Policy & Research


2020 Kansas Legislative Preview (January 2020)

Medicaid expansion proposals await Legislature’s return

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon, Peter F. H. Barstad | January 09, 2020

2020 Kansas Legislative Preview (January 2020)


Legislators will be back at work on January 13, with several health-related issues to address during the 2020 session. Our annual Legislative Preview provides an in-depth discussion of some of the issues most likely to receive attention by the Legislature.  Here is a quick summary:

Gov. Laura Kelly has repeatedly stated that Medicaid expansion is one of her top priorities, and legislators likely will hear multiple proposals over the next few months. Kelly announced the creation of the Governor's Council on Medicaid Expansion on September 4, 2019.

A budget proviso, based on the recommendation in a report by the Mental Health Task Force, directs the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to review costs and reimbursement rates for behavioral health services and report the findings to the Legislature in January. Legislators may be asked to consider funding higher rates for mental health and substance abuse disorders, depending on the findings. In addition, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services must submit a plan to end the current freeze on voluntary admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital and increase the number of staffed beds available for involuntary patients.

Kansas is now bordered by three states that have legalized either recreational or medical marijuana. In October, the Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs approved a recommendation that the judiciary committees of both chambers look at legislation that would provide an affirmative defense to residents of other states who legally obtain medical cannabis and are in possession of it while traveling through Kansas. Gov. Kelly has stated she supports the legalization of medical marijuana, provided it is well-regulated.

President Trump signed a new law, which raises the legal age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21. It will take effect this summer. Legislators also may be asked to consider ways to decrease or discourage the use of e-cigarettes by Kansas youth. Over the summer and fall, the Kansas State Board of Education, alongside public school officials and KDHE, produced educational materials for distribution at the beginning of the current school year to teachers, students and parents. It is likely legislators will discuss modifications to the Indoor Clean Air Act and the ban of flavored e-cigarette products.

In addition, private health insurance, the child welfare system and food taxes are just a few of the health-related topics legislators likely will be asked to address in 2020.

A clarification was made to Figure 5 after the printing of this issue brief to indicate amounts are in millions. Online version reflects these changes.

The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.