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Governor signs 19 bills into law

By Trevor Graff | April 18, 2014

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed 19 bills into law Friday, including measures dealing with medical malpractice and the prompt payment of Medicaid claims by managed care companies.

Today's signings brought the total number of bills signed from this year's legislative session to 76.

The three new health-related laws are:

  • Senate Bill 311 increases the cap on economic damages in medical malpractice cases and personal injury lawsuits from $250,000 to $350,000 between now and 2022.
  • House Bill 2552 requires that all properly submitted or "clean" claims for payment filed by Kansas Medicaid providers with managed care organizations be fully paid or denied within 30 days. Full payment or denial on all other claims is required within 90 days. The bill also requires that details of a provider’s rights be included in contracts with MCOs. The measure also included a provision prohibiting the expansion of Medicaid eligibility without the Legislature’s express consent.
  • Senate Bill 271 beefed up the penalties for Medical fraud by, among other things, increasing fines for violations and the severity levels of the crimes.

Among the other bills signed were House Bill 2338, which appropriates an additional $2 million for the state court system through increased court fees but also alters the way the courts are managed.

Under the new law, the judges in each court district and the judges of the Court of Appeals will elect a district judge to serve as chief administrative judge for the district. It effectively strips the Kansas Supreme Court of its authority to appoint chief judges in the state's 31 judicial districts.

The Supreme Court justices issued a statement after the bill was signed criticizing it for weakening "the centralized authority of the Kansas unified court system in exchange for money to pay our employees and keep courts open.”

“This is a poor trade. We have very serious concerns about what will happen to the administration of justice in Kansas,” according to the court's statement.

Ryan Wright, executive director of Kansans for Fair Courts, described the bill as retribution for the Supreme Court's recent school finance ruling.

“The Legislature passed this bill to punish the Supreme Court for upholding the Kansas Constitution and ensuring that Kansas children have equitable access to a world-class education," Wright said in a prepared statement.

The governor also signed Senate Bill 423, giving the Department of Administration authority to sell the Landon, Eisenhower and Curtis State Office Buildings in Topeka. Eighty percent of the proceeds would go toward the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. If sold, the state would later have the option to lease the buildings from a private contractor.

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