Committees advance health-related bills
Rachelle Colombo; KMS Director of Government Affairs
The first legislative deadline requiring all bills to be heard in their house of origin is approaching in the coming weeks. As such, committees are busy allowing the last bill introductions, holding bill hearings and working those issues they hope to advance this session.
The House Health and Human Services took action on HB 2456, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact bill. The committee voted to forward to the full House the measure establishing an alternate licensure pathway for the practice of telemedicine. The bill defines the practice of medicine as occurring where the patient resides, requires physicians to be licensed in that state and provides an additional licensure avenue for that purpose. There are currently 12 states participating in the compact and another 12 that have introduced legislation this year. Participation in the compact is voluntary and preserves the regulatory autonomy and authority of the State Board of Healing Arts in regulating the practice of medicine in Kansas. KMS supports the bill.
The House Health committee also held hearings on HB 2578, the Sports-related Head Injury bill. The measure allows chiropractors to make the call on "return to play" for student athletes after having sustained a sports related head injury. Current law limits the "return to play" authority to physicians. The chiropractors brought a bill with the same language before the committee last year where it passed the committee but failed to advance through the full House of Representatives. John Gallagher, MD (Emergency Medicine–Wichita) testified on behalf of the Kansas Medical Society in opposition to the change, urging the legislature to maintain the requirement that a student athlete is evaluated for return to play by providers with the highest level of training and decision-making. Chiropractors argue that patients are able to utilize them for concussion care and management and all providers utilize the same protocol when treating student athletes. The committee plans to take action on HB 2578 next week. KMS opposes the bill.
On the Senate side, the Public Health and Welfare Committee held a hearing on SB 363, establishing licensure for the practice of acupuncture. As introduced, the bill was rather broad and inconsistent with current statutory definitions and limitations. But the proponents have agreed to adopt KMS-suggested language narrowly defining the practice of acupuncture and clearly stating that the practice does not include the practice of medicine and surgery, obstetrics or the use of lasers. The committee will likely work the bill next week, adopt the changes and advance the bill to the full Senate.
SB 341, allowing the use of "step therapy" for Medicaid Recipients, was also advanced to the full Senate. As amended by the committee, the bill would require new Medicaid patients receiving a first-time diagnosis to be treated with the lowest-cost available treatment. Newer, more effective but higher-cost treatments would not be available to Medicaid recipients unless they failed on the low-cost option and were then allowed to "step" up. The bill does not specify how many times a patient would have to fail before being allowed to utilize a more expensive treatment, nor does it provide any avenue for a physician to override this process if there are other concerns. KMS opposes SB 341.
The next two weeks are certain to be busy as individuals work to advance priority issues ahead of the first deadline. As always, you can follow the work of the statehouse by utilizing our bill tracker or for more information about legislative matters, you are welcome to personally contact KMS Director of Government Affairs, Rachelle Colombo.