TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) — Governor-elect Laura Kelly plans to push forward with her plans to expand Medicaid in Kansas, despite a federal court striking down the Affordable Care Act late last week.
The incoming Democrat “does not anticipate Friday’s ruling affecting her approach to Medicaid expansion,” Kelly’s Press Secretary Laura Kelly told 13 NEWS.
On Friday, the future of Medicaid expansion was placed into doubt when U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that last year’s tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under “Obamacare” by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage. In his 55-page decision, O’Connor said the penalty, also known as the Individual Mandate, could not be separated from the ACA and, thus, the entire law – including the provisions expanding Medicaid – was invalid.
Shortly after the verdict, the White House a statement that said even though “(t)he judge’s decision vindicates President Trump’s position that Obamacare is unconstitutional,” they expect the decision to be appealed and until the issue is settled “the law remains in place.”
On Monday, the Dept. of Health and Human Services affirmed the judge’s decision does not require them to make any changes to its policies at this time and it will still administer and enforce the law as it had previously.
Medicaid expansion passed the Legislature in 2017 with strong bipartisan support, only to be blocked Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. The Legislature fell three votes shorts of the number needed to override his veto.
Kelly already faced an uphill climb to get expansion passed. Last month’s elections increased the number of strong conservative lawmakers to the Statehouse, at the expense of moderates who would be more likely to side with Democrats to pass a bill, which could provide health coverage to about 150,000 more low-income adults. Kelly had promised a working group to create a bi-partisan plan.