The legislature convenes for the 2018 session on Monday, January 8. This is the second year in the biennium, meaning that bills introduced and not acted upon in the 2017 session are still “alive” for consideration until adjournment. While this sets the table for more issues to be considered, the coming election cycle for the Governor and House of Representatives also mitigates which issues are most likely to be taken up. Additionally, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the Legislature has failed to adequately and equitably fund K-12 education and has allowed until April 30 for legislators to provide a statutory remedy. The confluence of these factors: lingering issues, upcoming elections and an adverse ruling after a large tax increase to fund education and other core functions of government, makes for a tenuous start to the session.
Among the issues still “alive” from the 2017 session is Medicaid Expansion. Though the House effectively voted on the measure three times and the Senate twice, the Governor vetoed the bill but other proposals remain alive in committee for continued consideration this session. Though there is strong support among legislators, the federal movement on the Affordable Care Act coupled with the state’s economic difficulties and a delayed gubernatorial transition has complicated efforts for ultimate passage. As always, KMS will continue to partner with the Kansas Hospital Association and other providers and patient advocates to encourage continued efforts to see more Kansans insured and offered access to high quality care.
Telemedicine has also remained active and is likely to see further consideration. Over the interim, the legislature studied how best to create a statutory framework to promote access without undermining in-person care or creating different standards for regulation. KMS has advocated consistently for ensuring neither a higher or lower standard for telemedicine than in-person care and to require that coverage for such care is not denied solely on the basis of having been delivered via telemedicine. The conversation is continuing with insurers, vendors, physicians and hospitals working towards an appropriate framework for regulating telemedicine in Kansas.