The 2018 legislative session adjourned shortly after 5pm on Friday, May 4 after an attempt to pass comprehensive tax policy failed with only a few hours remaining before the Sine Die midnight deadline would force adjournment. Though they met their constitutional obligation to pass a budget, and their Supreme Court ordered mandate to appropriate additional funds for K-12 education, it is uncertain whether the Court will accept the Legislature’s provision or a special session will be required to further fund schools and revisit tax policy. Because Sine Die was set consecutive to the seven-day Veto Session, without a break allowing the Governor to approve or veto bills and then for the legislature to return for any potential veto override attempts, all legislative action is final and the Governor has unchallenged authority to veto those bills passed in the final days.
Fortunately, the legislature took up HB 2028, The Kansas Telemedicine Act, as soon as they returned to Topeka and continued the work of reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions. At issue was an abortion prohibition and connected “non-severability” clause stipulating that any potential legal ruling that affected the abortion prohibition would be non-severable from all other provisions in the bill. HB 2028 clearly stipulates that no abortion procedure may be delivered via telemedicine, consistent with current law and practice, but anti-abortion advocates felt the non-severability clause was imperative to ensure telemedicine didn’t undermine existing law. House and Senate conferees agreed to re-insert the non-severability clause and the bill passed both bodies with broad support.
Though telemedicine has been utilized in Kansas and across the nation for many years, HB 2028 establishes a statutory framework to regulate and reimburse telemedicine consistent with in-person care. The bill clearly defines the necessary components for a telemedicine platform, requires HIPAA compliance and states that the same standard of care must be upheld for those services delivered via telemedicine. Additionally, coverage can no longer be denied for an otherwise covered service just because it was delivered via telemedicine. This piece of the bill ensures that physicians who have the capability and platform to treat their patients via telemedicine will be reimbursed for doing so, even if they do not contract with a telemedicine vendor. The provisions relating to coverage parity affect physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses and behavioral health providers. By ensuring reimbursement for telemedicine services, current practice is likely to expand, resulting in greater access for more Kansans and enhanced opportunities for providers to serve patients.
There were dozens of other bills offered and advanced that would have allowed non-physicians to practice medicine under varying regulatory constructs, but none secured passage. For more information about the advocacy of the Kansas Medical Society, visit our bill tracker where you can read the proposed legislation, track its progress and see the position established by the KMS Legislative Committee comprised of physicians from across the state.
Though legislators have left town, our advocacy work continues year-round. June 10 marks the filing deadline for all individuals pursuing elected office this cycle. The House of Representatives, Insurance Commissioner, and all four Congressional seats are up for re-election. The Kansas Medical Society’s political action committee, KAMPAC, contributes to legislative races where the bulk of policy affecting the practice of medicine in Kansas is enacted. Our advocacy is directly impacted by our efforts to support candidates and retain legislators that encourage quality access for Kansans delivered by a physician-led team. If you haven’t already, contribute to KAMPAC today by paying your dues here and help ensure that KMS continues to effectively promote positive health policy for Kansas physicians and their patients.