(March 17, 2023) – In less than three weeks, the Kansas Legislature is expected to reach its first adjournment. This marks the end of the regular legislative session; at which time, the legislature heads home for a three-week break before they return on April 26 to begin the annual veto session. As expected, the focus of the legislative session has varied and included topics such as taxes, education, voting rights and the state budget. While health care has not necessarily been on the front burner for some legislators, there continue to be meaningful and substantial discussions on several of our priority areas.
One priority area for the Kansas Hospital Association concentrated on developing and retaining a viable health care workforce. The Kansas Legislature has been considering several essential policies championed by KHA. At the top of the list is House Bill 2023, which adds new worker protections for health care professionals. The legislation has successfully passed the Kansas House on a vote of 118 to 4 and now resides in the Senate Judiciary for consideration. Another important piece of legislation making its way through the legislative process is House Bill 2292. This bill creates the Kansas Apprenticeship Act and establishes tax credits and incentive programs for apprenticeships in Kansas. House Bill 2292 passed out of the House earlier this session on a vote of 115 to 7 and is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Commerce. Besides these legislative proposals, several other workforce-related bills have been introduced ranging from staffing agency reform to expanding housing and childcare options in our communities.
The Kansas Legislature also is considering several proposals to increase Medicaid reimbursement and enhance the delivery of health care in Kansas. Before the House and Senate budget committees are proposals to increase Medicaid reimbursement for Kansas physicians, add $5 million to reimburse Kansas hospitals that are holding patients awaiting transfer to state mental health hospitals, and create a $20 million fund to help offset uncompensated care for rural hospitals. In the area of easing administrative burdens, the Kansas Legislature continues to explore policy proposals that touch upon streamlining the prior authorization process, permanently extending telehealth flexibilities, ensuring health care providers are reimbursed for care delivered to individuals in law enforcement custody, and providing flexibility to hospitals and health care providers on a variety of regulations. While many of these proposals are actively supported by KHA, this list does not include the various bills introduced that create burdens and barriers for the health care and hospital industry. KHA continues to advocate against many of these ideas, with the goal to stall any political movement in the legislature.
There continues to be much work that needs to be done before the end of the regular legislative session. It is essential for Kansas hospital leaders and advocates to continue their advocacy efforts with their elected officials to express support for the health care-friendly policy proposals. As always, if you need any assistance in connecting with your local legislators, please don't hesitate to contact us. Thanks again for your continued involvement!