The recently concluded legislative session was as notable for what passed – a telemedicine bill supported by KMS – as it for what didn’t come out of a Legislature preoccupied with school finance issues.
The MSSC Legislative Committee, chaired by Dr. Kevin Hoppock and working closely with KMS advocacy efforts, met several times earlier this year to discuss issues and formulate the Medical Society’s official positions on them.
Dr. Hoppock noted that, through education and advocacy, a number of measures that would have affected the practice of medicine did not advance during the 2018 session. These included ones to expand the scope of practice for pharmacists and podiatrists; allow pharmacists to administer psychotropic drugs; expand independent practice for nurse midwives; and allow law enforcement to gain access to K-TRACS.
“Building on our belief that a physician-led team is the best approach for the practice of medicine and for providing excellent care for patients, we effectively made our case on a number of issues in Topeka,” Dr. Hoppock said. “Our efforts to build relationships with legislators and educate them on medical matters really paid off.”
House Bill 2028 was the most significant health-related legislation to come out of the session, and was later signed into law by Gov. Jeff Colyer. Another piece of legislation supporter by the MSSC and KMS was a measure that delayed implementation of KanCare 2.0 without additional oversight by legislators. KanCare has been plagued by problems since the service-privatization initiative began.
The telemedicine bill establishes a statutory framework for the practice and overcame hurdles to finally reach the governor’s desk, having been delayed by some lawmakers seeking to ensure that abortions could never be allowed via telemedicine.
The new law defines the necessary components for a telemedicine platform, mandates HIPAA compliance and requires that the same standard of care must be upheld for services delivered via telemedicine as in person. In addition, if insurance covers an in-person procedure, the same procedure delivered via telemedicine cannot be denied. The requirements for insurance coverage parity affect not only physicians but also physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses and behavioral health providers. With the coverage parity and legal framework, telemedicine practice is expected to expand in the state.
The Board of Healing Arts has been charged with adopting rules and regulations under the telemedicine act, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. The board, after consulting with the Board of Nursing and the Board of Pharmacy, will adopt regulations involving the prescribing of drugs via telemedicine.
With the June 10 filing deadline for candidates, legislators seeking re-election are focusing on their campaigns for primaries this summer and final elections in the fall. Both provide additional opportunities for the MSSC and its members to advocate for and support the practice and business of medicine.
“The input from physicians has mattered and will continue to matter in our state,” Dr. Hoppock said. “Members can voice their views directly to the Legislative Committee and provide support for local and state candidates in another way, through SedgPAC, our political action committee.”
Members interested in donating to SedgPAC, the MSSC’s political action committee, can send donations to the MSSC office or call 683-7558 for details. Donations are divided between SedgPAC and the statewide KaMPAC, with donors becoming members of both committees. Funds raised by SedgPAC support worthy candidates for local and state offices.