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Interfaith group sees Medicaid expansion as top priority this session

Kansas Interfaith Action has many things it would like to see the Legislature do, but its top priority is one that is also high on the list of new Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.

“This is the year that we want to expand Medicaid,” said Rabbi Moti Rieber. “Our highest priority is expanding Medicaid. At least, in the Governor’s office, we have support. I think that this is the year we’re really going to try to prioritize getting that done.”

Even though Medicaid expansion has passed the Legislature before, only to be vetoed by then Governor Sam Brownback, that doesn’t mean Kelly will necessarily get the chance to sign it.

“It kind of depends on how Legislative leadership approaches it,” said Rieber. “The leadership, particularly in the House, has made it clear that they don’t support Medicaid expansion. They have all kinds of ways that they can keep bills from getting to the floor.”

Democrats, particularly on the House side, have made many efforts to force a vote on the issue in previous sessions.

“If it gets to the floor, if a floor vote was taken, it would pass, easily, even with a more conservative Legislature,” said Rieber. “We certainly have more than half in both houses that would support Medicaid expansion. The question is the use of legislative, sort of, chicanery and parliamentary procedure, to keep it from the floor.”

Rieber says the Legislature avoided the issue last year because they didn’t want to make Dr. Jeff Colyer have to make that decision.

Now that they know Laura Kelly would sign it, it remains to be seen if she’ll get the chance.

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