The legislature reconvened after a three-day weekend, and the first order of business for the House of Representatives was the motion to override the Governor's veto of House Bill 2044, the Medicaid expansion bill. It takes a two-thirds super-majority, or 84 votes, in the House to override a veto. Despite significant leadership and effort from hospitals and support by the broader healthcare community, as well as citizens across the state, the vote fell three short of the required tally, and the Governor's veto was sustained.
Although the issue could conceivably be resurrected for further consideration this session, given the difficult issues still awaiting legislatorsâ€“school finance, taxes and the budget deficitâ€“it is unclear whether there would be the time or appetite to pass another Medicaid expansion bill, which is surely to be vetoed by the Governor again, setting up another difficult veto override vote.
In other health-related actions, last week the legislature advanced a number of bills for further action:
- House Bill 2217 establishing protocols for procurement and administration of opioid antagonists passed the full Senate and now heads to the Governor for his signature.
- House Bill 2027, addressing both the re-enactment of institutional licenses and allowing providers of direct primary care (i.e. concierge medicine/medical retainer agreement) to bill patients for anatomic pathology services so long as the provider and the cost of services is disclosed to the patient, was passed by the Senate and awaits a motion to concur or nonconcur in the House. If the House accepts the Senate amendments, the bill will head to the Governor for final approval; otherwise, the changes must be negotiated in conference.
- House Bill 2026 is aimed to increase standardization, encourage uniform processes and to improve the appeals process for claims adjudication within the KanCare program. The bill is in conference committee and may see further changes.
The legislature is scheduled to meet the remainder of this week to advance those issues which have now been considered by both chambers. With the question of Medicaid expansion perhaps now settled for 2017, school finance, appropriations and tax policy remain major policy objectives to complete before the April break, which starts Friday. Depending on the outcome of those issues, the legislature will reconvene at the end of the month to complete the constitutional duties to balance the budget and fund K-12 education in a manner satisfactory to the Supreme Court.