Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly pushes for Medicaid expansion vote this week

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Gov. Laura Kelly is demanding that Republican leaders in the state senate take a vote on expanding Medicaid for the Sunflower State.

Republicans claim they need to study the issue.

A Medicaid expansion in Kansas would extend coverage to about 150,000 people.

And although the house passed a bill to expand Medicaid nearly two weeks ago, Kelly claims opponents in the senate won't bring it up for a hearing and won't take a vote.

The Governor says Kansas has forfeited $3.2 billion in federal payments for the program while rural hospitals close across the state.

She claims expansion is supported by more than three out of four Kansans and she's pushing for a vote this week before the legislative session adjourns.

"No more stall tactics," the Democratic governor said. "No more bait and switch. No more excuses. It is time to expand Medicaid in Kansas. This issue has been studied from every possible angle."

Republicans want to consider provisions including: payment sharing for some Medicaid recipients, a work requirement for those receiving the benefit and drug testing.

The chairman of the senate's public health and welfare committee tells FOX 4 there's no way Medicaid expansion will get a vote this week.

"I think there is roughly 50,000 persons that are currently insured either privately or through the ACA (Affordable Care Act)," said Sen. Gene Suellentrop, a Republican from Wichita. "This is covering able-bodied adults with no dependent children. So when we take a look at that, granting a governmental benefit. We feel uncomfortable about allowing that to happen with no cost."

The Governor says supporters may resort to parliamentary maneuvers to bring the issue to a vote in the senate. That's how it passed in the house. There's also discussion about considering the bill during a veto session when lawmakers return to Topeka after May 1.

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