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Minutes for SB252 - Committee on Public Health and Welfare

Short Title

Expanding medical assistance eligibility and implementing a health insurance plan reinsurance program.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 11, 2020

Chairman Suellentrop opened the meeting asking for discussion and testimony on SB252.

First to speak was Chuck Weber, Kansas Catholic Conference. (Attachment 1) He stated that the support of the Kansas Catholic Conference for Medicaid Expansion is contingent upon adoption of the following provisions:

  • Medicaid Expansion in Kansas shall exclude abortion beyond current provisions (Hyde Amendment) as a reimbursable service.
  • The "no Medicaid abortion" provision is virtually meaningless without the "Value Them Both" amendment excluding abortion as a constitutional right and asks that legislators provide Kansans the opportunity to vote on the "Value Them Both" amendment next August.
  • Medicaid Expansion shall include religious and professional conscience protections for healthcare institutions and individuals.

Paul Linton then spoke, via conference call. (Attachment 2)  In his testimony he stated  that declaring abortion to be among Kansans' fundamental rights, the Kansas Supreme Court adopted the strict scrutiny test as the standard of judicial review for all laws touching on abortion, "regardless of degree". Once a plaintiff proves such an infringement, "the government's action is presumed unconstitutional" and the burden shifts to the State to establish its compelling interest and narrow tailoring of the law to serve it. Given the overwhelming weight of state constitutional authority, it is a virtual certainty the Kansas restrictions on public funding of abortion would be struck down, if challenged on the basis of the opinion in Hodes.

He answered questions from committee members.

Brittany Jones spoke of her concern that without a constitutional amendment, Medicaid will be used as new funding stream for abortion. The Kansas Supreme Court created a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution in Hodes and Nauser v. Schmidt. This case now required that strict scrutiny, the highest level of scrutiny, be used in all cases dealing with abortion. Strict scrutiny requires that the state have a compelling interest before it can limit a fundamental right. One of Kansas' provisions most at risk because of this ruling is our prohibition on state funds going to pay for abortion. (Attachment 3)

She took questions from committee members.

Jeanne Gawdun stated that Kansans For Life recently changed its long-standing neutral position on Medicaid Expansion to opposition until such time as the Value Them Both Amendment is approved by both the Kansas House and Senate. KFL acknowledges that Medicaid Expansion  is a complicated issue, but it cannot be allowed that taxpayer funded abortions drastically increase in Kansas, which is an absolute certainty due to the Supreme Court's Hodes and Nauser v. Schmidt decision. (Attachment 4)

She then answered questions from committee members.

Chairman Suellentrop reviewed the upcoming agenda and adjourned the meeting at 10:18 a.m. The next scheduled meeting is February 12, 2020.