Legislative committees finish work
Rachelle Colombo; KMS Director of Government Affairs
With committee action on most bills now complete, the legislature begins the process of wrapping up the main part of the 2015 regular session. There are two full weeks left before the legislature's first adjournment, scheduled for April 3. As that date approaches, the legislature will complete action on most bills remaining to be considered, and then sharpen its focus on passing an appropriations bill to fund state government and services.
The last major policy debate before the House Health committee this week centered on the Kansas Hospital Association's bill expanding Medicaid, HB 2319. Their proposal would direct the Governor to apply for federal approval to expand coverage for about 145,000 low-income, uninsured Kansans in a budget-neutral way. KMS testified in support of the bill, along with more than 150 other health care, business and community organizations and many individuals. Proponents led by KHA made a strong case for expansion, citing the importance of this proposal to improving access to care for the uninsured and to supporting hospitals put at risk by reductions in Medicare and federal support for providing uncompensated care. Opponents of the measure focused heavily on the cost to the state of expansion, as well as concerns about trusting the federal government to stand by its commitment to fund 90 percent of the costs of covering the expansion population on into the future. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which didn't take a position on the bill, nevertheless expressed concerns about the costs of expansion and that the proposed expansion favored providing coverage to able-bodied, low-income individuals over the disabled population, of which there are about 6,000 on waiting lists to qualify for Medicaid. The bill has not been scheduled for action, but it remains alive and could be taken up again when the legislature returns at the end of April to complete action on budgets and consider any bills vetoed by the governor.
Save the date: 1st Annual Members Forum
On May 2, 2015 the Kansas Medical Society will host its first Members Forum—a brand new meeting which will bring together physicians from all over the state for networking, education and discussion. This one-day meeting (10am-2:30pm) will be held at the Wichita Hyatt and replaces the previously held KMS Annual Meeting; this new schedule was adopted by the 2014 House of Delegates upon recommendations from the Future Directions Task Force.
The meeting will have two components:
• Town Hall Forum--a facilitated, issue-oriented discussion of important topics facing medicine in Kansas
• Luncheon--includes the Presidents' Reception honoring the incoming KMS President and all Past Presidents; election of the 2015-2016 KMS Board of Trustees and a keynote address by Kevin Pho, MD, founder and editor of the popular health care blog, KevinMD.com.
All members and spouses are welcome at the event; there is no fee to attend but advance registration will be required. Registration will open on April 1, 2015.
If you have questions about the meeting, please contact Nancy Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.