From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
Since our last update, several proposals have emerged in the legislature that may implicate the practice of medicine in Kansas.
First, you have likely seen in recent news reports that Gov. Kelly plans to again support a bill to expand Medicaid, but this time by tying the proposal to passing a medical marijuana bill and using tax revenue from marijuana sales to cover the state cost for expanding Medicaid. Although a specific bill(s) has yet to be introduced, for Kansas physicians and other proponents of Medicaid expansion, this approach may prove to be problematic. Clearly it is critical that Kansans have access to care—and therefore KMS has always supported Medicaid expansion—however, we oppose medical marijuana, while it remains unapproved by the FDA.
Second, a bill was introduced this week to remove the requirement for a collaborative practice agreement between an APRN and a physician, where the former seeks to treat patients independently with no statutory limits on their scope of practice. That bill has not yet been printed. Similarly, a bill was introduced to allow independent initiation of treatment by pharmacists, presumably for any health condition approved by the Board of Pharmacy. That bill is also not yet available for viewing. It is possible there may be hearings on one or both of these bills. Our position remains that we do not support the practice of medicine by non-physicians, particularly with no defined scope of practice nor regulation by the Board of Healing Arts.
Lastly, we are monitoring three bills regarding occupational licensure (HB 2066, SB 10, and SB 34). KMS opposes SB 10 and SB 34, which—among other things—would require state licensing and regulatory agencies to justify the need for licensing and other regulatory requirements, and to repeal or modify requirements that represent burdens to entry into a profession or occupation. KMS is neutral on HB 2066, which would provide a military spouse or servicemember's expedited licensure law to all applicants who have established or intend to establish residency in Kansas, provide for the practice of telemedicine by out-of-state physicians, and permit the issuance of temporary licenses in emergencies and the use of electronic credentials.
There are still other issues that we are monitoring but have not seen much (or any) development yet this session. For all of the issues we are following, we will keep you apprised of developments in this newsletter. We are also scheduling new monthly Legislative Updates for KMS members via Zoom to give those interested more in-depth information and a chance to engage with KMS leadership. Please see the following item for more information on how to register.
KMS Legislative Update registration
While much uncertainty remains regarding the trajectory of the 2021 legislative session—including if and when legislators may be available to meet safely with constituents—we have postponed Advocacy Day. In the meantime, we want to keep KMS members apprised of legislative developments that implicate the practice of medicine in Kansas.
To that end, we are hosting monthly Zoom meetings open to all KMS members to provide updates from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo, along with KMS Legislative Committee Chair Kevin Hoppock, MD. The meetings typically will be held from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Details about joining each month's virtual meeting will be sent a day or so ahead of the meeting to the email address you supply.
The first meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 18. To receive meeting details, register at www.kmsonline.org/legislative-updates-registration. Once you have registered, you will remain on the email list to receive subsequent meeting details.
State launches COVID-19 vaccine locator tool
Regeneron reports antibody cocktail effective as passive vaccine
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announced positive interim results from an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail) used as a passive vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 in people at high risk of infection (due to exposure to a COVID-19 patient, for example). The trial is being run jointly with the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Results included passive vaccination with REGEN-COV resulted in 100% prevention of symptomatic infection; and approximately 50% lower overall rates of infection (symptomatic and asymptomatic). The lower number of infections occurring with REGEN-COV therapy were all asymptomatic, with decreased peak virus levels and short duration of viral shedding.
Help available for addressing psychological strain
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered everyone’s lives for nearly a year now, but among the most affected have been physicians and other team members on the front lines of patient care. Fallout from the virus has placed considerable psychological strain on many of you. KMS seeks to support our membership with resources to help if you are struggling with the mental and physical toll from such strain. The KMS Professionals’ Health Program (PHP) staff can be reached 24 hours a day at (785) 231-1304. We are here to help you however we can.
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