Capitol Comments Articles
Legislature Ends 2020 Session After a 24-Hour Work Day

Kansas Senate Chamber (May 22, 2020) – The House and Senate convened at 8 a.m. yesterday morning to begin the final day of the 2020 legislative session and concluded at approximately the same time this morning. Recognizing that Medicaid expansion was unlikely to be considered, KHA identified three legislative goals for the last day of the 2020 session:

  • Amend the provider assessment language to allow flexibility in the tax rate to comply with CMS requirements;
  • Passage of language to continue the telemedicine portions of Governor Laura Kelly's executive order 20-08; and
  • Passage of language allowing liability protections for health care providers related to COVID-19.

Extensive work was done with both legislative leadership and other provider organizations in the state prior to yesterday’s legislative activities to meet these goals.

The change to the provider assessment, which allows the assessment rate to go up to 3 percent, rather than requiring it to be 3 percent, was included in the conference committee report for House Bill 2246. Both the health care provider liability and telemedicine language were included in the conference committee report for Senate Substitute for House Bill 2054. The health care provider immunity language provides immunity from civil liability for damages, administrative fines, or penalties for acts, omissions, health care decisions or the rendering of or the failure to render health care services including services that are altered, delayed or withheld, as a direct response to any COVID-19 state of disaster emergency under the Kansas Emergency Management Act.

The telemedicine language extends provisions of the Governor’s EO 20-08 through Jan. 26, 2021, continuing the provisions until the next legislative session even after the Governor’s executive order expires. It also allows hospitals to exceed their number of licensed beds to address COVID-19 without seeking licensure of the new beds or, in the case of a Critical Access Hospital, jeopardizing their CAH status for exceeding the 25-bed limit.

The CCR for 2054 includes a number of other provisions related to the Governor’s powers during an emergency, including a requirement for legislative approval of executive orders closing businesses by the State Finance Council and control of the distribution of federal funds granted to the state for COVID-19 relief from the Governor to the Legislative Coordinating Council. It is possible that Governor Kelly will veto this bill and call a special session to resolve these issues.

On behalf of the team at KHA, we would like to thank you for all of your work this legislative session to help move hospital-friendly legislation forward during the 2020 session.