From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
The Kansas Legislature adjourned the main portion of the 2022 regular session in the early hours of Saturday morning. Lawmakers will reconvene April 25 for a few days to wrap up any unfinished business and consider any bills vetoed by the Governor.
Among the contentious issues passed by lawmakers this week was the APRN bill, Senate Substitute for House Bill 2279.
The bill is a significantly pared-down version of earlier bills introduced over the past several years by nursing groups. The only change the bill makes to the APRN scope of practice is that it permits APRNs to prescribe drugs without a collaborative practice agreement with a physician. However, APRNs are still able to enter into such practice agreements if they choose to do so, for example, if the clinic, hospital or other medical care facility in which they work requires it. The only other change affecting APRN practice is a new requirement that APRNs must purchase malpractice insurance, although they were not made a part of the Health Care Stabilization Fund, and it is unclear how the Board of Nursing will interpret and enforce this requirement.
Because the bill is so lacking in specifics, the Board of Nursing is likely to encounter challenges regarding implementing regulations, scope of practice questions, and discipline. KMS and numerous medical specialty societies vigorously opposed this legislation and urged legislators to allow the medical and nursing professions to continue to pursue a workable compromise approach. However, this bill which never had a public hearing this session, was simply muscled through the legislative process by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Senate leadership, with no realistic opportunity for clarifying amendments. The bill now goes to Governor Kelly, who is expected to sign it into law.
The House also approved Senate Bill 200, which would amend the Pharmacy Act to allow pharmacists to provide initiation of treatment (“prescribing”) for certain specified conditions — influenza, strep throat, and urinary tract infections — pursuant to a statewide protocol adopted by the collaborative drug therapy management advisory committee, which is made up of physicians and pharmacists. KMS proposed amendments which were adopted regarding the training and qualifications required for pharmacists to implement the protocols; requirements for documentation and maintenance of records; requirements for patient inclusion and exclusion criteria; medical referral criteria; patient assessment tools based on current clinical guidelines; and follow-up monitoring or care plans. The bill is also headed to the governor for her signature.
The so-called Ivermectin bill, Senate Substitute for House Bill 2280, has so far stalled in conference committee, but is still alive for consideration during the veto session. The proposal would explicitly authorize physicians to prescribe Ivermectin and other drugs for off-label use to prevent or treat COVID-19, among other things. As we detailed in a previous update, KMS is opposed to this proposal as it is currently written because it undermines the ability of the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to enforce standard of care safeguards for protecting patients and prohibits pharmacists from exercising their professional judgment in dispensing decisions.
Likewise, Senate Bill 398 has yet to advance but is still alive for consideration during the veto session. The bill proposes to require childcare facilities and schools to grant religious exemptions from vaccination requirements without inquiring into the sincerity of the religious beliefs.
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