Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed a bill Thursday that proposed expanding Medicaid,
the government-run health program that provides insurance primarily to pregnant women, single parents
, people with disabilities, and seniors with low incomes.
“I am vetoing this expansion of Obamacare because it fails to serve the truly vulnerable before the able-bodied, lacks work requirements to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, and burdens the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs,” Brownback said in a statement.
Lawmakers have been trying to expand the program under a provision of the Affordable Care Act that opens eligibility up to any adult living under 138% of the federal poverty level — an income of $US27,821 for a family of three in 2016.
Thirty-two states, including the District of Columbia, have chosen to participate, leading to more than 11 million people nationwide gaining coverage.
In Kansas, the bill’s supporters, a bipartisan coalition of moderate Republicans and the state’s Democrats, are expected to attempt to override Brownback’s veto. The Kansas House passed the bill in February by a margin of 81-44 and the Senate passed it on Tuesday by a margin of 25-14.
In order to override Brownback’s veto, the legislature would be need an additional three votes in the House and an additional two votes in the Senate, which many of the bill’s supporters have acknowledged would be a tall order.
“If the governor vetoes, we’ll try to get the votes for an override,” Barbara Bollier, a first-term senator representing several Kansas City suburbs and a retired physician, told Business Insider on Tuesday, prior to the veto.
“It would be a monumental task, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible,” she added.
Sen. John Doll, a moderate Republican elected in 2016 amidst a public backlash against Brownback’s conservative policies, told Business Insider earlier this week that he thinks the House will be able to override, but he’s sceptical the Senate will be able to garner the two votes.
A major supporter of the bill, Doll said that he thinks many opposing senators can’t move past the Medicaid expansion’s association with the Affordable Care Act.
“Some of us can’t get past the origination of the law,” Dolls said. “We’ve got to look past parties and look at policies. We need a big lesson that at every level of government, but especially state and federal. We need to look at what’s good for the people.”
A public opinion poll conducted by the American Cancer Society in January found that 82% of Kansans support the Medicaid expansion. Several other polls from recent months put the number closer to 62%. Still, it has been hampered, its supporters say, by its association with the Affordable Care Act.
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