Legislators passed several health-related bills before leaving for Spring Break early Saturday morning, April 2, including bills related to licensure of pharmacy benefit managers; short-term, limited duration health insurance plans; and occupational therapists’ scope of practice. The House adjourned at 1:25 a.m. and the Senate departed 10 minutes later. No final bills to eliminate or reduce the sales tax rate on food or to enact regulation of medical marijuana were passed. Both chambers will reconvene on Monday, April 25, for the Veto Session. This edition of Health at the Capitol looks at health policy issues that were discussed during the 12th week of the session.
Health at the Capitol is a weekly summary providing highlights of the Kansas legislative session, with a specific focus on 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.
On Monday, March 28, Gov. Laura Kelly presided over the swearing-in of Janet Stanek as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).
On Tuesday, March 29, Gov. Kelly announced that after months of negotiations Kansas has reached an agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) confirming that state employees who survey health care providers, including hospitals and nursing homes that receive CMS funding, to determine whether they comply with federal requirements would not enforce the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In a letter dated March 18, the chief operating officer at CMS indicated that Kansas’ refusal to have state surveyors enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is a violation of the state’s agreement with the agency and that CMS will take action to enforce the mandate. CMS also will reduce funding to Kansas for surveying purposes by $348,723.
On Thursday, March 31, Gov. Kelly announced that the state was transitioning away from “emergency pandemic response” to “endemic normalcy” or “new normal,” similar to how the state deals with diseases like the flu. She stated that lessons learned over the past two years will allow KDHE to ensure the state is prepared for “surges or other needs that may arise in the future.” Under KDHE’s endemic plan, it will continue to monitor data reported by organizations and facilities across the state to understand the status of COVID-19 but will only update the state’s COVID-19 data site weekly, and will focus on ensuring that vulnerable populations have access to the COVID-19 vaccine while existing vaccine providers continue to serve the broader population.
On Friday, April 1, the Kansas Department of Revenue reported that state revenues were $80 million, or 13.4 percent above projections, for the month of March.
Also on Friday, legislators sent House Substitute for Substitute for Senate Bill 267, the base budget bill for Fiscal Year 2023, to the Governor for $16 billion of spending, including $4.6 billion from the State General Fund (SGF). The bill includes $7.5 million for the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) for workforce recruitment and retention incentives; $3.5 million to increase the availability of adult dental services in KanCare; $122.2 million for a 25 percent rate increase for providers of home and community-based services for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities; and $65.2 million for a full rebase of the nursing facility daily Medicaid rate. The Omnibus appropriations bill will be worked during the Veto session.
Bills Presented to the Governor
House Substitute (Sub) for Senate Bill (SB) 28 enacts the pharmacy benefits manager licensure act and requires licensure rather than registration of such entities. (April 1)
SB 62 amends state standards for free school-administered vision screenings, establishes the Kansas Children’s Vision Health and School Readiness Commission, authorizes the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to adopt rules and regulations, establishes a sign language interpreter registration process, and provides guidelines for communication access services. (April 1)
SB 199 amends law in the Insurance Code to update references to short-term limited-duration (STLD) policies. Under current law, “short-term” means an insurance policy period of 6 or 12 months, which offers not more than one renewal period with or without a requirement of medical re-underwriting or medical requalification. The bill amends this definition to update the term to “short-term limited duration” and specifies a policy period of less than 12 months and a policy that offers renewal or extension periods up to a maximum policy period of 36 months total in duration. The bill also removes language required to be included in contracts and application material by insurance companies issuing STLD policies. (April 1)
SB 335 exempts certain qualified trade, merchant, retail, and professional associations, and business entities in the state that provide health benefits through a self-funded health plan subject to the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and not subject to the jurisdiction of the Kansas Insurance Department, from payment of the annual premium tax to the Department. Current law requires each of these business entities to pay an annual tax to the Department at the rate of 1 percent per annum upon the annual Kansas gross premium collected during the preceding calendar year. (Signed by the Governor on March 29)
SB 346 allows for the on-farm retail sale of milk and milk products, authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to declare an imminent health hazard, extends certain milk and dairy license fees and establishes certain standards for milk. (April 1)
SB 440 allows occupational therapists (OTs) to evaluate and initiate treatment on a patient without referral from a health care practitioner and creates conditions under which OTs would be required to obtain a referral from an appropriate health care practitioner. The bill allows OTs to provide services without a referral to employees solely for the purpose of education and instruction related to workplace injury prevention; to the public for the purpose of health promotion, education and functional independence in activities of daily living; or to special education students who need occupational therapy services to fulfill the provisions of their individualized educational plans or individualized family service plans. The bill also does not prevent a hospital or ambulatory surgical center from requiring a physician to order or make a referral for occupational therapy services for a patient currently being treated in such facility; requires licensed OTs actively practicing in the state to maintain professional liability insurance coverage; and requires the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to determine the minimum level of coverage for such insurance. (Signed by the Governor on April 1)
SB 493 prohibits municipalities from adopting or enforcing an ordinance, resolution, or regulation that restricts, taxes, prohibits, or regulates the use of auxiliary containers, defined as a plastic straw or a bag, cup, package, container, bottle, device, or other packaging, designed for the consumption, transportation or protection of merchandise, food or beverages. (April 1)
House Bill (HB) 2110 requires the State Employee Health Plan (SEHP), for plan year 2023, to provide coverage for the diagnosis and prescribed treatment for pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS), for the purposes of studying the utilization and cost of such coverage. The bill also requires the State Employees Health Care Commission to submit a report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on or before March 1, 2024, regarding the impact that the mandated coverage for PANS and PANDAS had on the SEHP; data on the utilization of coverage for PANS and PANDAS by covered individuals and the cost of providing such coverage; and a recommendation on whether such mandated coverage should continue in the SEHP or whether additional utilization and cost data is required. At the next legislative session following receipt of the report, the bill would authorize the Legislature to consider whether to require coverage for PANS and PANDAS in any individual or group health insurance policy, medical service plan, contract, hospital service corporation contract, hospital and medical service corporation contract, fraternal benefit society, or health maintenance organization that provides coverage for accident and health services and that is delivered, issued for delivery, amended, or renewed in this state on or after July 1, 2025. (March 30)
HB 2386 establishes requirements and restrictions for the payment and reimbursement of dental services by a dental benefit plan and provides that any violations of the provisions of the bill would be subject to enforcement by the Commissioner of Insurance. (April 1)
HB 2490 amends law governing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings program to make the program compliant with the federal Internal Revenue Code and mandatory federal regulations. The program allows individuals with a disability and their families to save private funds without violating federal means-tested benefit requirements. The bill allows persons authorized by the State Treasurer to act on behalf of a designated beneficiary; be a designated beneficiary; and open a program account. The bill also removes the existing age requirements for a designated beneficiary to have a conservator, guardian, or person authorized by the Treasurer to act on their behalf regarding program accounts. (March 30)
House and Senate Floor Action
SB 200 expands the pharmacist’s scope of practice to include point-of-care testing for and treatment of influenza, streptococcal pharyngitis, or urinary tract infections. Conference Committee Report (CCR) adopted by the House and Senate on April 1.
House Sub for Sub for SB 286 continues the governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas by extending the expanded use of telemedicine, the suspension of certain requirements related to medical care facilities and immunity from civil liability for certain health care providers, certain persons conducting business in this state and covered facilities for COVID-19 claims until January 20, 2023; creates the crime of interference with conduct of a hospital; and increases the penalty for battery committed against a health care provider. CCR adopted by the House and Senate on April 1.
SB 343 updates the term “hearing impaired” to “hard of hearing” in statutes related to persons with hearing loss. CCR adopted by the House and Senate on April 1.
SB 453 requires unlicensed employees working in adult care homes who take training courses to demonstrate certain skills to successfully complete such training courses; requires training courses to be taught and evaluated by professional licensed nurses; requires a demonstration of skills to successfully complete the training courses; allows board-approved postgraduate experience to count toward graduate level supervised clinical practicum of supervised professional experience; and permits current master’s and clinical level licensees to take the addiction counselor’s test. CCR adopted by the House and Senate on April 1.
Senate Sub for HB 2279 amends the Kansas Nurse Practice Act governing the licensure of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to allow them to prescribe drugs without a written protocol as authorized by a responsible physician; requires APRNs to maintain malpractice insurance; and requires national certification for initial licensure as an APRN. The House concurred with amendments in conference on April 1.
HB 2387 prohibits any state agency or the Governor from issuing a request for proposal or entering into any new contract with managed care organizations for the administration or provision of benefits under KanCare on or before January 31, 2023. The bill also amends the Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA) to state that the Governor shall have no power or authority under KEMA or any other law to prohibit attending or conducting any religious service or worship service in a church, synagogue, or place of worship. CCR adopted by the Senate on April 1.
Senate Sub for HB 2448 requires DCF to assign all able-bodied adults age 18 to 49 without dependents who are not employed at least 30 hours per week to complete an employment and training program in order to receive food assistance. CCR adopted by the Senate on March 30 and by the House on March 31.