Kansas Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer said preparations to ascend into the role of governor continued Thursday as the U.S. Senate took another step toward confirming Gov. Sam Brownback for a federal job in Washington, D.C.
“This is something you always have to be prepared for, whether you’re the vice president or the lieutenant governor,” Colyer said. “What I’ve been doing is listening and collaborating with a lot of Kansans the last few months.”
“When I’m talking with my Kansas friends and people on the street,” he said, “they’re really seeing some things that can happen over the next few years.”
Colyer addressed his likely transition to governor in context of Brownback’s nomination to be ambassador of international religious freedom under President Donald Trump. A U.S. Senate committee Thursday voted 11-10 to endorse Brownback’s selection, which must also be affirmed by the full Senate.
Colyer appeared on C-SPAN’s series devoted to the “50 Capitals Tour.” He participated in the Washington Journal interview program from a studio located inside C-SPAN’s 45-foot motor bus. The bus is used to engage elected officials, teachers, students and community members in coverage of government.
In the interview, Colyer explained why the Brownback administration blocked expansion of Medicaid eligibility under provisions of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama.
The Medicaid program in Kansas, known as KanCare, serves about 400,000 people who are disabled, poor or elderly.
KanCare has improved medical outcomes, reduced waiting lists and bent the cost curve, he said.
“We’ve been working very hard to reform the Medicaid program,” Colyer said. “We’re trying to focus on outcomes. It’s been tough because there’s just a lot of oversight. What we’d really like is the flexibility so we can work with the Kansas Legislature, the local docs and nurses, so we can get the best system that really serves our patients.”
Colyer, a Johnson County surgeon, cut back his medical practice since elected lieutenant governor in 2010.
“Lieutenant governor is an amazing job,” he said. “I have one of the coolest jobs in North America, because you can really see what’s going on in the state.”