Opponents against Medicaid expansion make case in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. As some Kansas lawmakers see this as the year to complete Medicaid expansion in the state, those against the plan were in Topeka Thursday, explaining why they want to see the plan scrapped.

The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee Thursday continued the public hearing for opponents to testify.

Americans for Prosperity Kansas Deputy Directory Elizabeth Patton says she grew up with health issues and it's something her children now face. With that, she argues Medicaid expansion is not the fix to best help Kansas families.

She says the current bill calling for Medicaid expansion does not do enough to address the KanCare disabilities waiting list and points to other states with expansion that saw healthcare premiums rise.

"Kansas itself has dozens of additional mandates just for our own state that are already on the books and also contribute to high premiums here," Patton says.

Other opponents argue Medicaid expansion won't help ailing rural hospitals, saying some rural doctors don't accept Medicaid.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce says its concerns is that people will leave employer plans for Medicaid and points out the state is not budgeting for that.

"The state wasn't anticipating joining that program. That will also change the cost as to (how) it impacts our state," Kansas Chamber of Commerce Senior Director of Government Kristi Brown says. "I don't think that is anything that we have adequately projected."

However, supporters in the room during Thursday's hearing maintain that the reward of Medicaid expansion will far outweigh the risk, allowing up to 150,000 more Kansans to be eligible.