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Dem Govs Get It Done: Gov. Laura Kelly Announces Bill to Expand Medicaid and Aid Kansas’ COVID-19 Recovery

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Today, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced a renewed push for Medicaid expansion, introducing a proposal that includes legalizing marijuana to cover the state’s share of the cost.

Despite pushback from Republicans in the legislature, Gov. Kelly has never stopped fighting for affordable, accessible health care. Last year, she reached a bipartisan deal with Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, but the proposal was stalled by other Republican lawmakers.

Time and again, Kansas Republicans have blocked 165,000 Kansans from receiving access to health care and have cost the state millions of dollars in economic activity and federal funds. Kansas has lost over $4.5 billion dollars to surrounding states who have already expanded Medicaid. If Kansas doesn’t expand Medicaid, the state will forgo over $10 billion in economic output in the next five years.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the need for Medicaid expansion in Kansas. Rural hospitals are in crisis – 72 percent of the state’s rural hospitals are at immediate risk of financial closure, largely due to the failure to expand Medicaid. Medicaid expansion would also create more than 13,000 new jobs, aiding the state’s economic recovery.

Read more about Gov. Kelly’s plan to expand Medicaid below.

Associated Press: Kansas governor: Medical pot should fund Medicaid expansion

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly proposed Monday that Kansas should legalize marijuana for medical purposes and use the revenues to expand Medicaid health care for low-income residents, a top priority that the GOP-controlled Legislature has blocked due to cost concerns.

Although Kelly’s unusual strategy seems to solve the money question when it comes to Medicaid, it figures to further rile conservatives who have resisted joining conservative neighbors Missouri and Oklahoma in allowing medical marijuana. Elections last year not only preserved Republican supermajorities in both chambers but left them more conservative.

Kelly has made expanding Medicaid for as many as 165,000 additional Kansas residents a top priority since becoming governor two years ago, but top Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature have prevented its passage. Kelly also previously said she’d sign a medical marijuana bill but she hadn’t actively pushed the idea.