The Kansas Legislature adjourned the regular session in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 8 after the last-minute passage of a resolution allowing them to return for a 7-day Veto Session beginning on April 26. Though scores of bills remain in conference committees and have not secured final passage, both the House and Senate spent the final week of the session working to pass a school finance plan that meets with the Supreme Court’s approval. When they return later this month, they’ll likely have a response from the Court and will need to pass revenue and budget bills as well as reconcile any other important policies before they adjourn on May 4.
House Bill 2028 includes the contents of the Kansas Telemedicine Act, which contains provisions agreed to by the Kansas Medical Society, Kansas Hospital Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, and the telemedicine vendor, Teledoc. The bill establishes that telemedicine is regulated consistent with in-person care and that coverage cannot be denied for services solely based on their delivery via telemedicine. It passed the House of Representatives unanimously, but was amended in the Senate, requiring a conference committee of House and Senate committee members to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill. The conference committee report passed the Senate, but was rejected by the House, sending it back to conference for further negotiations. At issue is language that was inserted by anti-abortion advocates to ensure that no abortion procedure can be performed via telemedicine. Additionally, the advocates want a clause included, a non-severability provision, that ensures that if there is a legal challenge to the bill, the abortion prohibition will not be severable from the rest of the act. The non-severability clause has charged the bill with the politics and sensitivity that surrounds ideological issues such as abortion. Though the underlying bill is non-controversial and widely supported in both the House and Senate, that provision must be agreed to between House and Senate negotiators and a new conference committee report will need to pass both chambers. Though the Kansas Medical Society does not advocate for or against ideological issues, we support the underlying bill.
When legislators return for the Veto Session next week, they’ll have just seven days to pass remaining legislation like HB 2028 and send it to the Governor for his signature. The result of the Court’s decision on the school finance plan will likely determine the tenor and productivity of the week and could signal the need for a special session to further resolve school finance. In any instance, the Kansas Medical Society is present and engaged on any issues affecting the practice of medicine in Kansas.