By Jonathan Shorman

Gov. Sam Brownback endorsed the federal health care legislation backed by House GOP leaders in a letter his office released Thursday after a planned vote on the bill was called off.

Brownback, along with seven other governors, urged passage of the bill, known as the American Health Care Act, in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Transformational change from a 'free' entitlement where all rules are made in Washington to a true state-driven healthcare system will not be easy and will take coordinated effort from government and all sectors of the healthcare industry," the governors wrote.

In Washington, legislative leaders were scrambling to put together enough support to pass the bill in the House. Democrats vehemently oppose the bill, and a number of conservative Republicans have said they won't support it because they don't think it goes far enough.

A planned vote on the bill for Thursday night was canceled, but a debate could still come Friday.

Brownback released his letter on the same day a Kansas Senate panel advanced legislation that would expand Medicaid in Kansas. The letter says the 2010 federal health law championed by President Barack Obama expanded Medicaid "in a way that diverts resources away from the program's core mission."

In addition to Brownback, the letter was signed by the governors of Indiana, Alabama, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri and Utah.

(c)2017 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)