Legislative session was mixed bag of wins and disappointments

Legislative session was mixed bag of wins and disappointments

The 2023 Kansas legislative session included both successes and disappointments on health care issues.

The Legislature increased the penalties for violence against health care workers, who have faced a rise in physical attacks. The same bill also legalized fentanyl test strips to try to reduce overdoses.

For the first time in nearly two decades, the Legislature approved an increase in Medicaid physician reimbursement rates. The reimbursement rate is increasing 3% starting in 2024.

The Legislature also amended the Kansas Medical Student Loan Program and the Medical Residency Bridging Program to allow students to switch between approved postgraduate residency training programs without violating their loan agreement. The bill also adds obstetrics and gynecology to the list of approved specialties eligible for loan forgiveness and authorizes medical scholarships to Kansas residents attending the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Though there were attempts to increase the scope of practice of CRNAs, the efforts failed to advance – thanks in part to the objections of many physicians throughout the state. Unfortunately, several worthwhile issues also didn’t advance, including prior authorization reform and Medicaid expansion.

Several bills targeted transgender care and rights. Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill, which the Legislature failed to override, allowing lawsuits against physicians who performs gender-reassignment services for a child and requiring state regulators to revoke their medical licenses.

COMBATING VIOLENCE: Nurses and providers from Wichita gather with Gov. Laura Kelly on June 8 at Wesley Medical Center in celebration of S.B. 174, which was signed into law in May. The new law criminalizes battery against health care providers.

There were also bills related to abortion. The Legislature overrode Gov. Kelly’s vetoes of bills requiring physicians to care for an infant “born alive” during an abortion and requiring physicians to tell patients that their drug-induced abortion can be reversed. The Legislature failed to override the veto of a bill prohibiting facilities where elective abortions are performed from obtaining liability insurance from the Health Care Stabilization Fund.

There were also various attempts to restrict the authority of public health officers or loosen vaccination policies. Gov. Kelly vetoed a bill to curb the authority of state and local health authorities to control the spread of contagious and infectious diseases.

MSSC and the Kansas Medical Society appreciate the engagement of physicians in monitoring legislation and responding to “calls to action” regarding specific bills. This engagement and the relationships that physicians form with lawmakers are key to influencing the legislative process.

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