Kansas health committee to vote on Medicaid expansion

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

The leader of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce says he supports expansion the Kansas Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

A statement from the chamber said Gary Plummer testified in favor of expansion at a Kansas House committee hearing Wednesday. His prepared statement said expansion would create jobs, after Kansas lost 9,400 private-sector jobs in 2016. Plummer claimed a lack of expansion costs the state $1.9 million a day.

"In Sedgwick County alone, 21,024 uninsured residents would gain health coverage, there would be an anticipated 563 new jobs and $89 million in new annual health care spending, creating economic impact and improving health," Plummer contended.

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The Kansas House health committee will vote next week on whether to expand the state's privatized Medicaid program, called KanCare.

Lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday from cities, businesses, doctors and patients, urging them to expand KanCare. The expansion would provide insurance to an estimated 150,000 Kansans who currently make too much money to qualify for KanCare but not enough to qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents say the expansion would be at least budget-neutral or save money, but the state budget office estimates that the plan would still cost more than $150,000,000 in the first two fiscal years.

Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement the state shouldn't expand KanCare because the Trump administration will likely repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Opponents will testify Thursday.

EARLIER: Medicaid expansion clash continues in Kansas hearings

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