Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly Announces Medicaid Expansion Bill Funded By Medical Marijuana

February 11, 2021 by Sean Trambley
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

TOPEKA, Kan. – This week, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced legislation to expand Medicaid, known as KanCare, and provide health insurance for 165,000 Kansans. The legislation also establishes a regulatory framework to make Kansas the 48th state to legalize medical marijuana.

“After nearly a year of challenges brought on by COVID-19, we need to use every tool at our disposal to protect the health of our workforce and our economy,” Kelly said. “Getting 165,000 Kansans health care, injecting billions of dollars and thousands of jobs into our local economies, and protecting our rural hospitals will be critical to our recovery from the pandemic. By combining broadly popular, commonsense medical marijuana policy with our efforts to expand Medicaid, the revenue from the bill will pay for expansion.”

This Medicaid Expansion bill includes many of the same components of compromise legislation from last year with the exception of the reinsurance program and the Medicaid Expansion Surcharge paid by Kansas hospitals to offset the state general fund costs of expanding Medicaid.

In place of these two programs, a proposed medical marijuana bill has been inserted. 

Kansas is one of only three states without legalized medical marijuana and one of only twelve that have failed to expand Medicaid.

“Our economic recovery depends heavily on our ability to attract and retain businesses throughout the state,” Lt. Gov. Toland said. “Kansas has no business giving companies even one reason to look elsewhere — and I can say, unequivocally, that the availability of health care and well-being of all Kansans matters a great deal to companies considering places to locate and grow.”

Under the proposed legislation, Medicaid will be expanded to the full 138% Federal Poverty Line at 90% to 10% match from the federal government. The bill requires the secretary of Health and Environment to collect information from applicants regarding their employment history through the Medicaid application and refer unemployed or underemployed individuals to the Department of Commerce or Department of Children and Families to assist with locating job opportunities through work referral programs.

Individuals will be required to pay a premium not to exceed $25 per person or $100 per family, with a provision to grant exceptions based on hardship. Premiums that go more than 60 days unpaid are referred to the established debt setoff program through the Department of Revenue for collection.

“Expanding Medicaid is one of the most cost-effective tools our state can use to protect our residents, health care providers and economy during the COVID-19 crisis and later as we rebuild,” April Holman, executive director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas, said. “With that in mind, we commend the governor for her commitment to this issue. We will need to discuss the full scope of Gov. Kelly’s proposal with our coalition. However, we remain unified in urging the Legislature to act on expanding Medicaid now. On its own, expanding KanCare will prove to be a budget positive proposal that will create thousands of jobs.”

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