Week 12 of the 2021 Session
With legislators heading home for a long weekend on Wednesday, March 31, most of the action in Week 12 was on the floor of both chambers on Monday and Tuesday. However, a few committees did meet to discuss health-related topics and work a few bills, including one regarding medical marijuana. Learn more about action on health-related issues during Week 12 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 Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Previous editions of Health at the Capitol can be found on our ARCHIVE PAGE.
On Wednesday, March 31, Gov. Kelly signed three health-related bills:
- Senate Bill (SB) 77, which enacts the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact and facilitates the interstate practice of these services.
- House Bill (HB) 2124, which clarifies the authority of healing arts school clinics to provide healing arts services, including off-site clinics owned or operated by a school in partnership with other providers.
- SB 283, which extends several COVID-19 response measures to March 31, 2022, including expanding the use of telemedicine by allowing an out-of-state physician with a temporary emergency license granted by the Board of Healing Arts (BOHA) to practice telemedicine; and allowing BOHA to grant temporary emergency licenses to non-resident health care providers upon submission of a non-resident health care provider certification form to the Kansas Health Care Stabilization Fund and without paying the annual premium surcharge required by the Health Care Provider Insurance Availability Act. The bill also extends the expiration date of the statute governing COVID-19 claim immunity for persons conducting business in the state by one year.
On Thursday, April 1, Gov. Kelly signed 13 COVID-19 response executive orders (EOs), including:
- The extension of renewal deadlines for any occupational or professional license, certificate or registration issued by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) or any board, commission or other licensing authority under the jurisdiction of KDADS or the Board of Adult Care Home Administrators and temporary licensing, certification or registration for persons who were previously licensed and in good standing (EO 21-12).
- Requiring persons in the state to wear a face covering and requiring businesses or organizations in the state to require employees, customers and visitors to wear a face covering (EO 21-14). Shortly after EO 21-14 was submitted to the Secretary of State, the Legislative Coordinating Council revoked it on a vote of 5-2. Local units of government can still elect to impose their own mask requirements.
- Requiring COVID-19 testing in certain adult care homes (EO 21-15).
- Granting temporary authority to pharmacists, pharmacy students or interns, podiatrists, dentists, dental hygienists, physician’s assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, nurses, advanced emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics to administer coronavirus vaccines (EO 21-21).
On Monday, April 5, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reported 303,227 COVID-19 cases (up 855 from March 29) with 4927 deaths (up 14 from March 29).
Senate Public Health and Welfare
(Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, Chair)
On Monday, March 29, the Committee worked HB 2280, which would update various provisions of the Kansas Pharmacy Act related to the powers, duties and functions of the State Board of Pharmacy (Board). The Committee amended the bill to remove fee increases and add new rules and regulations authority for the Board and also added language from SB 211, which would allow a patient desiring to be prescribed a U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved drug for an off-label use of the drug to sign, or have a legal representative sign, a liability waiver for such use. The amended bill was then passed favorably out of Committee.
The Committee also held a hearing on SB 303, which would prohibit boards of county commissioners, boards of trustees or employees from restricting visitors of residents of a county home for the aged (a subset of long-term care facilities) or patients in a county hospital, as well as permit residents and patients of these facilities to waive state, city or federal restrictions regarding receiving visitors. Proponents, including Sen. Alicia Straub, Rep. Tatum Lee-Hahn, Rep. Trevor Jacobs and private citizens, indicated that the restriction of visitation violated residents’ rights and caused additional unnecessary harm during the pandemic. Neutral testimony was provided by KDADS, and opponent testimony was provided by representatives from LeadingAge Kansas, Kansas Association of Counties, Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas Health Care Association. Opponent conferees shared concerns related to facility viability if SB 303 were enacted, which could result in the loss of federal funding if federal regulations are not followed.
Committee members asked questions about whether counties could opt out of the statute if enacted; the consequences of county homes not following Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidelines; whether the bill applies to hospitals; what rights were guaranteed to residents by the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act; what proportion of funding for county homes and other long-term care facilities is provided by the federal government; whether lawsuits have been brought against the state or federal government for infringement of civil liberties; whether KDADS would cite a facility for loosening its visitation restrictions; whether this legislation would affect situations beyond the pandemic; whether the process for removing a loved one from a facility changed during COVID-19; whether and how the opponents have pushed back against federal restrictions on visitation; whether for-profit entities would operate facilities in rural areas that currently have county homes; and whether county homes are large employers in their communities.
The Committee then removed the text of HB 2062, related to confidentiality provisions related to the State Child Death Review Board, to insert the contents of SB 303, and passed Senate Substitute for HB 2062 favorably out of Committee.
House Federal and State Affairs
(Rep. John Barker, Chair)
On Monday, March 29, the Committee continued to work HB 2184, which would create the Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act to provide for the licensure and regulation of the manufacture, transportation and sale of medical cannabis and certain fines and penalties for violations. The Committee discussed and approved numerous amendments to the bill, including:
- changing the definition of vaporization to mean the use of an electronic cigarette for the purpose of consuming medical marijuana when it comes into direct contact with a heating element;
- broadening the list of qualifying conditions to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation;
- shifting the medical marijuana responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture to the Director of Alcoholic Beverage Control;
- providing interstate reciprocity and allowing nonresidents to possess medical marijuana with a valid ID card as long as they will not reside in the state for more than 180 days;
- removing the requirement of a 12-month physician patient relationship for a physician to recommend medical marijuana to an initial office visit and review of medical records;
- removing the petition process for adding qualifying health conditions;
- allowing cultivator licensees to deliver or sell to processors/distributors/dispensaries;
- changing the basis for licensing fees from square footage to number of plants;
- removing any limits or caps on the number of licenses available to qualified applicants;
- allowing BOHA to establish rules and regulations for providers;
- allowing BOHA to charge an annual fee for a certificate to recommend medical marijuana;
- requiring patients who have previously had medical marijuana recommended by another physician to maintain a six month patient-physician relationship with a new physician before the new physician can provide a recommendation;
- authorizing the Board of Pharmacy to adopt rules and regulations to require pharmacists to register as pharmacy consultants for retail dispensaries and require dispensaries to utilize the K-TRACS system to report medical marijuana recommendations;
- changing the dispensing of a 90-day supply of medical marijuana to a 30-day supply;
- requiring licensed processors to package medical marijuana in accordance with child-resistant effectiveness standards;
- requiring the use of tamper-proof, official Kansas medical marijuana packaging when dispensing; and
- requiring the Secretary of Revenue to adopt rules and regulations to establish official packaging requirements.
Chair Barker then made a motion to remove the contents of SB 158, related to the towing of vehicles to a location outside of Kansas without the consent of the driver or owner of the vehicle, and insert the text of amended HB 2184, to create House Substitute for SB 158. The motion was passed and the amended bill was passed favorably out of Committee.
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.