New Kansas Emergency Management Act signed into law
This week, Gov. Kelly signed into law the updated Kansas Emergency Management Act (KEMA). The law extends the state of disaster declaration for COVID-19 through May 28, 2021, and gives the governor limited authority to issue executive orders in response to the ongoing pandemic. The new KEMA law revokes the governor’s current executive orders (which were set to expire on March 31), while allowing the governor to re-issue such orders via certain processes. The governor said this week that she intends to re-issue several executive orders, including one requiring face masks in most public places and in outdoor settings where adequate social distance cannot be maintained. She also said that this order would apply to all counties that opted out of the previous face mask order. Legislative leadership responded saying it would oppose such a mask mandate; under the new KEMA law, the legislature has the authority to rescind such executive orders.
Medicaid expansion update
Last week, a bill proposing Medicaid expansion in conjunction with medical marijuana was made public (House Bill 2435). 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. So far, no action has been taken on the bill as the legislature approaches the deadline for nonexempt bills to be considered, March 31.
Medical marijuana proposal
A separate medical marijuana bill (House Bill 2184) was worked this week by the House Federal and State Affairs committee. The “Kansas Medical Marijuana Regulation Act” would permit the growing, harvesting, processing, dispensing, and use of marijuana under specific conditions. Various state agencies would register patients, growers, and dispensaries, and an advisory committee would be established to provide recommendations and establish policies regarding medical marijuana regulation. Several amendments were proposed to the bill, but the committee did not vote on the bill. The committee may resume discussion of the bill next week.
Vaccination status proposal
Also among bills still under consideration this session is one that combines two previous bills related to vaccines. Senate Bill 212 would prohibit the secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) from requiring immunizations to attend a child care facility or school. KMS offered testimony this week in opposition to the bill, noting that vaccinations have significantly decreased rates of vaccine-preventable diseases and are the single most impactful achievement in public health. Further, current law allows the secretary of KDHE to add or remove vaccinations from those required for schools and child care facilities, if medical and scientific recommendations change.
Folded into that bill was a proposal (previously Senate Bill 213) that would prohibit an employer from engaging in adverse employment actions against an employee because of an employee’s decision to either receive or not receive a particular vaccination.
The combined bill was passed out of committee this week and may yet receive further consideration this session.
Kansas to move into Phase 5 of vaccination availability
On Friday, Gov. Kelly announced that the state is moving into Phase 5 of its vaccination distribution plan, starting March 29, meaning the COVID-19 vaccine will now be available to all Kansans ages 16 years or older. The governor directed Kansans to seek available vaccine providers using the state’s “Find My Vaccine” tool.Kansans with pre-existing conditions (adults between the ages of 16-64 years) and those who may be exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace were prioritized as part of Phases 3 and 4, as well as all those eligible in Phases 1 and 2. Those with pre-existing conditions will not be required to bring medical records or other proof of a health condition; instead, they will be asked to self-attest using a form like this. Local public health departments will continue to prioritize those within their own counties.Physician clinics interested in offering vaccines to their patients may find more information here and sign up to receive vaccine doses here.
KDHE implements new vaccine allocation process
KDHE informed partners that it will implement a new vaccine allocation process starting March 29. As described by the agency, the change is intended to help balance inventory levels across the state’s providers by sending additional vaccine to sites successful in using inventory and pulling from those that have excess inventory not explained by an action plan.
KDHE said that providers will be flagged and notified when excess inventory is identified based upon providers’ self-reported data via its Daily Snapshot system. KDHE will notify providers every Monday if excess inventory is identified or data is missing. Notified providers will need to submit an action plan for exhausting excess vaccine inventory in a timely manner. If providers submit an action plan on time, they will automatically receive regular allocations the following week.
KAMMCO webinar: Enhancing Your Virtual Presence and Communication Techniques to Reduce Telemedicine Liability
As telemedicine gains traction in the health care landscape, clinicians must be prepared to operate technology-based systems for conducting routine care and exchanging information. Clinicians understand how effective communication and the establishment of therapeutic relationships can influence clinical outcomes–but what do these interpersonal skills look like when applied to telemedicine? In this presentation, KAMMCO Risk Management and Patient Safety Advisor Connie Christian, MBA, CPHRM, will discuss examples of how clinicians can 1) adapt their in-person communication process to telemedicine, 2) provide clinician congeniality in communications, and 3) project a positive telepresence during patient encounters.
Noon–1 p.m., Wednesday, March 31
KDHE/KDADS webinar: Federal funding available to support telehealth care
KDHE, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), and the Kansas Recovery Office hosted a webinar this week on two federal programs that provide funding to support system resiliency including increasing telehealth capabilities. The recording and more information is available here: https://covid.ks.gov/provider-webinar
No-cost HPV and Flu vaccine training available for CME and CNE
The Immunize Kansas Coalition is offering no-cost training to help improve vaccination among young people: one module for HPV vaccination (approx. 30 min.) and one module for influenza vaccination (approx. 15 min.). The training modules are intended for medical and nursing staff members and teams addressing vaccine hesitancy and providing a strong recommendation for vaccination. There is no cost, and CME and CNE are available.
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