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.
In brief, under the bill, the Health Care Stabilization Fund will continue to exist unless the Court strikes down the noneconomic damages cap in a medical malpractice case. In that event, the Fund would be dissolved. The bill also raises the minimum coverage requirement in the Fund from $300,000 per claim to $1 million per claim. (Read the KMS briefing for more information.)
A hearing for SB 493 is scheduled in the committee for Wednesday. KMS—along with a number of other health care organizations—will be supporting the bill.
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Looking ahead at the remainder of the session, we are operating on the assumption that the Legislature will continue to follow its schedule as planned. However, given the trajectory of public activities being canceled or otherwise alter due to the coronavirus, it is a possibility that the session may end sooner than anticipated. We will be watching for developments and keep you updated accordingly.
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On Thursday, Gov. Laura Kelly issued an emergency declaration for the State of Kansas in response to coronavirus (or COVID-19). The declaration authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties that meet certain criteria.
As of Friday, the number of confirmed coronavirus in Kansas had grown from one the previous week to at least six, including one patient in Wyandotte County who died Wednesday. The man was in his 70s and lived in a long-term care facility. Three of the new cases were in Johnson County and all involve people who attended the same conference in Florida. The sixth confirmed case is in Sedgwick County.
Earlier in the week, KDHE issued updated guidance documents for a variety health care scenarios and settings—including outpatient clinics, inpatient facilities, and transportation of patients with suspected infection—at: www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus
The latest advisory from KDHE reads:
"People should exercise vigilance when attending large public gatherings, particularly those people over age 60 and those with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions.
"If you have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath and believe you may have had contact with someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider. You may also call the KDHE phone bank at 1-866-534-3463 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about COVID-19, visit www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus."KDHE advises physician clinics to ask patients to call ahead if coronavirus infection is suspected, allowing your team to take steps to prevent other patients from being exposed. This and other patient recommendations are available for use as flyers, on your website, and/or social media in this file (PDF).
Find quick links to Kansas coronavirus resources at: www.kmsonline.org/coronavirus.
Find all of the latest updates on coronavirus in Kansas at: www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus.
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