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March 18, 2013
TOPEKA A Senate panel voted today to advance favorably a bill that would shift regulatory power from KHIE, Inc. to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
KHIE is the entity created in 2010 to oversee the digital exchange of patient records.
State officials have said they could regulate the exchange networks without requiring additional funding. The shift also has been endorsed by the KHIE, Inc. board of directors.
Members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee agreed to three minor changes to Senate Bill 210, before passing it out.
They voted to expand the advisory council the bill would create from 22 to 23 members. The additional member would be a representative of the state's community mental health centers.
They also changed the composition of the council to include a representative of the Kansas Optometric Association in place of a representative of a local public health department. The bill as initially received by the committee from the House called for two public health department representatives on the council.
A third amendment to the bill would prohibit the use of state general fund dollars to pay for the state's new regulatory role.
All three amendments were offered by Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican.
The committee first heard testimony on the proposal last week.
In other action today the committee:
Heard testimony in support of House Bill 2343, which would allow KDHE to assess fees for laboratory testing services. Leo Henning, director of the KDHE laboratories, said the agency last year had processed more than 185,000 laboratory samples, including screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, mumps and influenza. The agency also does tests of public drinking water for various municipalities and radiation tests for Wolf Creek, the state's sole commercial nuclear power plant.
In response to questions from Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, Henning said the agency hadn't yet developed a possible fee schedule for its services but that it did not anticipate charging local public health departments for lab tests done on their behalf.
He said whatever fee structure the agency put in place would come after consultation with the various entities that rely on the lab. He said most likely the fees would be assessed against doctors, hospitals and other private medical providers.
No one spoke against the bill.
Committee members also continued discussion of Senate Bill 194, a proposal that would alter the role of the Community Developmental Disability Organizations in providing "functional assessments" of developmentally disabled persons seeking Medicaid services.
Some critics of the way the assessments currently are done have said it presents a potential conflict of interest if a CDDO assesses a person's needs and then turns around and provides the services it has recommended for the client.
Shawn Sullivan, secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, told committee members - in response to questions - that his agency had heard from people concerned about the potential for conflicts of interest but had not found evidence that they were, in fact, a significant problem.
Sullivan at an earlier hearing said the agency was neutral on the bill.
The committee did not act on the bill and may not after the proposal appeared to meet resistance from at least a couple of panel members.
"Are we premature in acting on this?" asked Sen. Jacob LaTurner, a Pittsburg Republican. "I would just say we need to act on the facts and not the perceptions."
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