TOPEKA, Kan. — Several Republicans and Democrats running for the Kansas Legislature want to change the state’s policy so that people with disabilities don’t have to sacrifice their Medicaid benefits if they earn more money.
Seven Shawnee County candidates running for state office and two candidates for federal office participated in a forum Wednesday, The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/2dxjn15 ) reported.
Several candidates agreed that the state shouldn’t decrease aid when a person with disabilities makes more than $725 per month. There was a consensus among those candidates that assistance shouldn’t decrease unless an individual’s income surpassed the federal poverty level of $990 a month.
“I can’t see how anyone can live on that kind of income,” said Democratic state Rep. Jim Gartner. “I believe we need to move to the federal level.”
Some candidates urged the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Republican Sen. Vicki Schmidt and Democratic challenger Candace Ayars denounced state tax law that strips the treasury of cash that could have assisted the disabled. Republican legislators slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s urging in an effort to stimulate the economy, and the state has struggled to balance its budget since.
“It’s causing hardships that shouldn’t be there,” Ayars said. “I understand firsthand what it’s like to struggle and cobble together the resources in order to keep loved ones in their home and let them age in place.”
If Medicaid eligibility were expanded in Kansas, health coverage could be extended to an estimated 150,000 low-income residents. Kansas has among the nation’s most restrictive income limits for enrollment in the program, which is open to children, parents, elderly people, pregnant women and people with disabilities.
Along with Gartner and Ayars, other Democrats participating in the forum were state House candidate Chris Huntsman, Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley and U.S. House candidate Britani Potter.
This story has been corrected to show that Candace Ayars is a Democratic challenger for a state Senate seat, not an incumbent.
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com