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Primary election, Advocacy Day & Annual Meeting registration, and COVID-19 updates

A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo:
A little more than half over, this year has already been one for the books. The coronavirus pandemic and all of its health, economic, and other societal impacts have been exhausting and challenging for just about everyone—in particular for those in the health care community and their patients. Add to that the widespread protests, social upheaval, and civil unrest that have grown out of the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. And, just for good measure, throw in a presidential election that is likely to further divide the country along deep political fault lines. It seems like every day there is another crisis to deal with. It’s no wonder so many feel frustrated and exhausted.

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Provider liability protection among provisions of new law

A message from KMS Executive Director Rachelle ColomboKMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
Now that the Kansas Legislature has adjourned the Special Session, election season is in full swing. The incredible stress that has been placed on all aspects of American life in recent weeks and months makes the prospect of political engagement unappealing to many. But the importance of targeted advocacy and meaningful participation in policymaking is evident. KMS is the trusted voice for Kansas physicians—always working with lawmakers on policies affecting the practice of medicine so you can focus on patient care. Effective advocacy does not begin and end according to legislative sessions. Effective advocacy is rooted in relationship and requires investment in mutual understanding and support. Our voice as physician advocates is amplified by our political giving through KAMPAC. These funds are used to support state and federal legislative candidates that safeguard keeping the practice of medicine in physician hands. We support those lawmakers that want to ensure the highest level of care for Kansans. If you haven’t already, please consider becoming a KAMPAC member today so that our advocacy remains strong and effective for Kansas physicians.

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Legislature to reconvene for special session

The 2020 Kansas legislative session was anything but ordinary, even prior to the onset of COVID-19. Early on, two major issues—Medicaid expansion and abortion—consumed much of the political oxygen in the Statehouse, diminishing the number of bills that would be considered in committee and passed on to the House or Senate. All health-related bills were particularly affected as such bills were viewed as potential vehicles to force a floor vote on Medicaid expansion. Following is a brief summary of what happened—or did not happen—this session, centered around bills of interest to Kansas health care providers.

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Liability protection approved as legislature adjourns; bill goes to governor

As we reported last week, KMS continued to urge lawmakers to address liability protections for health care providers during the COVID-19 emergency period. KMS developed and presented to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees a narrowly constructed immunity proposal that limits health care provider liability related to COVID-19 treatment, and for professional services otherwise medically necessary that were delayed or not provided due to the declared state of emergency. KMS also worked closely with the governor’s office to ensure that the administration’s questions and concerns about the proposal were addressed.

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Legislature adjourns for spring break amid uncertainty

This week, the Senate canceled all committee meetings scheduled for after Tuesday. Therefore, the Public Health and Welfare Committee did not hold the hearing that had been scheduled for SB 493, the bill in response to the Hilburn ruling. In light of the fast-moving developments this week regarding COVID-19, the Legislature was focused on passing a budget (its sole state constitutional duty each session), which it accomplished on Thursday.

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Hilburn response bill, coronavirus updates

This week in the Public Health and Welfare Committee, a bill to respond to the Hilburn ruling was re-introduced (SB 493). The first bill introduced to that end was not approved in time to meet legislative deadlines.

Like the first proposal, we believe this bill represents the best response to the state Supreme Court's recent decision that struck down Kansas’ cap on non-economic damages in a motor vehicle personal injury case. Because there is uncertainty about whether the ruling also applies to medical malpractice actions, KMS is advocating for needed updates to the Health Care Stabilization Fund coverage requirements while we await further clarification from the Court.

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Short legislative week, coronavirus updates

After a short break, the Legislature resumed work on Wednesday this week. However, there was little action on bills under consideration, with the exception of a handful of committees. As has been the case for several weeks now, the impasse over Medicaid expansion and the constitutional amendment on abortion has left little room for movement on other issues.

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Expansion bill, coronavirus updates

This week, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee held its last meeting before “turnaround day,” the deadline by which health bills must be approved if they are to pass over to the other chamber. The committee adjourned without further considering the Medicaid expansion bill (SB 252), again signaling that an expansion bill appears unlikely to be approved until issues related to the constitutional amendment on abortion are resolved.

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Expansion bill development, APRN discussion

This week, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee made several changes to the Medicaid expansion bill, adjourning without further action. The amendments made to the bill include a work and education provision, a conscientious objection provision, and prerequisites that must be met before expansion could be implemented in our state.

More importantly though, the committee’s action makes clear that the expansion bill would likely continue to be delayed until issues related to the constitutional amendment on abortion are resolved. Proponents of the constitutional amendment argue that, if it is not passed, the state’s portion of expansion funding could be used on abortions.

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Expansion bill delay, APRN roundtable

This week, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee was expected to discuss—and potentially amend—the Medicaid expansion bill, SB 252. Instead, the committee will be seeking additional information pertaining to the expansion bill before moving forward with consideration of amendments.

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Expansion, Hilburn, and Coronavirus updates

This week, the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee met for the first of three scheduled days to discuss the Medicaid expansion bill, SB 252. As a starting point, Committee Chair Sen. Gene Suellentrop (R-Wichita) invited Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to brief members on the status of ongoing legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides for Medicaid expansion.

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Expansion talks continue, Hilburn response bill

This week the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee continued the hearing on SB 252, Medicaid expansion, with opponents testifying on both Wednesday and Thursday. With the hearing concluded, the process of discussing the bill and debating potential amendments among committee members begins. If the bill is favorably passed out of committee, the full Senate will debate it and proposed amendments before potentially passing it to the House, where the process would repeat and continue.

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KMS Legislative Update — Week 2

This week, KMS was among about 20 organizations to give oral testimony at the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee in support of Medicaid expansion. Among the others testifying were KDHE secretary Lee Norman, MD, Tom Bell, President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association, and Lynn Fisher, MD, on behalf of the Kansas Academy of Family Physicians.

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Legislative update — Week 1

The 2020 legislative session began this week, highlighted by Gov. Laura Kelly’s State of the State address. In her 37-minute speech, the governor clearly indicated that her top priority this session is Medicaid expansion. She also signaled that she would continue to oppose tax reform proposals prioritized by Republicans. That sets up at least two points of contention between the governor and the Republican-controlled legislature.

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Preview of the 2020 legislative session

capitol domeOn January 13, members of the Kansas Legislature will return to the Statehouse. KMS has spent the last several months preparing for the 2020 session and—as has been true for the last 40 years—we will be at the Capitol every day advocating for you and your patients. This promises to be a busy, complex session and several important health care discussions will be at the forefront.

Key to understanding which issues emerge and advance is the impact of the looming elections this summer and fall. In 2020, the entire legislature must stand for election—40 senators and 125 representatives. Nationally, Kansans will also cast ballots for the U.S. President, Vice President, one U.S. Senator and four U.S. Representatives.

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