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.
In the end, the legislature decided to combine the KMS liability bill with a number of other issues into one omnibus COVID-19 response bill, which passed early Friday morning, just prior to the legislature’s final adjournment of the 2020 Session. The bill included amendments to the Kansas Emergency Management Act with specific limitations on the Governor’s powers during declared state of disaster emergencies. It also had numerous other provisions, including business liability protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic, enhanced infection control requirements for nursing homes, some telehealth provisions, authority for APRNs and PAs to practice without physician supervision for COVID-19-related response purposes, and temporary emergency licensing for a wide array of health care providers. Most of the health care licensing changes expire January 2021.
At this point it is unknown whether Gov. Kelly will sign the legislation into law. Although KMS believes its liability provisions were acceptable to the governor, during floor debate several legislators warned that the omnibus bill contained other provisions that were likely to be objectionable to the Governor. Because the legislature has adjourned, it will not have the opportunity to override a veto by the governor. If the bill is vetoed, any COVID-19-related liability protection likely would have to be revisited by the legislature when it convenes in January.
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