For years now this paper has advocated for the expansion of Medicaid, our position strengthening each month as data from expansion states proves the health and economic benefits. This week, the House and Senate will hold a joint committee meeting to discuss moving forward with expansion legislation.

Their work should be easy. The remedy is known. The Kansas Legislature needs to send the governor a full expansion bill in January that doesn’t include gimmicks, lockouts and delay tactics.

Playing politics with the health of uninsured Kansans and struggling hospitals is irresponsible. Those with the power in the House and Senate to move legislation forward need to ensure a clean bill is presented to both chambers for a vote.

Kansans have waited for years for the adoption of Medicaid expansion. Under the Brownback administration, expansion was passed by both chambers with votes from Republicans and Democrats. Brownback vetoed it. This past year, a bill passed the House chamber, again with bipartisan support, only to be stopped by Republican leadership in the Senate.

Let’s be clear, the majority of the Senate and House chambers support expansion and have voted for it multiple times, only to be stymied by Brownback and Senate leadership.

Actions by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning to produce a new bill using complicated waivers — ones the federal government hasn’t approved for other states — serves only to strain community health systems even longer.

Growing data shows how Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act has produced the benefits we’ve heard touted for years. The Kaiser Family Foundation published in August an issue brief that summarized findings from 324 studies about state Medicaid expansions under the ACA. The report highlighted reductions in uncompensated care costs for hospitals and clinics, while a growing number of studies show an association between expansion and gains in employment, as well as growth in the labor market.

Last month, the Senate’s special committee heard HaysMed CEO Eddie Herman testify about organization's $5 million in uncompensated care annually. His situation isn't unique. Every hospital in Kansas can testify to staggering amounts of uncompensated care that expansion would help offset, freeing up cash hospitals can use to invest in new equipment, hire more doctors, and upgrade facilities to improve care for every patient.

The Kaiser report also highlights that Medicaid expansion states experienced significant coverage gains and reductions in uninsured rates among the low-income population broadly and within specific vulnerable populations. Expansion improved access to care, use of services, affordability of care and financial security among the low-income population. Further, it produced numerous economic outcomes, including state budget savings, revenue gains and overall economic growth.

When expansion advocates testify to the merits of this policy, it’s not just lip service. The data clearly shows expansion benefits local economies and the health care system.

We can’t continue to play politics on health care. There’s a clear solution — straight expansion for people with an annual gross income up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.