With the start of the 2019 Kansas legislative session, Kansas Health Institute (KHI) staff will prepare a brief summary of the highlights of each week of the session, with a specific focus on the activities of committees addressing health policy related issues. Sign up here to receive these summaries and more, and also follow KHI on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Previous editions of Health at the Capitol can be found on our ARCHIVE PAGE.
February 11 was the last official day for bill introductions in non-exempt committees.
On February 14, the House debated Gov. Kelly’s proposal for a 30-year re-amortization of amounts owed to KPERS, which was an important element of her proposed budget for 2020 to free up funds for other programs. The House failed to forward the bill for final action on a vote of 87-36.
To date, no hearings are scheduled for either of Gov. Kelly’s KanCare expansion bills, SB 54 (referred to Senate Public Health and Welfare) and HB 2102 (referred to House Appropriations).
House Health and Human Services Committee
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, Chair)
On February 11, the committee held a hearing on HB 2066, which would allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to have “full practice authority,” including prescribing medications and eliminating the need for collaborative practice agreements (CPAs), which are formal agreements with physicians.
On February 12, the committee held a hearing on HB 2146, which would allow corporations to employ physicians.
On February 13, the committee held hearings on HB 2155, which would create the office of a state medical examiner and establish training and continuing education requirements for coroners, and HB 2199, which would amend documentation requirements for cremation.
On February 14, the committee heard a presentation by Robin Chadwick of Ascension Via Christi and Joan Tammany of COMCARE on the SKC Community Collaboration on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Reform and held a hearing on HB 2198, which would allow patients with a sexually transmitted disease to receive a prescription for a sexual partner through expedited partner therapy.
Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee
(Sen. Gene Suellentrop, Chair)
On February 11, the committee held a hearing on SB 61, which amends existing Kansas law regarding the qualifications for podiatrists practicing in Kansas to allow those who, prior to 2007, had completed a two-year surgical residency program and are board-certified or progressing towards certification, to practice in Kansas.
On February 12, the committee heard informational presentations on e-cigarettes and vaping. Conferees include Rep. John Eplee, in his capacity as a practicing physician and member of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians (KAFP); Tara Nolan, President of the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition; George Bright, a 13-year old middle school student; and Shelby Rebeck, the Director of Health Services for the Shawnee Mission School District. KHI will publish a fact sheet and two issue briefs on the use, health effects and regulation of e-cigarettes later this month.
On February 13, the committee received an overview presentation about the Department for Children and Families (DCF) from Interim Secretary Laura Howard and other DCF staff. The committee also heard an overview presentation from Rachel Marsh of Saint Francis Ministries, an organization that provides child welfare case management services in Kansas.
On February 14, the committee continued its informational hearings on foster care. Christie Appelhanz of the Children’s Alliance of Kansas discussed the goal of her organization to safely reduce the number of children in care and the new opportunities in prevention efforts related to substance use, mental health and parent education under the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPS). Linda Bass of KVC discussed the erosion of safety net services and the need to provide services to parents.
The committee then heard from Hina Shah of KHI about the structure and process the working groups convened by the Child Welfare System Task Force (CWSTF) used to develop recommendations to improve and strengthen the child welfare system. Committee members asked questions about data infrastructure and K-12 education continuity among foster children.
House Children and Seniors Committee
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)
On February 11, Chair Concannon elected to postpone final action on HB 2103, which would amend the revised Kansas code for child in need of care (CINC) to provide requirements for placement of a child in a qualified residential treatment program (QRTP) as part of the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The bill will be discussed by the committee on February 18.
On February 12, the committee celebrated Older Kansans Day by hearing presentations from Dr. Maren Turner and Judy Bellome of AARP and Annette Graham of the Kansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities.
On February 13, the committee held a hearing on HB 2149, which would require timely determination for KanCare eligibility.
The committee also held an informational hearing on the use of antipsychotic drugs in long-term care facilities. Conferees discussed PRN or “as needed” prescribing, “off-label use,” the need for informed consent, the significant reductions in antipsychotic usage made by the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the need to work with KDHE Interim Secretary Lee Norman to replicate successes.
House Social Services Budget Committee
(Rep. Will Carpenter, Chair)
On February 11, the committee reviewed budgets for Larned State Hospital (LSH) and Osawatomie State Hospital (OSH) and received testimony from Georgianna Correll and Kimberly Lynch from KDADS, and OSH staff including interim Superintendent Wes Cole and Assistant Superintendent Iryna Yeromenko.
On February 12, the committee heard two informational presentations. Amy Campbell, testifying on behalf of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition, offered recommendations to address problems in the state psychiatric inpatient system, including lifting the moratorium on admissions at OSH, investing in the current state hospitals, funding regional crisis intervention centers, implementing the Crisis Intervention Act that was passed in 2017, growing the availability of local psychiatric inpatient beds through public-private partnerships, applying for an IMD exclusion waiver, and implementing the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force. Kyle Kessler spoke about the lack of resources to treat patients whose psychiatric needs are too severe to be handled by CMHCs and highlighted a few of the recommendations from the Mental Health Task Force, including implementing a comprehensive plan to address hospital inpatient capacity, developing community crisis centers, and initiating a comprehensive workforce study to examine staffing shortages across the state.
The committee then adopted the governor’s recommendations for both OSH and LSH for FY 2019 and FY 2020 and recommended that KDADS examine the possibility of lifting the moratorium at OSH and raising wages at LSH to be competitive with those offered at the correctional facility on the same grounds.
On February 13, the committee received an overview presentation on the budget for the Kansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (K-TRACS) and comments from Alexandra Blasi, Executive Director of the Board of Pharmacy. Committee members deliberated options for funding K-TRACS and made a recommendation for funding the proposed $1.2 million budget using state general funds and funds from the Kansas State Board of Nursing fee fund. They also accepted the governor’s recommendations for the Board of Pharmacy, as amended, for FY 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The committee then heard from Mack Smith, Executive Director of the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts, and approved the governor’s budget recommendation which concurred with the revised estimate from the agency.
On February 14, the committee reviewed the budget for DCF. After hearing an overview presentation about the agency budget and the governor’s recommendations, which included funds to hire additional child welfare staff and support the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), Interim Secretary Laura Howard spoke about the importance of the governor’s supplemental requests and strategies for preventive services. At the end of her presentation, Howard discussed the governor’s announcement made earlier in the day regarding the Family Preservation grant awards, which are being canceled, and a new bidding process to be conducted.
House Insurance Committee
(Rep. Jene Vickrey, Chair)
On February 11, the committee held a hearing on HB 2074, which would require all individual accident and sickness policies issued in Kansas to provide coverage for pre-existing health conditions.
On February 13, the committee held a hearing on HB 2083, which would reduce the number of hours required for the AARP Smart Drive program from eight to four. The committee amended the bill to specify that the Kansas Insurance Department would be the approving entity for the course, as recommended by AARP, noted that KID had indicated the costs to approve the course would be nominal and could be met within existing resources, and passed it favorably out of committee.
The committee also worked HB 2053, regarding short-term, limited duration insurance policies. Representatives Neighbor, Rhiley and Dove spoke in opposition to the bill and Rep. Neighbor suggested that legislators consider looking at short-term insurance and other insurance products during an interim session. Representatives Capps and Waggoner spoke in favor of the bill. The bill did not pass out of committee.
Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee
(Sen. Rob Olson, Chair)
On February 12, the committee heard an overview presentation about the Kansas Insurance Department from Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt.
On February 13, the committee held a hearing on SB 67, which requires life insurance companies to compare policies issued to Kansans against the Death Master File maintained by the federal Social Security Administration to identify potential beneficiaries.
Senate Ways and Means Committee
(Sen. Carolyn McGinn, Chair)
On February 13, the committee heard from Kim Burnam, the Eligibility Director for KDHE, who discussed the backlog of complex applications and how the agency intends to move forward. Since awarding a contract to Maximus for the processing of Medicaid applications in 2016, there have been serious delays involving elderly individuals who need long-term care. Burnam stated the agency will be renegotiating the contract with Maximus, and starting January 1, 2020, the agency will begin processing the complex applications while Maximus will continue to process the family medical applications. The agency is requesting additional funding to purchase equipment and hire an additional 313 staff.
The committee also heard from DCF Interim Secretary Laura Howard, who provided an update on work regarding missing children. Howard discussed the need to improve the timeliness and quality of the screenings done following initial reports of abuse, and the investigation process to find missing children — most of whom are runaways.