PITTSBURG — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced Wednesday she had signed an executive order creating the new Governor’s Council on Medicaid Expansion.

“This bipartisan group will include legislators, advocates, and health policy experts, and is tasked with supporting legislative efforts to find the best version of Medicaid expansion for Kansas,” according to the governor’s office.

In a press conference announcing the creation of the new council, Kelly said she is determined to ensure that Medicaid is expanded in Kansas in 2020.

During her travels around the state last year, “Kansans made it clear that this is a high priority,” Kelly said. “They want as many Kansans as possible to have access to affordable, high-quality health care. They want our hospitals supported, and they want the jobs Medicaid expansion will bring.”

Those appointed to the new 22-member council include Rep. Monica Murnan (D-Pittsburg).

“The Governor has committed to working across the aisle and with communities to expand access to health care for Kansans,” Murnan wrote in a statement to the Morning Sun. “This is her continued effort to do so, I'm proud to be chosen as one of the members of the council. I'm a firm believer in sitting down and working out details about what is factual and what is not. When we know all the facts, better decisions can be made. This issue is one that I have focused on since elected. We can't continue to work off of false information and soundbites.”

The new council “will bring together both new and veteran voices on Medicaid expansion and will be facilitated by a nonpartisan policy expert from the National Governor’s Association,” according to the governor’s office. “They will meet three times before the end of the year, providing an educational, transparent forum for public discussion on this important issue.”

The council “will not develop or endorse specific legislation,” according to the governor’s office. “Rather, they will study the costs and benefits associated with expansion models in other states, helping Kansas to avoid repeating some of the expensive, unnecessary mistakes that other states have made.”

In her comments to the Morning Sun, Murnan said Medicaid expansion will have a direct impact on the Pittsburg community and the local economy.

“The folks we are talking about are our friends and neighbors and this is money that would come directly into our community to support our existing health care system that serves us all,” Murnan wrote. “The hospital is for it, the chamber is for it, the health care providers are for it and the mental health system is for it. There are very few issues that have such broad support. I hope to bring the SEK perspective to this council and to share what I know about the nuts and bolts of expansion as it relates to real people and real jobs.”

In her comments Wednesday, Kelly said she continues to believe the Medicaid expansion plan she proposed last year “was the simplest, most common sense path forward – a plan that includes measures that promote self-sufficiency, a plan that includes safeguards to protect against exorbitant spending, and a plan that can be implemented effectively without undue costs or administrative burden.”

Kelly’s office noted, however, that others besides the recently appointed members of her new council are also looking into different approaches to Medicaid-related issues in the runup to the 2020 legislative session.

“There are other committees meeting over the interim to develop specific plans on Medicaid expansion, and Senate Majority Leader Denning has committed to bringing a bill to the Senate floor for a vote this coming January,” Kelly’s office noted. “The Governor welcomes those participants to this conversation and looks forward to seeing concrete ideas emerge in the form of a bill draft.”