If it passes, the bipartisan Medicaid deal would represent a signature achievement for Kelly and Denning, extending health care coverage to upwards of 130,000 low-income Kansans. But Republican opponents have for weeks thwarted action on the measure, in response to the Legislature's failure to advance an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution.
Wagle, aided by the Republican chairman of the
The back-to-back joint events, in Wagle's political backyard of
Kelly and Denning have signaled they have support from 23 of the 24 senators required to free the proposal from committee. Once on the floor, the bill needs 21 votes to pass.
"We all know we have an issue with the
Under the Affordable Care Act, states that expand eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (
"To take the friction out of the system, I would like to pass this Medicaid bill, get it off the table," Denning said. "And then we can take the rest of our resources and concentrate on what it will take to pass that abortion amendment."
Kelly and Denning's joint appearances, at
Over the weekend, three past
Wagle, who is running for
"Government-run healthcare isn't working. If it was, legislators would have the support to bring it to a vote without my consent," Wagle said in a statement, alluding to the 24 votes expansion supporters are seeking.
"Thankfully, a strong majority of my pro-life colleagues know a vote for this program is a vote against our most vulnerable Kansans and a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions," Wagle continued.
In her statement, Wagle didn't name Denning, instead referring to the "Kelly experiment." She vowed to not expand a "broken program with the Kelly experiment just to get the immediate applause" while leaving vulnerable Kansans "caught in the political crossfire."
Wagle on Monday received a boost from
As the standoff over abortion and Medicaid continues, the growing focus on expansion suggests amendment supporters have made little progress in flipping votes.
When the House voted on the amendment last month, it fell four votes short of the two-thirds support needed to send it a statewide ballot. No Democrat backed the measure and four
"Those four votes are not moving anywhere," Denning said.
Kansans for Life will have to renegotiate the wording of the amendment or move the date of the election, Denning said. Currently, if the Legislature approves the amendment, it will go to a statewide vote during the August primary election.
Some lawmakers who voted against the amendment said they would be more likely to support it if the vote was set for the November general election, which typically features higher turnout. Amendment supporters said it has the best of chance of passing in August. Kansans for Life on Monday reiterated its opposition to Medicaid expansion until the Legislature approves the amendment.
Kelly, speaking in
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