Local legislators weigh in on Gov. Kelly, Overland Park Sen. Jim Denning’s announcement on Medicaid expansion plan

Gov. Laura Kelly (at right, beside podium) and Sen. Jim Denning (speaking at podium) announced on Thursday they had reached a tentative deal on a plan for Medicaid Expansion this session. Photo via Sen. Denning’s Twitter account.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning of Overland Park announced this week that they have reached accord on a plan for Medicaid expansion heading into the 2020 session. The two officials announced their deal — which the Topeka Capital-Journal reported resulted from two months worth of negotiations — at a press conference held at the capitol.

As proposed, the plan extends healthcare coverage to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The federal government would cover 90 percent of the expansion cost. A program would be implemented to refer Medicaid recipients for job opportunities as part of the plan.

The plan unveiled by Kelly and Denning is co-sponsored by 22 senators — 11 Democrats and 11 Republican.

Word of the proposed deal brought a range of reactions from local legislators — both in support of and against the plan. Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook of Shawnee, who will be leaving her seat next week, released a statement criticizing the agreement.

“This Obamacare Medicaid expansion legislation is a redistribution of money harmful to human flourishing, and for legislators who sign onto a bill ‘because something is going to pass anyway,’ please consider that you are not fighting for what is right for the people,” Pilcher-Cook said in a release.

Democratic Rep. Cindy Holscher, who represents parts of Lenexa and Overland Park and who is running for Denning’s senate seat this year, said in a statement that Medicaid expansion appears to be moving in a positive direction, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Additionally, Holscher said bipartisanship made the plan possible.

“For close to seven years, a number of people — voters, healthcare advocates and legislators like myself who favor Medicaid expansion — have worked to forward this important program,” Holscher said. “It is great to see individuals who have worked to prevent expansion throughout that timeframe now coming to the table on this topic.”

Other legislators took to Twitter to share their thoughts and reactions to the plan. District 25 Rep. Rui Xu tweeted “same” in a quoted tweet from District 30 Rep. Brandon Woodard, in which Woodard said he would support the bill as it was being described during Thursday’s press conference.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, who is running for U.S. Senate, tweeted that she and Kelly have been fighting for Medicaid expansion for years. Bollier said she’s proud of the strides Kelly has made, and that she intends to work toward KanCare expansion. In a separate tweet, Bollier said “access to affordable healthcare shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

District 17 Rep. Tom Cox of Shawnee and District 19 Rep. Stephanie Clayton also tweeted in support of the plan: