KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Revenues in both states are higher than expected, plus funding is rolling in from the federal government, but it doesn’t seem to be helping lawmakers solve issues that Kansas and Missouri have faced for decades.
Tim Carpenter of the Kansas Reflector and the Kansas City Star’s Jeanne Kuang join FOX4’s John Holt and Kansas City Star Editorial Board member Dave Helling on the latest episode of “4Star Politics.”
Medicaid expansion and how to pay for it is an issue lawmakers in both Kansas and Missouri are facing this session.
“One of the Democratic lawmakers called this issue the fight of the session and it’s definitely become one of the most contentious issues this session,” Kuang said. “The Democrats tried to introduce several different budget amendments to reintroduce funds that Gov. Parson had requested to pay for the voter-approved Medicaid expansion plan … and they were pretty much shot down across the board.”
Missouri’s budget will move forward through the house at this point without money to fund any type of Medicaid expansion.
“The impression I’m getting is that many people believe that the state senate will likely add it back in somehow,” Kuang said. “Of course we have yet to see what they’re going to do when they take up the budget on their side of the building.”
Missouri Republicans have resisted expanding Medicaid for many years. They’ve even approved expansion, but avoided funding that expansion in the past.
“There’s definitely this sort of legal conflict over they passed this amendment but they didn’t pass any money for it and they’re definitely insisting they’re not obligated to pay for this program expansion as a result of that,” Kuang said.
Missouri Gov. Parson hasn’t weighed in on the issue of Medicaid since his state of the state in January. At that time, Parson said he respected the decisions of voters. He did warn that it would cost the state a lot of money.
Medicaid expansion is also on the table across the state line in Kansas. The biggest difference is that no one there voted on expansion. There was also a failed compromise last year. It’s something that the governor and lawmakers have fought about for years.
“Perhaps because she’s [Gov. Kelly] made it such a pivotal element of her administration the Republicans in the legislature are making certain that it doesn’t pass on her watch,” Carpenter said. “I think there’s some criticism of that from the governor and suggesting that it makes the Republicans vulnerable and maybe helps her reelection bid, I don’t know. I think they want to deny her that victory.”
In the Kansas House, democrats introduced an amendment and make an appeal to Republicans and it was easily defeated.
“I think the general public supports expansion and so it’s a little bit of a hot potato at the moment,” Carpenter said.
“There’s money available, not only is Kansas doing a little bit better than one expected in terms of revenue, but the federal government is pouring in enormous amounts of cash into the bank accounts of Kansas and Missouri and they’ve made it especially easy to expand Medicaid in the sates that haven’t done it,” Helling said.
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