"Turnaround" marks session midpoint
Friday marked "turnaround," the deadline that is the halfway point in the legislative session. All bills must have passed their house of origin or have been "blessed" to remain alive for further legislative consideration.
SB 311, introduced by KMS to respond to the Miller v. Johnson case upholding the cap on non economic damages, passed the full Senate last week. The bill increases the $250,000 cap to $350,000 over eight years, to respond to the Court's warning that the cap could be invalidated in the future if it wasn't increased somewhat. Though an attempt was made to increase the cap to $500,000, the Senate forwarded the bill to the House without changes.
HB 2673 addresses the Board of Healing Arts and the Physician Assistant licensure act. The bill modernizes language in the healing arts act and also includes language to allow the board of healing arts to develop rules and regulations about the appropriate number of physician assistants a physician may supervise in a variety of practice settings. KMS testified in support of the measure which was passed out of committee and by the full House last week. The bill now moves to the Senate Health committee.
HB 2609 was introduced and heard very close to the deadline. The bill, as amended by the House Health committee, allows for collaborative practice agreements for drug therapy management between pharmacists and physicians. Though this is already allowed under existing law, the bill adds some implementing definitions and formalizes the structure of such arrangements. KMS offered several amendments to the bill which were adopted.
HB 2552 establishes prompt pay requirements for the three managed care organizations contracting with the state through KanCare. The bill, passed unanimously by the full House, would require payment of all clean claims within 30 days and payment or denial of all claims within 90 days. Failure to comply would carry at late payment penalty of 1 percent per month. The bill now moves to the Senate Health committee for consideration.
SB 316 allowing board certified podiatrists to perform ankle surgery was "blessed", exempting it from the turnaround deadline. KMS has been involved in discussions between the orthopedic physicians and members of the podiatric society, all of which agreed to the proposed language with amendments detailing the development of tiered licensure for podiatrists. The Senate Health committee plans to work the bill next week.
SB 251 requires insurers to provide a real-time explanation of benefits to providers via an electronic interface. The bill is aimed at providing an estimate of the patient's out of pocket costs to both patient and physician prior to medical care being rendered. The bill was sent to a subcommittee where potential costs to insurers of building the necessary framework and estimated provider utilization where further studied and discussed. KMS supported the legislation, so long as physicians would not be charged additional fees for accessing the information or required to purchase technology to do so. Because insurers projected multimillion dollar costs associated with implementing the necessary technology, the bill was sent back to the full committee with the recommendation for further study. The bill remains alive for the remainder of the session.
HB 2435 which would prohibit minors' access from tanning devices was not heard by the full House prior to the deadline. The measure was blessed and could be brought up for a vote at a later time.
HB 2526 which established higher penalties for assault and battery of a health care provider was also blessed. The bill was passed favorably out of committee but was not considered by the full House.
SB 326, the APRN independent practice bill, has not yet had a hearing. The bill remains alive the entire session. The APRNs have been very active, with an almost constant grassroots presence in the statehouse. Despite their desire for a hearing, legislators have asked that the APRNs meet with physicians and seek an agreement about appropriate scope of practice. KMS has agreed to begin meetings, perhaps beginning over the legislative break in April.
Measures failing to advance
HB 2523 prohibited any expression of sympathy or fault from a physician to a patient from being admissible as evidence in a future proceeding. KMS supported the bill as drafted on the premise that it would provide adequate assurance to physicians that their sincere expressions of sympathy would not be used against them in court. However, after lengthy discussion, the Judiciary Committee agreed that the issue was too confusing to be practical and the committee tabled the bill. Though the intent of the bill is good, it demonstrates that this is a difficult area to legislate in a meaningful, practical way.
For more information about legislative issues, please contact KMS Director of Government Affairs, Rachelle Colombo.