By Sherman Smith | Jan. 23, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning defended Thursday the decision to remove work requirements from his negotiated compromise on Medicaid expansion, saying the restrictions are a waste of energy that won’t withstand scrutiny by courts or federal regulators.

Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, joined health care advocates and professionals who testified in favor of legislation he crafted with Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

More than 50 observers filled a standing-room-only meeting of the Public Health and Welfare Committee for the first legislative hearing in two years on the expansion of health care access through the Affordable Care Act.

Under the Denning-Kelly plan, Kansans who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level would be eligible for Medicaid, unlocking federal cash that would pay for 90% of services. Those who sign up for the plan would pay a $25 monthly fee per person, with a household cap of $100 per month.

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