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Health at the Capitol Week 9: March 15, 2019

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon, Peter F. H. Barstad | March 15, 2019

Health at the Capitol Week 9: March 15, 2019

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 FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn. Previous editions of Health at the Capitol can be found on our archive page.

Week 9 of the 2019 Session

On March 14, the Senate, on a vote of 24-16, concurred in the House amendments to its income tax cut bill and sent it to Gov. Laura Kelly. The bill, as previously amended by the House, cuts the sales tax on food by 1 percent (from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent) on Oct. 1 and imposes sales tax on some Internet purchases by Kansans. The Senate also voted 32-8 to increase general state aid to public schools by about $92 million and unanimously confirmed the appointment of Dr. Lee Norman as Kansas secretary of Health and Environment. 

On March 14, the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved a motion to reallocate $14.2 million budgeted by the governor for Medicaid expansion to increase payment to physicians treating Medicaid patients. 

House Health and Human Services Committee
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, C​hair)

On March 12, the committee took final action on House Bill (HB) 2274, which would require physicians to notify patients that the effects of a medication abortion may be reversible. While the original bill required notification be provided to a patient via phone or in person up to 24 hours prior to the procedure, the committee passed an amendment, 8-6, requiring an additional written notification, according to the Women’s Right to Know Act. The committee then voted to move HB 2274 to the consent calendar.

The committee also held a hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 61, which would grandfather in podiatrists whose ability to perform certain surgeries had been unintentionally limited by legislation passed in 2014 and voted to move the bill to the consent calendar.

On March 13, the committee took action on three previously heard bills: HB 2066, which would update practice requirements for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs); HB 2307, which would establish non-covered dental benefits under health insurance plans and limitations on plan changes; and HB 2082, which would allow pharmacists to administer drugs pursuant to a prescription order. All three bills were passed out of committee as previously amended before turnaround.

Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee
(Sen. Gene Suellentrop, Chair)

On March 12, the committee held a confirmation hearing for Dr. Lee Norman, interim secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The committee unanimously recommended that Norman be confirmed as secretary.  

On March 14, the committee held a hearing on HB 2185 which would amend the naturopathic medicine scope of practice to include diagnostic imaging. Alicia Johnson, president of the Kansas Naturopathic Doctor’s Association (KDNA), testified in support of the bill. Kevin Barone of the Capital Lobby Group also testified in support of the bill on behalf of KDNA and offered an amendment to add language clarifying who would qualify as a licensed practitioner. The Kansas Medical Society (KMS) offered written only neutral testimony.

The Chair then opened the hearing for SB 113, the Veteran’s First Medical Cannabis Act, which would allow for the legal use of medical marijuana. Proponent testimony focused on the benefits of using medical cannabis for pain management as a safer alternative to prescription medications and for helping veterans with a variety of issues including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Also noted was a recent poll suggesting 70 percent of Kansans are in favor of legalizing medical cannabis.

On March 15, the committee continued the hearing for SB 113. Proponent testimony was offered by Barry Grissom, former U.S. Attorney for Kansas, and private citizens. Advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana mainly argued its benefit as an alternative to other prescription medications which often have severe side effects.

Primary concerns expressed by opponents to the bill included the risks to youth, increased violent crime in other states which have legalized medical marijuana, the lack of control and science-based evidence, and potential for marijuana to act as a gateway drug.

Written only neutral testimony was offered by several organizations, raising concerns about the implementation process and start-up costs for state agencies, impact on public safety and driving under the influence, and confusion about the status of cannabidiol (CBD) that currently is exempted from the definition of cannabis in Kansas.

House Children and Seniors Committee
(Rep. Susan Concannon, Chair)

The committee worked HB 2361, which would amend the Student Data Privacy Act related to administration of tests, questionnaires or surveys containing questions about student personal beliefs and practices on sex, family life, morality and/or religion. Committee members debated several issues, including the need for data to assist educators in providing support and services for children, privacy concerns, and parental rights. The bill was passed favorably out of committee. 

House Social Services Budget Committee
(Rep. Will Carpenter, Chair)

On March 11, the committee made recommendations for the KDHE budget, which were forwarded to the House Appropriations Committee. (See comments below.)

House Insurance Committee
(Rep. Jene Vickrey, Chair)

On March 13, the committee worked SB 32, which would exempt the Kansas Farm Bureau, or an affiliate thereof, that provides a healthcare benefit plan for the members of the organization and their dependents from the jurisdiction of the Kansas Insurance Commissioner and would specify the healthcare benefit plan provided by the KFB would not be considered insurance. The bill also would permit the risk under such coverage to be reinsured by an authorized company. The committee amended the bill on a vote of 9-7 to remove the language regarding a healthcare benefit plan that is not insurance and would designate the proposed KFB plan as a self-funded association health plan marketed to the employees and dependents of working-owner farmers and ranchers and principal businesses engaged in production agriculture or agricultural pursuits and then approved a motion to table the bill until the next meeting of the committee. 

The committee also worked HB 2054, which amends several health insurance provisions in the Insurance Code related to the regulation of association health plans (AHPs) and small employer plans. The bill was previously amended by the committee prior to turnaround to incorporate provisions of other bills related to association health plans. The bill was passed out favorably. 

Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee
(Sen. Rob Olson, Chair)

No health-related issues were addressed by the committee this week.

House Appropriations Committee
(Rep. Troy Waymaster, Chair)

On March 13, the committee considered the KDHE budget. After hearing the House Social Services Budget recommendations, a motion was made to delete $14.2 million from the governor’s recommendations related to the expansion of Medicaid from the agency budget. A substitute motion failed that would have left the money in the budget but would redirect it to the state general fund (SGF) if expansion didn’t happen. The committee approved the removal of $509.3 million, including $14.2 million from the state general fund, for Medicaid expansion.

House Judiciary Committee
(Rep. Fred Patton, Chair)

On March 12, the committee held a hearing on HB 2244, which would allow for the use of cannabidiol (CBD) containing 5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to treat certain medical conditions. Opponent testimony was provided by Eric Voth, a practicing physician, Katie Whisman, executive officer for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), and Ed Klumpp on behalf of three law enforcement associations. The League of Kansas Municipalities was the only entity to offer neutral testimony and asked that the committee consider the implications for law enforcement and human resources. The hearing concluded with proponent testimony offered by Rep. Mark Schreiber, Allen Peake, a former state representative in Georgia who spearheaded state efforts there to legalize CBD to treat medical conditions, and five parents of children with medical conditions – particularly seizure disorders – who believe their children would benefit, or would have benefited in the instance of two children who had passed away, from having access to low-THC CBD oil.

Senate Judiciary Committee
(Sen. Rick Wilborn, Chair)

On March 14, the committee held a hearing on HB 2360, which would authorize “qualified entities” to request the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to conduct background checks on employees and volunteers that have unsupervised access to children, the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Proponents explained that due to enactment of the National Child Protection Act in 2018, states are required to have legislation in place in order to continue to conduct these background checks, and this bill would allow that.

Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health
(Sen. Carolyn McGinn, Chair)

On March 11, the committee made recommendations for the KDHE budget for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, which included raising Medicaid reimbursements to dental providers, reducing funds designated for the Maximus eligibility determination contract, adding grants for community care programs, allowing and funding the manufacture of cerebral palsy posture seating for adults as well as children, requiring KDHE to seek a waiver for the institution of mental disease exclusion rule, and directing KDHE to facilitate a detailed review on the costs and reimbursement rates for mental health treatments, including behavioral health and substance use disorders treatment.

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.