Kansas Lawmakers May Expand Medicaid If...

May 21, 2015 AT 10:09 AM

Some legislators are considering the possibility of eliminating the state’s earned income tax credit in exchange for expanding its Medicaid program.

“That’s being shopped around, big time,” said Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat.

“There’s been discussion of that, yes,” said Rep. Don Hill, an Emporia Republican.

Kelly and Hill, who serve on their respective chambers’ health and budget committees, declined to say which legislators are promoting the would-be deal.

“What’s being said is that there might be an opportunity for it to be used as a lever when things get to a point of having to get some people to vote for something they wouldn’t vote for otherwise,” Hill said.

In recent weeks, legislators have intensified efforts to come up with more than $400 million needed to balance the state’s budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Kansas Constitution prohibits the state from spending more than it expects to collect in revenue.

Most conservatives in the Legislature favor reducing or eliminating the state’s earned income tax credit but oppose expanded eligibility for Medicaid, which was part of the Affordable Care Act. Kansas is one of 21 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage to more low-income residents.

Conversely, most moderates and liberals favor Medicaid expansion and support the earned income tax credit. Conservatives control the House and Senate leadership offices.

Throughout this year’s legislative session, the Kansas Hospital Association has urged legislators to expand Medicaid, saying that it would close a gap in the Affordable Care Act that blocks an estimated 85,000 uninsured Kansans from being eligible for Medicaid or receiving federal subsidies for offsetting the cost of private insurance.

Medicaid expansion also would benefit the state’s economy and provide relief for some struggling rural hospitals, according to the hospital association.

View Full Story From Kansas Health Institute