June 11, 2017

Legislature finally adjourns

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After 113 days, one day shy of the historically long 2015 session, legislators concluded their business and adjourned the 2017 session. The wrap-up session stretched from May 1 all the way through mid-June as legislators worked to reach agreement on state appropriations, a revenue package to fund the state deficit and a school funding formula to satisfy the Supreme Court ruling requiring equitable statewide funding.

Though there were several efforts early in the session to pass a tax package, effectively setting a cap on spending for K-12 or other initiatives, those efforts proved futile as the Governor vetoed two different proposals that lacked super-majority support in both bodies. Ultimately, a school funding package dedicating nearly $300 million additional dollars to at-risk students was passed and shortly thereafter, a new tax package passed both the House and Senate. The package, Senate Bill 30, reinstitutes taxes on LLCs currently exempted from paying income taxes, adds an additional income tax tier and increases taxes retroactively to January 1 on all income brackets. Income in excess of $60,000 will see a tax rate increase from 4.6 percent to 5.7 percent. SB 30, was swiftly vetoed by the Governor, but both the House and Senate were successful in overriding the Governor's veto, making SB 30 law. With the two more controversial issues resolved, the legislature reconciled appropriations and closed the 2017 session, hoping that the K-12 bill passes Court muster and does not require a Special Session.

Though the legislative session was dominated in its entirity by budget, tax and school funding considerations, there were a number of health-related bills that were able to advance in the first part of the session.

  • House Bill 2079, supported by KMS, KHA and other provider groups, which reverses the 4 percent payment cut to Medicaid providers, passed both the House and Senate and now awaits the Governor's approval. He can sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature
  • House Bill 2278 repeals the requirement on state health care facilities and mental health facilities to either allow licensed individuals to carry firearms or significantly increase security measures. The bill was strongly supported in both the House and Senate, but the Governor has not yet approved the measure.
  • Though House Bill 2044, Medicaid expansion, passed with strong majorities in both the House and Senate, the effort to override the Governor's veto fell three votes short in the House and was not attempted again during the wrap-up session.
  • House Bill 2027, addressing both the re-enactment of institutional licenses and allowing providers of direct primary care (i.e. physicians who practice under medical retainer agreements) to bill patients for anatomic pathology services so long as the provider and the cost of services is disclosed to the patient, passed both bodies and has been signed by the Governor.
  • House Bill 2026, introduced at the request of provider groups (including KMS) is aimed to increase standardization, encourage uniform processes and to improve the appeals process for claims adjudication within the KanCare program. The bill saw major revisions agreed to in the conference committee between the House and Senate. The revisions were requested by KDHE to make the bill more workable upon implementation while still resolving provider concerns with the program. The bill passed both chambers and has been signed by the Governor.

Looking forward to next session, there are a number of policy proposals that the KMS legislative committee will study and craft position statements in advance of the 2018 session. Regardless of the political dynamics shaping the landscape, KMS is always at the statehouse advocating to protect the practice of medicine and ensure it remains in the hands of a physician. If you have an interest in learning more about legislative issues, please contact KMS Director of Government Affairs, Rachelle Colombo.


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