KHI News Service

Agreement reached on health care package

By Dave Ranney | May 12, 2011

About four and a half hours after House and Senate negotiators said there was little hope for settling their differences on a catch-all health bill, they cut a deal.

“We’re all in agreement,” said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, chairwoman of the House Health and Human Services Committee. “This has been really tough. We’ve both had a lot of issues on the table that were important to a lot of folks.”

The two sides agreed Thursday afternoon to blend 12 health-related bills into a single measure, House Bill 2182.

The new bill includes language for allowing a charitable, cigar-oriented fundraising event in Wichita sought by Landwehr, who, in turn, dropped her demand for a Senate vote on a bill that would ban smoking in state-owned casinos.

It also includes a statutory version of the Health Care Freedom Act, saying that no person, provider or employer can be forced to participate in any health care system or to purchase insurance.

Other components:

• HB 2241, which would allow limited dental franchising in the state.

• SB 216, which deals with emergency medical attendant licensing.

• SB 133, which would harmonize state and federal medical privacy laws.

• SB 33, which would require secondary school officials to immediately remove from sporting events athletes suspected of suffering a concussion or other head injury.

• SB 76, which concerns the licensing of physical therapists.

• SB 100, which concerns the licensing of addiction counselors.

• SB 134, which concerns advanced practice nursing.

• SB 138, which would require pharmacy auditors to give advance notice.

• Initital provisions in HB 2182 which would allow mail order pharmacies physically located outside Kansas, but licensed in the state, to donate unused prescription medications to safety net clinics.

• SB 139, which would create a trauma advisory committee.

The new bill is unusually broad in scope.

“The problem was we just didn’t have enough vehicles to divide them out into smaller conference committee reports,” Landwehr said.

“That will upset a few people, probably,” said Rep. Geraldine Flaharty, D-Wichita, who also was on the House bargaining team.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on HB 2182 later this evening.

"I think it'll pass," Landwehr said. "There are a lot of things in here that are important."