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Health at the Capitol Week 9 (March 17, 2021)

Week 9 of the 2021 Legislative Session

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Peter F. H. Barstad, Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon, Jaron Caffrey | March 17, 2021

Health at the Capitol Week 9 (March 17, 2021)

Week 9 of the 2021 Session

Legislators returned from the brief Turnaround break on Wednesday, March 10, but activity was light in the health-related committees. Learn more about health-related issues discussed the week after Turnaround in our latest edition of Health at the Capitol.

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

 

On Wednesday, March 10, former representative Ron Ryckman, Sr., was sworn in as the Senator representing the 38th Senate District to fill two years of the term of the late Sen. Bud Estes, who died on February 13. Also on Wednesday, the Legislative Coordinating Council approved the creation of a six-member (3 House, 3 Senate) Redistricting Advisory Committee, which will create guidelines for reapportionment of the House, Senate, Congress and State Board of Education in the 2022 election.

On Monday, March 15, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported 298,218 COVID-19 cases (up 1,767 from March 8) from 105 counties with 4,835 deaths (up 19 from March 8).

House Health and Human Services 
(Rep. Brenda Landwehr, Chair)

On Thursday, March 11, the Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 77, which would enact the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact. Representatives of the Kansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association spoke in favor of the bill and stated it would improve continuity of care; enhance portability for military spouses; increase public access to speech-language pathologists and audiologists; facilitate telehealth; and simplify the licensure process. Committee members asked questions about how the compact would impact military families, including if they moved to a state that was not participating in the compact. The Committee amended the bill to change the effective date to upon publication in the Kansas Register and then favorably passed out of Committee the amended bill. 

Senate Public Health and Welfare 
(Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, Chair)

On Thursday, March 11, the Committee held a hearing on KanCare Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver waiting lists. The Committee first heard from Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF)/Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Laura Howard, who gave a brief overview of HCBS waivers in Kansas, how many individuals are served by the waivers, current waitlist numbers and a proposed analysis to understand what the service needs are for those on the waitlists. Committee members asked questions about whether it would be possible to develop a plan for reducing the waitlist, how the waivers are funded (a mix of state and federal funding, as with other Medicaid services), whether schools can receive funding for providing serious emotional disturbance (SED) waiver services (schools can provide services but have a different reimbursement mechanism than community mental health centers), and what the state expects to find once it completes an assessment of the service needs of individuals currently on the waiting list (likely a wide variety of needs, but the state does not have information on this now).

Committee members then heard testimony from representatives of InterHab, Disability Rights Center of Kansas, Minds Matter, Johnson County Developmental Supports, SKIL Resource Center and parents of individuals on waitlists. Committee members asked questions about how the waitlists began, experiences of youth needing support in schools and when the state expects to have the analysis of service needs for those on the waitlist completed.

Senate Federal and State Affairs 
(Sen. Larry Alley, Chair)

On Thursday, March 11, the Committee held a hearing on Substitute for House Bill (HB) 2066 (as amended by the House Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development and the House), which would shorten the period of time in which regulatory bodies are required to issue occupational credentials to military service members or military spouses seeking to establish residence in Kansas and provide for expedited credentialing of non-military prospective residents who have received professional licensure in other states. The bill would expand and clarify existing conditions on expedited occupational credentialing and permit temporary credentialing during states of emergency and the use of electronic credentials. Proponents included Representative Chris Croft and representatives of the Opportunity Solutions Project, Americans for Prosperity, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, Kansas Society of Professional Engineers, and the Kansas Department of Commerce, which cited the need for this bill as there are 30,000 open jobs in Kansas that require licensure. Neutral testimony came from representatives of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and Kansas Society of Land Surveyors. Opponent testimony came from representatives of the Kansas Board of Technical Professions, HTK Architects, Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board, GLMV Architecture, Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants, and American Institute of Architects Kansas, who stated that some licenses, such as those for architects, geologists, land surveyors, engineers, and other highly scientific and technical professions, should get special considerations instead of all being grouped together to determine qualifications to practice in Kansas. They expressed concern that licensure would be given to out-of-state applicants who have been held to lower standards and have lower qualifications than those in Kansas and asked that the bill be amended to ensure the out-of-state applicants are subject to substantially equivalent standards as those applied to Kansas licensees. 

On Friday, March 12, the Committee took final action on Substitute for HB 2066. A motion to amend the bill to require that the substantial equivalency provision of the bill apply to all licensed professions failed, and the bill was passed favorably out of Committee.  

House Appropriations
(Rep. Troy Waymaster, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 10, the Committee heard updates and testimony regarding special revenue funds, including those for the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF) and Kansas Endowment for Youth (KEY) Fund. The CIF was created by the 1999 Kansas Legislature to support programs promoting the health and welfare of Kansas children and has historically supported programs and services with a focus on early childhood, health, mental health and child welfare. The CIF is funded by money from a settlement with the nation’s largest tobacco companies, known as the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Melissa Rooker, Executive Director of the Children’s Cabinet, testified in support of the CIF and KEY Funds and answered questions about the CIF, primarily focused on continuation of funding and services supported by the Children’s Cabinet. 

House Education
(Rep. Steve Huebert, Chair)

On Thursday, March 11, the Committee held a hearing on SB 55, which would clarify the authority of healing arts school clinics to provide healing arts services, and would allow schools statutorily exempted from State Board of Regents approval requirements to be exempted from the prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine. The bill would also allow for offsite clinics owned or operated by a school in partnership with other providers to engage in the practice of healing arts. SB 55 is the companion bill to HB 2124, which was passed by the Senate on February 9. The Chair made a motion to amend the bill to make it eligible for a conference and preserving it as a potential “shell,” so the contents of the bill can be replaced with the language of another bill via amendment, and discussed that procedure with freshman legislators before closing the hearing.

The Committee also held a hearing on SB 62, which would amend the state standards for free school-administered vision screenings to add new or amend existing definitions; modify the frequency of the vision screenings to specific grade levels and specific circumstances under which the screenings would occur; provide for vision screenings for students in accredited nonpublic schools; require screenings be performed by a vision screener who would follow the most recent state vision screening guidelines; and require vision screening results and any necessary referral for an examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist be reported to the parents or guardians of the student. The bill would also establish an eight-member Kansas Children’s Vision Health and School Readiness Commission to ensure implementation of the provisions of the bill and establish the duties of the Commission. The Commission would be appointed by the State Board of Education and would comprise one optometrist; one ophthalmologist; one representative of a health organization dedicated to preventing blindness; one representative of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE); one representative of KDHE; one school nurse; one public nurse; and one school administrator. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of the Kansas Optometric Association, the Kansas Association of School Boards, and the Kansas Vision Coalition. 

Senate Education
(Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 10, and Thursday, March 11, DCF Deputy Secretary Tanya Keys briefed Committee members about the Foster Child Report Card and discussed some initial findings and information being collected. On Thursday, Craig Neuenswander, Deputy Commissioner of KSDE, provided an overview of the 2019-2020 Foster Care Report Card for the Committee. Most of the data on the Report Card is generated by KSDE and includes 2019-20 school year data elements, including:

  • Graduation rate of students in foster care;
  • Number and percentage of students in foster care who were promoted to the next grade level;
  • State standardized assessment scores for students in foster care, including the number and percentage of students meeting academic standards as determined by the state board of education;
  • Number and percentage of students in foster care enrolled in any preschool-aged at-risk program, Kansas preschool pilot program or early childhood special education program under section 619 of part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act;
  • Number and percentage of students in foster care who participated in the mental health intervention team pilot program or a similar mental health program;
  • Total number of students in foster care enrolled in a school district or accredited nonpublic school and disaggregated number and percentage of students in foster care enrolled in school districts and accredited nonpublic schools; and
  • De-identified, disaggregated race and ethnicity data for each data set required.

It was noted that KSDE does not have available data related to the percentage of students in foster care who were suspended or expelled during the school year. Committee members primarily asked questions about the percentage of total foster youth in Kansas who had access to the mental health intervention team pilot; graduation rates and criteria; and how the data collected can be translated into an action plan. 

The Committee then held a hearing on HB 2124 (the companion bill to SB 55 described above), clarifying the authority of healing arts school clinics to provide healing arts services. Proponent testimony was provided by representatives of Cleveland University – Kansas City, Kansas Independent College Association, and Kansas Chiropractic Association.

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.