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Legislative Turnaround; Bill Blessing

from Prepared by: Dodie Wellshear, Ad Astra Government Relations

The official midpoint, also known as "turnaround," of the 2018 regular session was marked on February 22. This represents the point in the session when all bills must pass from the chamber (House or Senate) of origin, in order to advance. The exception is any bill that is introduced or referred to a committee exempted from the turnaround rule. Those exempt committees include Appropriations, Ways and Means, Federal and State Affairs, House Taxation, and Calendar and Printing.

This is also when we hear of some bills being "blessed." That likely conjures up all sort of images for those outside the legislative process. Bill blessings occur when the chamber leaders want certain bills, those not from exempt committees, to stay alive for further action in the session. In order for this to conform to statute, the leaders will briefly re-refer the bills to an exempt committee and, then, generally return them to the original committees.

Status of Key Legislation

SB 38 – KanCare Bridge to a Healthy Future (Medicaid Expansion)
This bill would expand the KanCare program to include adults who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level. Expansion was a part of the Affordable Care Act and, at the time, was mandated as a “trade-off” for Medicare provider reimbursements being cut. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling later removed the mandate and made it permissible for states to offer plans to CMS. SB 38 does have a work referral component. The majority of those who would be impacted by this legislation are working adults, who make too much to qualify for Medicaid and make too little to afford health insurance in the marketplace. KAFP provided committee testimony in support of the bill.
Status: The bill passed the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee and is awaiting action by the full Senate. As it was introduced in an exempt committee (Ways & Means) it is not subject to the turnaround deadline.

SB 300 – Requiring Legislative Approval for KanCare Waivers/Changes
The bill would prohibit the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment (KDHE), the Kansas Dept. on Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) and the Kansas Dept. of Administration from negotiating or entering into any contract for the administration and provision of managed care KanCare services without express prior authorization by the Legislature. All contracts would remain as they were on January 1, 2018. It also prohibits any changes in the waiver submitted to CMS, regarding eligibility or services, without legislative approval.
Status: The bill passed the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which is an exempt committee. It is awaiting action by the full Senate.

SB 316 – KanCare Tobacco Cessation Services
The bill, as introduced, would have provided tobacco cessation medications and counseling services to KanCare beneficiaries, without limiting the number of attempts. The bill was amended in committee to limit the number of medication attempts to four per year, but to allow unlimited counseling services. KAFP provided testimony supporting this bill.
Status: The bill passed the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee, but was not an exempt bill and did not receive action by the full Senate before the turnaround deadline

HB 2674 – Kansas Telemedicine Act
The bill establishing telemedicine definitions, guidelines and insurance coverage parity. The bill complies with many of the principles outlined by KAFP in legislative interim testimony, including “coverage parity,” meanin more


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