the final version of the bill will be, possibly including amendments that were not discussed by either chamber. The committee can vote to send the bill back to the House and Senate for a yes or no vote (no amending from the floor) or to not address the bill this year. This is the time of year that bills fly back and forth, giving legislators little to no time to analyze the changes and make fact-based decisions on how to vote.

There has been tremendous effort by the Republican leadership to prevent a Medicaid expansion bill from having a vote by the full Senate. They know that there is bipartisan support, with at least 21 yes votes to pass the bill, but are blocking that from happening. After multiple years of hearings on this topic as well as a three-day round table this year, the Public Health and Welfare chairman, Senator Sullentrop, has asked for a study of Medicaid expansion over the summer. The Democratic Minority Leader, Senator Hensley, has asked for such a study to be done now, over our upcoming three-week break, rather than waiting another year.

Kansas is one of fourteen states that has not expanded Medicaid, causing us to have missed over $3 billion of our tax dollars from coming back to Kansas. To clear up some misinformation that has gone to some of my constituents, money cannot be used for illegal immigrants, nor can it pay for abortions. Of the thirty-six states that have expanded, none are seeking to end their expansion. In Montana, the direct fiscal effects of Medicaid expansion created savings of $25.2 million, fully offsetting state costs in FY 2017. In Michigan, Medicaid expansion was estimated to have created about 30,000 jobs annually, two-thirds in non-health care, private jobs. Michigan also saw more than $2 billion in new state economic activity with a projected increase in tax revenues by $145 million. Colorado’s Medicaid expansion has led to an estimated $3.82 billion increase in state GDP, job growth of over 31,700, and $102.4 million increase in general fund revenues. Louisiana, during FY2017, saw that Medicaid expansion saved the state general fund $199 million. Low-income adults in Arkansas and Kentucky experienced improvements in health-care access and affordability when compared to Texas, which did not expand Medicaid. I could go on with statistics from other states, but clearly Kansas continues to lose out on economic savings, job growth, and improved health outcomes by refusing to do what the majority of its citizens want: Medicaid expansion.

As your Senator, know that I will be standing strong for the will of the majority in District 7. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss issues or concerns. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.