U.S. Senate nominees, both physicians, offer conflicting diagnosis of Medicaid expansion

By: - August 18, 2020 3:50 pm
U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier, middle right, said Tuesday on a conference call with other Kansas Democratic candidates that Republican Senate nominee Roger Marshall ill-advisedly opposed expansion of Medicaid services in Kansas during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Bollier, middle right, said Tuesday on a conference call with other Kansas Democratic candidates that Republican Senate nominee Roger Marshall ill-advisedly opposed expansion of Medicaid services in Kansas during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Barbara Bollier sought Tuesday to highlight GOP nominee Roger Marshall’s opposition to Medicaid expansion in Kansas and to federal legislation strengthening access to health coverage supported by the Affordable Care Act.

Bollier, a state senator from Mission Hills and a retired anesthesiologist, said during a conference call with other Kansas Democratic candidates for federal office that she had been a consistent advocate for Medicaid expansion and upgrading the ACA.

“The number one issue I hear about from Kansans is health care. That is why it is at the top of my list,” Bollier said. “I have an opponent who says do not expand Medicaid. We can do so much better as Kansans. We must move forward with health care reform.””

She said Marshall was wrong to campaign for repeal of Obamacare, which granted states an opportunity to broaden eligibility for Medicaid to low- and moderate-income families. Kansas is among a dozen states that has declined to extend the reach of Medicaid under the ACA.

On Monday, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said expansion would be beneficial to as many as 150,000 Kansans. She said there was significance in passage of Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Missouri and Oklahoma, and that she hadn’t given up on comparable reform in Kansas.

Marshall, a Great Bend physician who represents the 1st District in the U.S. House, voted as a congressman to repeal the ACA and offered testimony to the Kansas Legislature against Medicaid expansion. He led a group of conservative Republican House members in development of a proposed alternative to the ACA that preserved the popular coverage of pre-existing conditions but diluted much of the federal law.

In June, the Democratic-led House approved a bill that would deepen ACA benefits and provide financial inducements for holdout states to expand eligibility. Marshall joined U.S. Reps. Steve Watkins, of the 2nd District, and Ron Estes, of the 4th District in voting against that bill. U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the 3rd District Democrat, cast the delegation’s only vote on behalf of the bill.

The measure sent to the Senate on a 234-179 vote would guarantee women could remain eligible for Medicaid coverage for 12 months after giving birth. It would remove a Trump administration rule that enabled the sale of skimpy 12-month health insurance plans.

It also would allow federal health officials to negotiate the price of prescription drugs under Medicare, a provision that Bollier endorsed.

Bollier, speaking on a call tied to the virtual edition of the Democratic National Convention, said she was disappointed Marshall didn’t embrace the idea of using the market power of Medicare to reduce the cost of medicine in the United States.

“We’ve got to move that forward, because we know that as Medicare pricing goes, so goes the rest of our prices in this country on health care,” she said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

MORE FROM AUTHOR