4Star Politics: Diving deeper into Missouri’s Medicaid expansion and Kansas’ US Senate race

4Star Politics

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This week on 4Star Politics, with less than a month until the August primary election, we’re diving deeper into a big ballot issue in Missouri — Amendment 2 — and a big race in Kansas — the U.S. Senate. 

Missouri Medicaid

Missouri’s Amendment 2 ballot initiative will ask voters to decide whether to expand Medicaid health care coverage to thousands more low-income people in the state.

FOX4’s John Holt and The Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling talked with people on both sides of the debate: Is expanding Medicaid good for Missouri? 

Missouri’s Medicaid program currently does not cover most adults without children, and its income eligibility threshold for parents is one of the lowest in the nation at about one-fifth of the poverty level.

The ballot proposal would expand eligibility under the terms of the 2010 federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

That law provides a higher-than-usual federal funding share for states that expand Medicaid coverage to adults earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level, about $17,600 for an individual or $30,000 for a family of three.

Elias Tsapelas with the Show-Me Institute argues Missouri shouldn’t treat the money the federal government would pay as free money. It’s still taxpayers’ money, he said.

And then there’s the portion Missouri has to pay — more than $200 million, according to the state auditor. 

But Jack Cardetti with Healthcare for Missouri argues Missouri is already contributing to expanded Medicaid in dozens of others states through federal taxes, but getting little in return. Missourians, he said, should bring that money back into the state. 

Even traditionally conservative states like Indiana, Arkansas and most recently Oklahoma have expanded Medicaid because, according to Cardetti, it’s not a liberal or conservative issue. 

Kansas U.S. Senate Race

Helling and Holt were also joined by The Star’s Colleen Nelson to talk about the Kansas Senate race and one candidate’s record-setting fundraising. 

Democrat Barbara Bollier raised more in three months than any candidate in Kansas history for federal, state or local office, according to her campaign. Her campaign took $3.7 million in contributions from April through June. 

The current state senator, who once ran as a Republican, is running for the Democratic nomination for Kansas’ open U.S. Senate seat. 

Republicans candidates Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall are spending their campaign money fighting against each other, Nelson said. After the primary, the Republican nominee will have to start fundraising again.

Bollier likely won’t have to worry about that, Nelson said. 

And Bollier appears to be gaining popularity in Johnson County, Kansas’ most populous county and the same area that elected Democrat Sharice Davids to the U.S. House in 2018, Helling noted. 

But at the end of the day, Kansas is still a Republican state, Nelson said. It’s the Republicans race to lose — but Bollier could give them a run for their money. 

Hear more from Holt, Helling and all of this week’s guests in the video player above. 

FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

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