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Health at The Capitol Week 8 (March 2020)

Week 8 of the 2020 Legislative Session

By Linda J. Sheppard, J.D., Hina B. Shah, M.P.H., Sydney McClendon, Peter F. H. Barstad | March 10, 2020

Health at The Capitol Week 8 (March 2020)

Week 8 of the 2020 Session

Following Turnaround week, legislators took a short break but returned to the Capitol on Wednesday, March 4. While there were few committee hearings during Week 8, legislators referred several health-related bills from the opposite chamber to committees for hearings. There was no work on Medicaid expansion this week.

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

On Wednesday, March 4, the Committee received an informational briefing on crisis behavioral health services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and autism from multiple community developmental disability organizations (CDDOs) and Interhab, the association for providers of community services to Kansans with developmental disabilities. Conferees expressed concerns about the lack of crisis services available to serve individuals with I/DD and behavioral health diagnoses, some of whom might require a higher level of care than what is available in the community, and also mentioned staffing shortages and turnover rates. Committee members asked about accessing state hospital beds, how safety is factored into care plans for both consumers and caregivers, increases in wages for employees supporting these individuals, how organizations handle crisis situations, coordination between CDDOs and the behavioral health system, and whether other states have models for crisis services that Kansas could consider.

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

No meeting this week.

House Insurance Committee
(Rep. Jene Vickrey, Chair)

No meeting this week.

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

No health-related issues were addressed this week.

House Appropriations
(Rep. Troy Waymaster, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 4, the Committee reviewed recommendations from the House Social Services Budget Committee regarding the budget for health divisions within the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). The Budget Committee approved the Governor’s Budget Recommendations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and FY 2021, with amendments, including the addition of $3 million ($1.2 million SGF) for Medicaid dental reimbursements, which would be void if Senate Bill (SB) 349 (which would establish a state oral health plan and Medicaid dental benefits) passes; $3 million SGF for a Primary Care Grant, which would be void if SB 363 (which would appropriate funding to KDHE for primary care clinics or dental clinics) or Medicaid expansion passes; $1.9 million SGF to increase funds for all local health departments for FY 2021; and $2 million SGF for the tiny-k program. They also added language to allow KDHE to maintain the FY 2020 Medicaid reimbursement rate until after the first quarter following approval of adjusted rates by CMS, and language to encourage KDHE to establish the brain injury registry. A motion to remove the funding for Medicaid expansion and to instead consider that funding at omnibus, which launched the Committee into a lengthy discussion of expansion and the status of House Bill (HB) 2066 (the expansion bill passed by the House in 2019), passed on a vote of 12-10. The Committee also approved a motion by Chair Waymaster to include language changing state policy to suspend rather than terminate Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals.

On Thursday, March 5, the Committee heard an update from Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) and Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Secretary Laura Howard regarding the plan to lift the moratorium on voluntary admissions at Osawatomie State Hospital (OSH). The plan, which includes a mix of increasing bed capacity and community-based capacity for inpatient treatment, has two primary goals: (1) to ensure there are high-quality, therapeutic spaces to provide treatment to individuals with serious mental illness in an inpatient setting, and (2) to use existing resources and facilities as effectively as possible. To meet both goals, KDADS has requested additional funds to renovate unused space, convert most of the double occupancy rooms to single rooms to improve the environment, and add certified beds at OSH. Committee members asked about the difference in reimbursement for licensed and certified beds, whether or not the proposed regional beds would be certified, how the addition of regional beds would impact OSH, if there is a plan regarding unused buildings at OSH, the impact and unintended consequences of the previous decision to decertify beds at OSH, the proposed IMD (Institutions for Mental Disease) Exclusion Waiver, and the different categories of beds in the state.

Senate Education Committee
(Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Chair)

On Wednesday, March 4, the Committee heard an informational briefing on the Kansas Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Steve Devore, CEO of Headquarters, Inc., stated that the volume of calls to suicide prevention hotlines has rapidly increased in recent years and calls in Kansas are being made by adults as old as 97 years, and children as young as age 10. He also provided an update on the work being done to make a federally authorized change to the phone number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a three-digit number – 988  – which would be easier to advertise, would likely result in greater utilization of the hotline, and could result in the need to increase the capacity to respond to calls. Committee members noted that the House Social Services Budget Committee has recommended an additional $100,000 in the omnibus budget for the Kansas Suicide Prevention Lifeline and asked about what data can be collected by the hotline in Kansas.


Other bills with action this week:

SB 255 – The amended bill would appropriate $10 million to the Cancer Center Research account of the State General Fund for the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) to enhance laboratory, clinical and population-based research and recruit and retain cancer researchers and clinicians to conduct cancer research, education and outreach programs. The first $5 million in expenditures from the account would be required to be matched on a $1-for-$1 basis from other KUMC funds and the director of the Cancer Center would be required to submit a report to the Legislature detailing how the appropriated funds are used for the purposes stated in the bill. The bill was passed by the Senate on a vote of 40-0 on March 5.

SB 381 – The amended bill would add obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) to the list of qualifying residency training programs under both the Medical Student Loan Program (requires students to agree to practice in an approved service commitment area) and the Kansas Medical Residency Bridging Loan Program, and authorize KUMC to offer loan assistance and enter into service commitment agreements with students who seek to pursue a medical career in the practice of OBGYN. The bill also would establish criteria for determining when an individual would be deemed to have failed to complete the service requirement of either loan program, including any person who establishes an abortion clinic or performs, induces or attempts to perform or induce an abortion, except in the case of a medical emergency or in the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 26 on a vote of 25-15 and was referred to the House Education Committee on March 5.

SB 384 – The amended bill would require the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) and DCF to prepare an annual academic report card on educational outcome data regarding foster care students, including graduation rates, promotions to the next grade level, numbers of suspensions and expulsions, state standardized assessment scores, and numbers of foster care students enrolled in school districts. The bill, which requires the report to be submitted to the House Education Committee on or before January 15 of each year, was passed by the Senate on February 27 on a vote of 39-0 and referred to the House Education Committee on March 5.

SB 407 – The bill, introduced on February 11, directs KDADS, using existing resources, to operate not less than 12 acute inpatient psychiatric care beds for children in Hays and Garden City or surrounding communities. On March 4 the bill was set for a hearing on March 11 in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.

SB 409 – The amended bill would extend the sunset provision for the Nursing Facility Quality Care Assessment, which provides funding for nursing facility reimbursement rates, to July 1, 2030. Under current law, the Assessment would sunset on July 1, 2020. The bill was passed by the Senate on March 5 on a vote of 35-5.

HB 2346 – The amended bill would amend state standards for free school-administered vision screenings to add new definitions, modify the frequency of the vision screenings for certain grade levels, and require the screening results be reported to the parents or guardians of any examined student. The bill also would establish an eight member Kansas Children’s Vision Health and School Readiness Commission to ensure implementation of the provisions of the bill. The bill was passed by the House on February 27 on a vote of 113-11 and on March 7 was set for a hearing on March 14 in the Senate Education Committee.

HB 2515 – The amended bill would establish the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act (Act), which would provide scholarships for students to attend an “eligible postsecondary educational institution,” defined as a community or technical college, or any two-year associate degree program or technical certificate offered by an institution with its primary location in Kansas. To be eligible for a scholarship, a student would be required to meet a number of requirements including: being a Kansas resident; graduating from a Kansas public or private secondary school or obtaining a high school equivalency certificate within the preceding 12 months; entering into a scholarship agreement that requires the student to be a full-time student; completing the required coursework for a baccalaureate degree program; within six months of graduation, either working in Kansas for at least two years or enrolling as a full-time student in a public or private postsecondary educational institution; and agreeing to repay the scholarship, plus interest, upon failure to fulfill the agreement requirements. To continue receiving the scholarship, the student would be required to annually complete 100 hours of community service or be employed part-time and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or greater. The bill, which would be subject to appropriations that would not exceed $10.0 million annually, was passed by the House on February 20 on a vote of 116-6 and on March 5 was set for a hearing on March 9 in the Senate Education Committee.

HB 2522 – The bill would establish the rural hospital innovation grant program to be administered by the secretary of KDHE for the purpose of strengthening and improving the health care system and increasing access to health care services in eligible counties. On March 4 the bill was set for a hearing on March 12 in the House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2720 – The bill would establish a credit for tax years after December 31, 2019, on the taxable income of an individual taxpayer who: (1) Purchased food in this state, (2) had federal adjusted gross income for the tax year that did not exceed $30,000 if filing status is either single or married filing separate, or $40,000 if filing status is head of household or married filing jointly; and (3) meets other qualifications stated in the bill. The amount of the credit, which would vary by filing status, would be $60 for single and married filing separate, $180 for head of household, and $240 for married filing jointly. The bill also provides for a tax credit for the five years prior to January 1, 2020, for taxpayers meeting certain qualification requirements. On March 4, the bill, which was introduced on February 19, was set for a hearing on March 9 in the Taxation 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.