Kansas Legislative Report, February 19 – 23

With the specter of Turn-Around looming on Thursday, week seven of the 2018 Kansas Legislative Session saw a flurry of floor activity as both chambers worked to get bills out of their chamber of origin and across to the other. Even with that sense of urgency the pace remained relatively slow as the Senate finished late in the afternoon on Thursday and the House going until early in the evening before adjourning until next Wednesday.

Hartman Drops Out

Wichita businessman Wink Hartman withdrew from the race for the Republican nominee for Governor on Wednesday and endorsed Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Hartman stated he was concerned about playing “spoiler” in the race and decided to avoid doing so by leaving the race. He may also have been motivated by recent poll numbers that saw support for his candidacy in single digits.


Last Friday saw the Bob Bethel Junior KanCare Oversight Committee meet to review Home Care Based Services provided by KanCare.

Levitt Partners presented their report on services. They noted claims processing times stayed constant, a decrease in denial rates, and that CAP surveys saw general satisfaction with a small decrease for mental health. Two-thirds of providers were satisfied with the MCOs providing coverage although when the issue became how claims were resolved there was greater dissatisfaction. This report was met with skepticism by the Democrats on the committee with Senator Kelly stating the numbers did not make sense and calling into question the fact that the MCOs are who paid for the reports. Representative Ward argued that the compliance number alone made him think the report was flawed.

This presentation was followed by a number of KanCare providers, organizations, and individuals receiving services. They raised various concerns including a desire to return to targeted case management, issues with wait time and reimbursement, and a lack of mental health assistance.

KDHE was up next with a detailed update on their portion of the issue. They reported improvements and work to continue making additional improvements. They discussed the need to change the culture of the process and not the eligibility, to be more open and inclusive. They spoke excitedly about their partners in NAMI, KAMU, KU Med, and others. KDADS gave an update on the IDD and PD waiting lists and in response to a question explained they would need around $300 million additional funding to clear the
waiting lists. They then gave an update on state hospital staffing, which has improved but still has need, and then a more detailed update on Osawatomie. There the numbers across the board are better although there are still too many agency staff nurses and too much overtime. They are converting to 12-hour shifts they believe will help.

The MCOs then provided their updates where they reported improvement on issues of concern and described their plans to continue improving. They also discussed addressing the mental health issue and working on community relations going forward.

Insurance/Health Care

Both the House and the Senate took action of multiple insurance and health bills. SB
296 (Seat Belts) passed the Senate 25-15. SB 348 (Electronic Documents for health insurers) and SB 351 (PBM regulation) passed the Senate 39 – 0. SB 410 (Captive Insurance Companies) passed the Senate 38 – 0.

In the House, HB 2674 (Telemedicine) and HB 2472 (Anatomical Gifts) passed 117 – 0. HB 2496 (Nursing Compact) passed 116 -1. HB 2457 (Asbestos Litigation Trust Fund) passed 77 -40.

The Senate took no action on SB304 (Step Therapy) so it died in committee.

Seat Belts

SB 296, a bill to allow juries in motor vehicle injury trials to know if the injured party was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, passed out on a vote of 25-15 on Wednesday. The issue had been hotly debated with trial lawyers and insurance companies staking out their positions and Senators working to balance both concerns. The measure moves on to the house for their consideration.


On Wednesday the Senate unanimously passed SB 394, a bill that would, as amended, expand the definition of “lobbying” to include lobbying of the executive and judicial branches. This has been a hot issue this session although, as evidenced by the unanimous support it received, not a particularly contentious one. It moves on now to the House for consideration.

Next Week

The Legislature returns next Wednesday to continue work on the 2018 session. The biggest issue remains K12 School funding with the report requested by the legislature expected sometime in early March. House leadership “blessed” a number of bills that did not clear the House by moving them into exempt committees so work on those will continue along with the few Senate leadership likewise “blessed.” And the bills actually passed by the bodies will begin the process of being heard by the other chamber. The work of the 2018 Kansas Legislature has only just begun.

Significant Dates and Events

February 28th
Return from Turn-Around
March 2nd
Washington Days (Democrat
State Party Convention)
March 23rd
Last Day Non-Exempt
Committee Consideration

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