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Legislature Adjourns, Hope for KanCare Expansion Revived

from Prepared by: Dodie Wellshear, Ad Astra Government Relations

The Legislature adjourned its regular session on Friday. They left delaying action on a number of key issues before them. Several high-profile health bills were left hanging, with committee leaders saying the exempt bills will be reviewed further in the Veto Session beginning on May 1.

One of the most key pieces of legislation, Medicaid expansion, was passed by the House, but stalled in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. That said, through a series of procedural moves, the measure may yet see Senate action in the 2019 session.

Just before the Senate adjourned on Friday, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka) made a motion to pull HB 2066, containing the House-passed expansion, from the Senate committee where it is parked and move it to the Senate Calendar when they reassemble in May. This is a rather complicated procedural process but requires the following steps:
  • The Senate must consider Sen. Hensley’s motion as its first order of business when the Senate convenes on May 1 at 10:00 am;
  • The motion requires 24 votes to first pull the bill from the Public Health and Welfare Committee; and,
  • A 27-vote majority is then required to force the Senate to debate and vote on the bill.
Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, 28-11, with one Independent, making the procedural votes even more challenging. If the bill comes to a vote, it takes just a simple majority of 21 votes for passage. Many believe it would pass, if it makes it to the debate calendar.

Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee chairman Gene Suellentrop (R-Wichita) has publicly requested an interim legislative study of Medicaid expansion, with some thought of taking it up in next year’s session and some have indicated that may indeed happen.

The Legislature will be on break for the next three weeks, giving members ample opportunity to reach out to the senators on HB 2066. Final Budget Plan Delayed
Finalization of the State Budget will also wait until the Veto Session this year. While House and Senate budget negotiators worked diligently to find resolve between their respective budget proposals, but came to an impasse on two key issues: language reiterating that only the Legislature may authorize appropriations for Medicaid expansion and repayment of the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) loan from 2017. Both of these items were included in the Governor’s budget proposal. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, predicting revenue estimates for the coming year, will meet in mid-April, so those considerations will also enter into the final budget product. There is no reason for alarm in this delay. While the Legislature most often passes a regular session “mega budget” and returns to wrap things up in the Veto Session “Omnibus budget,” there have been a number of years when both have been finalized together.

Status of Selected Health Bills
The bills remaining on this list have been procedurally exempted from legislative deadlines and may be, therefore, acted upon when the Legislature returns for its Veto Session in May.

SB 54/ HB 2102 - Expanding eligibility for Medicaid benefits to the extent permitted by the Affordable Care Act. Status: Referred to Senate Public Health & Welfare and House Appropriations Committees, respectively. Both bills were introduced in exempt committees and do not have to meet the turnaround deadline. (KAFP supports)

HB 2066 – Expanding KanCare coverage to individuals up to 133% of the federal poverty line.

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