Too Good to Be True: Governor Kelly’s Medicaid Expansion Scam

Like the Shamwow! or the Slap Chop, Governor Kelly is popping up all over the place trying to sell a product she claims can do anything! That product is Medicaid Expansion and the people of Kansas are
seemingly stuck in the Governor’s never-ending infomercial.

Medicaid expansion is taxpayer-funded healthcare for able-bodied working adults with no dependents.
But if you believe the Governor’s pitch, there’s more! So far, the Governor has claimed expansion will
save rural hospitals, prevent crime, grow the economy, lower all healthcare costs, save family farms,
increase access to child care and that’s not all! If Kansas signs up for expansion now, the Governor will
even throw in work requirements. All at the low low price of NOTHING! That’s right, Governor Kelly
claims you can get all this and more for free! Don’t wait, just pass it now.

With all due respect to the Hair Club for Men and the Thighmaster, when it comes to infomercials- if it
sounds too good to be true, it likely is. The same goes for Governor Kelly and her Medicaid Expansion

I want to dig a little deeper into this subject and provide more context than you’d get in an infomercial
for Oxiclean. Medicaid is a dual state and federal program. Currently in Kansas, this program already
covers disabled individuals, low-income parents, low-income seniors, and low-income kids. In addition,
those over the age of 65 are covered by Medicare, a separate federal program. And as seen on TV, low-
income individuals not covered by Medicaid are eligible for free to low-cost insurance under the
Affordable Care Act.

As explained, the truly needy are already covered and Medicaid Expansion does not expand benefits or increase services to the elderly or the disability community. You’re probably wondering who does
expansion cover. Simply put, expansion would extend tax-payer-funded healthcare to able-bodied adults ages 19-64.

After five years in office, Governor Kelly has come to realize that Kansas taxpayers aren’t interested in
paying for health coverage for 30-year-old Jimmy who chooses not to get a job and spends his days
drinking Code Red Mountain Dew and playing video games in his parents’ basement. In an attempt to
mislead the public, the Governor has released a new plan with claims as dubious as those made by Miss
Cleo. Let’s look at some of these.

First off, the Governor claims her expansion plan would have work requirements. There are several
problems here. For one, the bill doesn’t contain a real work requirement. You could work as little as one
hour in a year to satisfy the requirement. In addition, there are numerous exemptions to the work
requirement including a hardship exemption where the Kelly administration could just let anyone have a

The biggest concern with the work requirement is that it would never actually go into effect. Remember that Medicaid is a dual federal/state program. Any work requirement would have to be approved by the Biden administration. The Biden administration doesn’t like work requirements and has struck down attempts by 13 other states to impose them. Governor Kelly knows this, it’s why she’s inserted a provision that ensures if the Biden administration shuts down the work requirements, the expansion program would still go into effect.

The Governor also claims she can deliver expansion at a cost lower than $99.99. In fact, her latest claim
is that expansion will be free. Yes, you heard that right. The truth is a little bit different. Part of the cost
would be shouldered by a new tax on hospitals. Of course, those costs would be passed on to the
patients, meaning you the citizens of Kansas. The Governor claims the rest of the costs would be
covered by drug rebates, but these rebates are currently used to cover costs for people already on
Medicaid such as low-income pregnant women and people with disabilities. These costs would have to
be backfilled with taxpayer dollars. In addition, states that have expanded Medicaid have experienced
cost overruns that have exceeded projections by a third. This budget-busting expense would need to be
covered by either tax increases or cuts to other important services.

Our rural communities are vital and the Governor is using them to try and gain support for her plan by
claiming it will save rural hospitals. Again, this is not true. The vast majority of expansion dollars would
flow to the largest hospitals in the biggest cities. That’s why these hospitals are pushing so hard for
expansion. Experience in expansion states has shown that it is not a cure-all for rural hospitals. For
example, an independent study found Montana was ranked worst in the nation for at-risk rural hospitals
AFTER they expanded Medicaid. In fact, despite the claims of expansion advocates that it would save
hospitals, twenty hospitals have closed in expansion states across the country.

I could continue picking apart the Governor’s plan but it’s time to stop the insanity and focus on
solutions. There are truly needy people in this state who could use more support. Over the past 8 years,
the legislature has increased funding for the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled Community
(I/DD) by $234.2 million. In addition, the legislature has provided increased funding for the I/DD
Community Support Waiver and increased funding for mental health. Republicans in the legislature are
focused on the I/DD community and finding solutions to actually help rural hospitals while the Governor
remains focused on pushing the failed policies of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and other DC

I have to give the Governor credit, not since the heyday of Richard Simmons has someone used so much energy to pitch a product. Unfortunately, the product is a gimmick-laden scam on the Kansas taxpayers. Medicaid expansion is a bad product and a bad fit for Kansas. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the facts. It’s time to put down the phone and change the channel to actual solutions.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, KS Speaker of the House

Dan Hawkins of Wichita serves House District 100 and is Speaker of the Kansas House.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
George Pisani

Regarding Rep. Dan Hawkins’s article on the Governor’s bogus claims about her Medicaid proposal, I think that if actually PASSED, the revised Medicaid plan would de facto extend State Medicaid benefits to the growing herd of homeless “campers” living (for reasons mostly involving addictions and/or felonies) outside of existing formal shelters.

So, as Rep. Hawkins states, “expansion would extend tax-payer-funded healthcare to able-bodied adults ages 19-64.” And the expansion would be left in place after the Biden administration inevitably bars the work requirement.

It could validly be argued by supporters that many of these “campers” are able-bodied. Uh-huh… I suppose it could also be argued that the Earth is flat. And as to the actual employability of most people “experiencing homelessness” (makes it sound like a Disney outing, eh?), if they were employable, wouldn’t they be working?

Kansas City has experimented with hiring some of their homeless population to work in a Clean Up KC project. . I’ve not recently seen any news about the overall (or lack of) success that effort; recent feedback would be quite useful. And the tasks performed by homeless who were accepted into the program were well-supervised and required no real skills– just admirable self-motivation. It also didn’t seem like long-term work.

But Rep. Dan Hawkins’s article reads as if under Kelly’s proposed Medicaid expansion, Kansas taxpayers (i.e., those of us who eventually pay the costs of Medicaid) would get nothing but a smile; and maybe another worthless government attaboy award.

With a sail like Kelly, the KS ship of state needs no anchor.