Legislative session may be a volatile one this year

In KMS News by admin


The start of the Kansas legislative session means the Kansas Medical Society and MSSC are hard a work monitoring bills and actions that could impact the practice of medicine and patient care.

“We expect a busy year,” KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo said. And because 2020 is an election year, the session will likely be more tense and volatile, she said.

The issue that could dominate the session is Medicaid expansion. Last year, the House approved a Medicaid expansion bill but no action was taken in the Senate. This year, there appears to be more openness to consider expansion, which KMS and MSSC support.

Gov. Laura Kelley and Sen. Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, recently announced a bipartisan expansion plan. It would extend health care coverage to Kansas families up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and take effect no later than Jan. 1, 2021.

Another issue that could receive attention is the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling last year striking down the state’s liability cap on non-economic damages. However, KMS is recommending the Legislature not take any immediate action.

KMS’ concern is that it is unclear whether the Hilburn decision, which involved an automobile injury, applies to medical malpractice cases. KMS wants the Kansas Supreme Court to provide more clarity before lawmakers pursue a remedy.

However, KMS is proposing a possible change to the Health Care Stabilization Fund. If the Kansas Supreme Court rules that the lifting of the cap on non-economic damages also applies to medical malpractice, KMS is looking to commence an orderly phase-out of the stabilization fund, to begin one year later, and for physicians to no longer be required to carry malpractice insurance.

Another issue that likely will return is a bill to expand the scope of practice of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, which KMS and MSSC strongly oppose. Another possible issue is the licensing of anesthesiology assistants, which KMS and MSSC support. Such individuals would be licensed through the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and overseen by anesthesiologists.

KMS and MSSC both have physician committees that meet to hear a report on and discuss legislative issues. MSSC member Kevin Hoppock, MD, leads both committees.

The committee meets at the MSSC offices at noon every other Friday during most of the session. The first meeting is Jan. 24. If you are interested in participating, contact Denise Phillips at (316) 683-7558 or e-mail her at denisephillips@med-soc.org.