The battle over Obamacare's most popular program just hit a wall in a key state

Kansas lawmakers on Monday failed to override Republican Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of a bill that would have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

The Kansas House voted 81-44 to override Brownback's veto, three votes short of the necessary majority needed.

Brownback vetoed a bill last week that proposed expanding Medicaid, the government-run health program that provides insurance primarily to pregnant women, single parents, people with disabilities, and seniors with low incomes.

"I am vetoing this expansion of Obamacare because it fails to serve the truly vulnerable before the able-bodied, lacks work requirements to help able-bodied Kansans escape poverty, and burdens the state budget with unrestrainable entitlement costs," Brownback said in a statement.

Lawmakers have been trying to expand the program under a provision of the Affordable Care Act that opens eligibility up to any adult living under 138% of the federal poverty level — an income of $27,821 for a family of three in 2016.

Thirty-two states, including the District of Columbia, have chosen to participate, leading to more than 11 million people nationwide gaining coverage.

The Kansas House passed the bill in February by the same margin of 81-44, and the Senate passed it on Tuesday by a margin of 25-14.

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Protests for and against Obamacare

Tea Party Patriots supporters hold signs protesting the Affordable Care Act in front of the Supreme Court as the court hears arguments on the health care reform bill on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Affordable Care Act supporters wave signs outside the Supreme Court after the court upheld court's Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A man holds signs during a protest on the second day of oral arguments for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building on March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today is the second of three days the high court has set aside to hear six hours of arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sister Caroline attends a rally with other supporters of religious freedom to praise the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby, contraception coverage requirement case on June 30, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which operates a chain of arts-and-craft stores, challenged the provision and the high court ruled 5-4 that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act violated a federal law protecting religious freedom.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

An Obamacare supporter counter protests a Tea Party rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in the morning hours of March 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court continued to hear oral arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Affordable Care Act supporters hold up signs outside the Supreme Court as they wait for the court's decision on Obamacare on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Ron Kirby holds a sign while marching in protest of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A protester waves his bible in the air as he overpowered by cheers from supporters of the Affordable Care Act as they celebrate the opinion for health care outside of the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday June 25, 2015. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans.

(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Nuns, who are opposed to the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, and other supporters rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell, a consolidated case brought by religious groups challenging a process for opting out of the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

(Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Supporters of contraception rally before Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Protestors hold placards challenging 'Obamacare' outside of the US Supreme Court on March 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court heard a second challenge to US President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The US Supreme Court faces a momentous case Wednesday on the sweeping health insurance reform law that President Barack Obama wants to leave as part of his legacy. The question before the court is whether the seven million people or more who subscribed via the government's website can obtain tax subsidies that make the coverage affordable. A ruling is expected in June.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

 Linda Door (L) protests against President Obama's health care plan in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. Today the high court, which has set aside six hours over three days, will hear arguments over the constitutionality President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court up held the law in the 6-3 vote at the Supreme Court in Washington June 25, 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

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In the lead up to the vote on the veto override, many of the bill's supporters acknowledged the tall order.

Sen. John Doll, a moderate Republican elected in 2016 amidst a public backlash against Brownback's conservative policies, told Business Insider on Thursday that garnering the two votes needed to override in the Senate would be "really difficult."

"I hope we are able to. I just don't see it," Doll said.

Barbara Bollier, a first-term senator representing several Kansas City suburbs and a retired physician, expressed hope that overwhelming public support for the bill could push some senators and representatives from no to yes.

A public opinion poll conducted by the American Cancer Society in January found that 82% of Kansans support the Medicaid expansion. Several other polls from recent months put the number closer to 62%. Still, it has been hampered, its supporters say, by its association with the Affordable Care Act.

A major supporter of the bill, Doll said that even if an override failed, public support would ensure that Medicaid expansion will be raised by lawmakers again, though probably not until the next legislative session.

"It will come before the legislature again and again until it becomes law. Or until [the ACA] is repealed in Washington," Doll said.

A major obstacle to the bill's passage is itsassociation with the ACA, according to Doll.

"Some of us can't get past the origination of the law," Doll said. "We've got to look past parties and look at policies. We need a big lesson that at every level of government, but especially state and federal. We need to look at what's good for the people."

In his veto memo, Brownback said that an increase in federal Medicaid funding would result in increased funding to abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood and said that because Kansas is "pro-life," he could not support the bill.

Bollier called Brownback's reasoning "disingenuous" and a "weak excuse," noting that amendments to the Medicaid expansion bill addressing funding to abortion providers were introduced in both chambers and were voted down because voters did not support the measures.

"The people have spoken. [Planned Parenthood is] not their issue," said Bollier. "We're a far cry from listening to the people right now."

Bollier also suggested that Brownback's objection to the bill's lack of work requirements for Medicaid recipients was a non-issue because the population gaining coverage is "the working poor."

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SEE ALSO: Check out our deep dive into the battle over the bill in Kansas here

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