Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Colyer and the Medicaid Expansion Conundrum

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Colyer and the Medicaid Expansion Conundrum

Word on the street is that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer is ready to cave on Medicaid expansion. This is abject gossip, and I'm putting it here, because someone needs to say it and it looks like no one else will.
(I call this taking one for the team, which means there will be no Miss Congeniality tiaras in my future. Sigh.)

There is no issue more important to the future of Kansas and even the nation right now than Medicaid expansion. I won't bore you with the details of why I believe this to be true. I'll simply say -- getting entwined in a long-term social welfare program is a terrible idea because math. And getting in bed with the federal government for the promise of extra funding never ends well.

Brownback is leaving. Full stop. Unless someone in the Senate digs up a dead puppy scandal, Brownback is headed to Washington to fight for religious freedom. That's probably best for all of us. 

Colyer is going to be the next Governor of Kansas for at least the next year, and if he wants to continue on in the role, he's going to HAVE to distance himself from Brownback. It's an unreasonable demand from a very uneducated public, but it's true. 

Colyer could attempt to step to the right of Brownback, perhaps by limiting some of Brownback's beloved economic development tools, like PEAK and STAR Bonds. But that would mean no ribbon cuttings for things like horse arenas in KCK and medical clinics for state employees in Topeka. (And potentially campaign checks from one of Kansas' biggest companies.) The clinic and the horse arena are already happening, but there are still lots of options, like a southwest Johnson County airport that could mean one of the biggest ribbon cuttings and accomplishments in recent memory. (It.is.killing.me.not.to.write.about.this, but stay tuned.)

The challenge with Colyer stepping to the right of Brownback is a guy named Kris Kobach. Kobach probably has that market all locked up. Colyer is going to have to go big and go Left or go home, and nothing is bigger or lefter than Medicaid expansion. 

Here's the crux: There aren't enough votes to override Medicaid expansion in the Kansas Legislature, but there are more than enough to pass it, and Colyer can allow it to become law without his signature. This is what I've heard he'll do as long as the legislation includes three things. I do not know what those three things are, but that's the rumor. If a Medicaid expansion bill crosses Colyer's desk with the magical three beans (whatever those are) he will allow it to become law without his signature.

I have a theory as to what one of those magic beans is: a federal waiver that would allow Kansas to tie Medicaid to work for able-bodied adults. 

Kansas already has work requirements for its welfare program and that has paid dividends, but Kansas isn't in control of whether the federal government grants such a waiver. That decision is dependent on the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the federal government. Right now, there is no HHS Secretary, because swamp thing Tom Price decided to fly around on private jets drinking champagne instead of riding in steerage on commercial flights. So there's that. But also, there are no guarantees that Republicans will hold the office of President beyond the next three years. Whatever the feds giveth, they can taketh away, and a Democratic President will have zero qualms about yanking Kansas' waiver. 

Colyer has always struck me as very sincere in his distaste for Medicaid expansion, so I hope what I'm hearing is so much idle gossip and a fear of the unknown. Medicaid expansion is bad policy and crippling to Kansas' budget long term. I'm putting this out there so that you, dear voters and activists, can rally your representatives and senators and the LG himself on the off chance there's any truth to the rumors. 


  1. Colyer is just another doctor who got rich off of the suffering masses.

    The GD insurance companies and DOKTORS are taking every dime my family has.

    I am working like a dog to page huge premiums and deductibles and it still isn't enough.

    I don't know how much longer I can take it...

  2. Same "3 magic beans" spelled out in the first sentence of Brownback's veto message: