Archives: KHI News Service

On January 1, 2017, the KHI News Service became part of KCUR public radio’s new initiative, the Kansas News Service. The Kansas News Service will continue to cover health policy news and broaden its scope to include education and politics. All stories produced by the former KHI News Service are archived here. Stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to

Mental health drug change goes to governor

Prior authorization for some Medicaid prescriptions projected to save $8 million

By Andy Marso | May 08, 2015

A proposal to allow prior authorizations for Medicaid reimbursements on mental health drugs passed its final legislative hurdle Friday.

The measure, which was requested by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration as part of a budget proposal and projected to save $8 million, passed the House 82-31 as part of a small health conference committee package. It passed the Senate 31-6 earlier in the week and now heads to the governor’s desk.

Until Brownback signs the measure, state law will continue to prohibit any regulation of mental health drugs under Medicaid.

Mental health advocates argued against a bill to repeal that statute, saying it was necessary to ensure there were no delays in getting effective drugs into the hands of people with severe and persistent mental illnesses who could be a danger to themselves or others without the drugs.

Administration officials said the current law kept them from preventing reimbursements for prescribing patterns — especially for young and old patients — that do not fit Food and Drug Administration guidelines for the drugs in question.

But the advocates came together with the administration on the revised bill that was part of the conference committee report that passed this week. It allows the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to require prior authorization for new mental health drugs, subject to a review by an independent advisory board that includes psychiatrists, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

“This is a workable compromise that can lead to positive outcomes for patients and provide more clarity for prescribers,” said Kyle Kessler, executive director of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas.

The conference committee report passed this week also included a non-controversial provision mandating Medicaid reimbursement for donor breast milk for babies in neonatal intensive care units.