Kansas Governor demands Medicaid expansion debate

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

While the Kansas House approved Medicaid expansion last month, the Senate hasn't debated it and doesn't look like it will.  

Tuesday, Governor Laura Kelly told reporters it's time for that to change.

"I am disappointed that senate leadership continues to block any action on Medicaid expansion. No hearings.  No vote.  Nothing but a request for an interim study on the issue," Kelly said.  "I have always endorsed efforts to carefully study any issue before taking action.  But, when it comes to Medicaid expansion, study is a code word for stall.  I am here today to say that enough is enough.  No more stall tactics.  No more bait and switch.  No more excuses.  It is time to expand Medicaid in Kansas."

Supporters say it would provide health insurance to thousands of the working poor in Kansas, help shore up the finances of struggling rural hospitals, and provide an economic boost to the state.

Opponents say expanding Medicaid costs too much right now.  Senate President Susan Wagle Tuesday said it's about figuring out what would make Medicaid work, something she says isn't happening very well in Kansas right now.

"Governor Kelly would like us to surrender to Obamacare, a broken and bloated system.  Insurance costs have exploded since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act," Wagle said.  "I beleive Medicaid needs reform not expansion.  We've moved away from the original purpose of Medicaid which was to provide health coverage for low-income children, pregnant women, the disabled, and seniors.  In Kansas, Medicaid is already sturggling to provide those core obligations.  Expanding on a failed systemt hat has become too expensive for most Americans is not the answer."

Folks like Easter find the delay frustrating, saying the five years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act became law is long enough to wait.

"I think it should have happened five years ago.  I think there needs to be a little bit of a momentum shift or a little bit of more understanding and not as much selfishness," said Easter.  "We all should, I believe, have health care and insuranace for the entire population."