(April 19, 2022) – Late last week, Governor Laura Kelly vetoed the contents of House Substitute for Senate Bill 286. The legislation, which contained protections for health care workers that included the new crime of interference with health care and increased penalties of assault and battery of a health care worker, was coupled earlier this session with provisions related to COVID-19 response efforts. The COVID-19 response provisions of the bill included:
- Flexibilities for additional off-site COVID-19 testing
- The ability for hospitals to temporarily exceed bed capacity licensing regulations
- The use of telehealth to prescribe without having to see patients
- Liability protections for civil litigation claims for hospitals, long-term care, and the business community
While those provisions were only in place until Jan. 20, 2023, Governor Kelly cited concerns about the broader liability language that was altered from "directly tied to" COVID-19 related claims, to "related to" COVID-19 related claims. Since the legislation narrowly passed in the House (64-51) and Senate (24-16), it does not appear it will have the necessary two-thirds majority to override the governor's veto.
While the end result of Senate Bill 286 is very disappointing, the Kansas Hospital Association will continue to explore options to urge our state leaders to take action on resolving the differences during the upcoming veto session on April 25.