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KMS Update: Where key issues stand at the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session

The legislature will return May 26 for the official conclusion of the 2021 session, Sine Die, a traditionally ceremonial day albeit one that could entail some official business, such as votes to override vetoes.Otherwise, bills considered by the legislature this year have either expired or may carry over to next session. Following is a look back at the primary issues we were tracking this year and where things stand ahead of the 2022 session.

Non-physician practice of medicine
As we detailed in our last update, advocates for the independent practice of medicine by APRNs maneuvered late in the session to have their proposal reconsidered by legislators. Such bills had not been passed by either health committee nor debated on the floor of the House or Senate during the prior four months of the legislative session. Although the legislature adjourned last week without taking action on this issue, APRN advocates can be expected to continue their efforts into next session.

It appears likely that an interim committee meeting could be called to discuss with and receive testimony from advocates on the issue. Should such a committee be formed, it would likely be announced by July and convened sometime during the late summer or fall. While an interim committee cannot make binding decisions, it could issue a report or recommendations otherwise for the legislature to consider next session. Should this come to pass, physician representatives for KMS would offer testimony and answer questions from legislators, as we did during a roundtable discussion in 2020. We last met with APRN advocates on the last day of the session and will continue to be open to a proposal that distinguishes between the practice of medicine and nursing and allows for appropriate oversight of independent practice to ensure patient protection.

This session, legislation was also pushed for allowing pharmacists to “independently… initiate therapy” for any health conditions approved by the Kansas Board of Pharmacy. “Initiating therapy” is a benign sounding euphemism for prescribing drugs that “in the professional judgment of the pharmacist, threaten the health or safety of the patient should the prescription not be immediately dispensed.” Like the APRN proposals, no action on the pharmacist proposals was taken this session—however this issue will likely resurface next session. We also continue to discuss this issue with pharmacist advocates.

Medical marijuana
This session the House approved a bill (House Substitute for Senate Bill 158) that would permit the manufacture of marijuana and its use for medical purposes when recommended by a physician after a six-month period to establish the patient-physician relationship. However, leadership in the Senate is firmly opposed to the measure, as is KMS. This issue advanced through the House with an unusual coalition of Republicans and Democrats, and is likely to continue resurfacing in future sessions.

Medicaid expansion
Unlike previous sessions, Medicaid expansion saw little movement this session—with no hearings nor votes. Leadership in both chambers appear poised to oppose expansion moving forward, with some legislators citing a potential forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court case decision perhaps coming this fall.

Occupational licensure
Finally, several bills emerged this session regarding occupational licensure. House Bill 2066 was signed into law, shortening the period of time in which regulatory bodies are required to issue occupational credentials to military servicemembers or military spouses seeking to establish residency in Kansas and provide for expedited credentialing of non-military prospective residents. KMS was neutral on this bill after being part of negotiations to remove the Kansas Board of Healing Arts from the list of such regulatory bodies.

Another bill—Senate Bill 10, which would require state licensing and regulatory agencies to justify the need for licensing and other regulatory requirements—received a hearing this session but saw no further action. However, the bill remains alive for consideration next session. KMS opposes the bill.

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Throughout the session, the voice of Kansas physicians in policymaking was instrumental. Again we thank those of you who took a moment to contact your elected officials and express your views on these important issues, particularly during the late-session push for allowing APRNs to practice medicine. Kansas physicians are respected and trusted, and your reasonable, timely, and factual communications to legislators were critical to our advocacy efforts.

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If you have questions about this update or other matters, please contact KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.