by Dena Hubbard, MD, FAAP
It’s been an exciting month of session in 2020 Kansas legislature! There is much work still to be done. We are almost half-way through session (February 27th), so most bills must pass out of their chamber of origin by this time in order to stay alive. KAAP has been actively engaged with KDHE, Immunize Kansas Coalition (IKC), KAFP, American Cancer Society (ACS) to join forces on health issues.
Current Legislative Issues
Medicaid expansion SB 252 is being held hostage due to the abortion amendment not passing. KAAP provided written testimony in support of SB 252 as initially written. (We were advised not to provide oral testimony from a strategy perspective.) What was a decent bipartisan bill for Medicaid expansion is being reworked to include work requirements and other less optimal language. This will be discussed Thursday 2/20. Your legislators need to hear from you that you support Medicaid expansion, as does majority of Kansas, and let them know that children of parents who have health care are more likely to have health care coverage and receive the preventative and medical services they need. Work requirements and other hurdles hurt kids and their families.
Immunizations HB 2601 would have changed the authority for adding/subtracting, changing dose scheduling for school immunizations from public health (KDHE) to the legislature and limiting changes to 1 year instead of into perpetuity. KAAP provided written and oral testimony against this bill to the House Education committee. As you know this is a controversial topic for a small but very vocal portion of the population. Evidenced based vaccine recommendations were well represented at the hearing February 13th and we appreciate all of our members who reached out to the legislators. They really appreciated hearing from you!! We are told that this bill is unlikely to make it out of committee, which is a good thing, but we must remain vigilant. We continue to collaborate with KDHE and IKC which are great resources.
Tobacco 21/E. cigarettes HB 2563 bans flavors but excluded menthol and vape shops. KAAP provided written testimony against the bill because of this. Our colleague and friend Representative Dr. Eplee mentioned the possibility of looking at an amendment to include menthol if the bill advances. We are collaborating with ACS Kansas Cancer Action Network among many other healthcare groups. Additionally, we provided written testimony in favor of HB 2450 Clean Indoor Air Act which closes the loophole that allowed e-cigarettes/vaping in public under the original Clean Indoor Air Act.
Mental health parity HB 2459 is a bipartisan supported bill that requires insurance companies to cover patients in mental health crisis. KAAP provided written testimony in support of this, and this was one of our advocacy day topics. It is probably no surprise that the insurance companies are against this bill. Pediatricians must continue to advocate for the brain as a vital “medical” organ like any other organ and it too deserves insurance coverage and benefits just like the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, intestines.
House insurance committee heard HB 2459 above as well as HB 2557. The latter creates a $100 maximum out-of-pocket cost-share per month per covered person for insulin. KAAP provided written testimony in support of this. The committee chairman expressed the need to have more information on what other states are doing and how this is working elsewhere. We will continue to provide resources for them on this issue.
Other bills we supported with testimony thus far include: SB 250 Crown Act which includes protective hairstyles (such as locks, braids, twists, etc.) in anti-discrimination policies and in the definition of race. SB 312 seeks to improve the regulation of childcare facilities by imposing a civil fine for childcare facilities operating without a license.
Be on the lookout for some upcoming action that will likely need your voices.
HB 2602 and SB 364 expand newborn screening services and increases transfers from the medical assistance fee fund to the Kansas newborn screening fund. This is supported by KDHE and Newborn Screening Advisory council. KAAP will be submitting testimony in favor of these bills.
APRN independent practice bill will be coming up again and they have very strong support. There is a roundtable in House Health on 2/19. AAP and KMS along with our family practice colleagues oppose this and when the bill has a hearing, we will provide testimony in opposition. As we know APRNs have minimal training and limited experience with kids and therefore we oppose the independent practice. APRNs are great team members! However, as a profession, we do not feel they are equal in training or expertise. The AMA and AAP recommend that teams be led by physicians. It is important that pediatricians recognize and share these differences with our legislators.
Red flag bill will likely not be heard this year (it is an election year after all). The good news is, neither will the anti-red flag bills! And hopefully not the physician gag order, that would restrict physicians from asking about guns in the home during patient visits. This is a safety issue.
As I mentioned, this is an election year, so your legislators really want your votes. Please contact them by phone or email and ask them to #PutKids1st! They are motivated to listen!
Be the Voice for Children! Be First. Be Right. Be Credible.–AAP