Legislature faces first deadline

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As we approach the first legislative deadline, the work of the legislature as it pertains to healthcare is coming into clearer focus. Unless a bill has been exempted from legislative deadlines by the House Speaker or Senate President, it must have had a hearing and passed the body of origin by the end of this week to remain "alive" for the remainder of the session. Though there have been a number of hearings on a variety of topics, the bulk of the work affecting the health care community has been focused on KanCare administrative simplification and standardization, restoring reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers, Medicaid expansion, immunization reporting and telemedicine.

Senate Bill 69, the KanCare compliance bill, has been the subject of several days of hearings. Providers participating in the KanCare program, including KMS, developed the legislation to require administrative simplification, uniformity of appeals, standardization and prior authorization process reform among the Medicaid MCOs. The administration has called these same groups together to work toward resolving these long-standing issues as the bill advances through the legislative process. The bill will be considered for passage from the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee on Tuesday, February 14.

Senate Bill 94, increasing the MCO privilege tax to restore the Medicaid four percent provider rate cut, was heard in Senate Ways on Means on Monday, February 6. The bill would increase the fee that managed care organizations (MCOs) pay for the "privilege" of doing business in Kansas, in order to draw down more federal dollars. The MCOs are able to recoup their cost, freeing up the additional revenue for broader use in the Medicaid program. KMS joined several provider groups in supporting the legislation.

House Bill 2064 would expand Medicaid through the KanCare program. The bill was introduced by the Kansas Hospital Association and seeks to expand coverage to more than 150,000 Kansans currently too poor to afford private insurance. The bill was heard in House Health and Human Services, with more than 150 proponents providing testimony in support of the legislation, and fewer than five opponents. Though there is widespread support across the state and under the dome, the cost of expanding Medicaid is central to determining whether the bill will advance as the state still faces a deficit of more than $300M for this fiscal year and a growing budget hole for years to come. KMS supports HB 2064 and other efforts to extend coverage to more Kansans in a fiscally responsible way that does not shift the cost of coverage back on providers. The bill is scheduled for committee consideration on Wednesday, February 15.

This week hearings have been scheduled on reforming Step Therapy for private insurers (Senate Bill 82); establishing meningitis as a required vaccination for Kansas adolescents (House Bill 2205), and on two separate bills affecting the practice of telemedicine (House Bill 2254 and House Bill 2206).

You can track the full list of issues KMS has taken a position on by viewing our bill tracker. For more information about legislative matters, please contact KMS Director of Government Affairs, Rachelle Colombo.

 

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