Kelly vetoes ‘junk’ health insurance bill, calls for Medicaid expansion

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TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill Wednesday designed to extend duration of so-called “junk” short-term health insurance plans and renewed her commitment to expanding Medicaid to provide coverage to lower-income Kansans.

The House easily approved Senate Bill 29, but the House narrowly adopted the legislation extending opportunities for people to rely on stop-gap insurance policies that often don’t cover pre-existing conditions. In 2017, President Donald Trump maneuvered to let companies selling six-month or 12-month health insurance policies in Kansas to expand reach of those policies for up to three years.


Kelly, a Democrat seeking re-election, said the bill affirmed the necessity of expanding eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

She said acceptance of Medicaid expansion — a policy blocked by the Republican-led House and Senate — would deliver preventative health care to as many as 165,000 Kansans, bring thousands of jobs to the state, protect financially vulnerable rural hospitals and inject millions in federal funding into the state’s economy.

“Junk insurance, which doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions or provide consumer protections, is just that: junk,” the governor said. “Signing this bill would cause more Kansas families to go bankrupt over medical bills. If the Legislature wants to get serious about improving access to health care, they should join 38 other states and the District of Columbia and pass Medicaid expansion.”

The 2021 Legislature is scheduled to convene May 26 for the ceremonial conclusion of the annual session, but have the option of attempting to pass bills or overrides of a governor’s veto.

The House and Senate passed the bill on May 7, but only the Senate approved the legislation with a veto-proof, two-thirds majority. The Senate vote was 29-11, while the House voted 68-51 for the bill.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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