Throughout the 2019 Kansas legislative session, Kansas Health Institute (KHI) staff will prepare a weekly summary of the highlights, 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.
Week 2 of the 2019 Session
With the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday, week 2 kicked off on Tuesday with the House adding to its chamber rules a provision that allows breast-feeding of infants on the House floor during debate. A winter storm shortened some afternoon committee meetings and delayed the opening of the session on Wednesday until 11:00 a.m.
On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Kelly named a bipartisan, 11-member working group to focus on Medicaid (KanCare) expansion, including finalizing an expansion bill by January 29. The group includes a legislator from each party and representatives of Kansas hospitals, doctors, safety net clinics and mental health centers. On Friday, House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins called on the governor to open meetings of the group to the public and allow comment. Ashley All, spokeswoman for the governor, said no meetings are planned for the group at this time.
Thursday saw the introduction of Gov. Kelly’s school finance bill in the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees and an executive order creating a 45-member Governor’s Council on Education. The council will hold its first meeting on January 30. The Kansas Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing in February to determine whether the Legislature has adequately addressed the funding shortfall.
House Health and Human Services Committee
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, Chair)
On January 22 and 23, Robert St. Peter and Kari Bruffett from KHI provided an overview of health insurance coverage in Kansas and an introduction to Medicaid/CHIP and Kansas Medicaid 101 (KanCare). Committee members asked questions about eligibility for Medicaid expansion, wait lists for home- and community-based services, services provided for dual eligibles, and Medicaid reimbursement rates compared with those of other states.
On January 24, Kyle Kessler of the Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas (ACMHCK), described the role of community mental health centers (CMHCs) in Kansas and provided background on critical changes in the Kansas mental health system since the 1970s. Committee members asked questions about youth suicide rates and prevention, school mental health pilot projects, 72-hour hold units, crisis stabilization centers, workforce, and CHC collaboration with law enforcement.
Robert St. Peter, Kari Bruffet and Hina Shah from KHI discuss Medicaid/CHIP, KanCare, health insurance coverage, mental health and child welfare with various legislative committees.
Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee
(Sen. Gene Suellentrop, Chair)
On January 22, the committee heard an overview presentation about K-TRACS, the Kansas Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, from Alexandra Blasi, Executive Secretary of the State Board of Pharmacy, and Lori Haskett, Assistant Director of K-TRACS. Committee members asked about the tracking of online sales of drugs and the inclusion of veterinarians in the drug monitoring system.
On January 24, Robert St. Peter and Kari Bruffett from KHI provided an overview of health insurance coverage in Kansas and an introduction to Medicaid/CHIP. Committee members asked questions about international health care spending compared to U.S. spending, potential offset costs associated with the CHIP program, the calculation of FMAP, the use of state plan amendments and waivers, and enrollment in faith-based health care sharing ministries. St. Peter and Bruffett will provide a Kansas Medicaid (KanCare) 101 presentation on January 28.
House Children and Seniors Committee
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)
On January 22 and 23, Hina Shah from KHI presented information 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. Working group members also provided detailed information about the background and rationale of their recommendations. Committee members asked questions about the process used by the working groups to reach consensus, retention and financial incentives for employees of the Kansas Department of Children and Families (DCF) and contractors, funding for DCF information technology (IT) systems, and funding for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organizations.
On January 24, Laura Howard, Interim Secretary of DCF and the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, introduced herself to the committee. Howard fielded questions regarding foster care contractor grants, the availability of funding in the governor’s budget for recommendations in the CWSTF final report, the child support collection contract, and the availability of services for children in rural parts of the state.
House Social Services Budget Committee
(Rep. Will Carpenter, Chair)
The committee heard a briefing on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) by Secretary Lee Norman and other KDHE officials on January 22 and a briefing on KDADS by Interim Secretary Laura Howard on January 23 and 24. Committee members asked questions about mental health issues, health and community-based services waiting lists, and privatization of the child welfare system.
House Insurance Committee
(Rep. Jene Vickrey, Chair)
On January 23, newly elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner (and former senator) Vicki Schmidt presented an overview of the history and role of the Kansas Insurance Department and introduced several of her senior staff. The committee also conducted a hearing on House Bill 2041, which would prohibit life insurance companies from refusing to insure or limiting coverage for living organ donors.
Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee
(Sen. Rob Olson, Chair)
The committee did not meet this week but a hearing on SB 32, introduced by the Kansas Farm Bureau to exempt the organization from the jurisdiction of the Kansas Insurance Department related to its future member health plan, is scheduled for January 29. Hearings on SBs 29, 36, 33 and 30 related to association health plans and small employer health plan requirements will be January 30 and 31.
House Education Committee
(Rep. Steve Huebert, Chair)
On January 24, the committee heard presentations on mental health issues in schools by the Kansas State Board of Education, School Psychologists Association, School Social Workers Association, and School Mental Health Counselors.
Senate Ways and Means Committee
(Sen. Carolyn McGinn, Chair)
The committee heard briefings on the process and recommendations in the Mental Health Task Force report by Kari Bruffett (KHI) and Amy Campbell (Task Force member, Kansas Mental Health Coalition) on January 23. Committee members asked questions about the KanCare expedited reinstatement process for individuals exiting state hospitals and jails/prisons, intervention teams in schools, and transition age youth programs.
Senate Education Committee
(Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Chair)
The committee heard presentations on mental health awareness by the Kansas School Counselor Association, Kansas School Psychologist Association, and Kansas School Social Worker Association on January 24.
The Kansas Health Institute supports effective policymaking through nonpartisan research, education and engagement. KHI believes evidence-based information, objective analysis and civil dialogue enable policy leaders to be champions for a healthier Kansas. Established in 1995 with a multiyear grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, KHI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization based in Topeka.