Oral Health Kansas wants to provide up-to-date legislative news
in the most convenient form for you!

That is why we are shifting our approach for advocacy updates throughout the 2020 Kansas Legislative Session. Previously, OHK hosted biweekly advocacy calls on Friday at noon. Starting today, our new approach will be an email legislative update every other Monday throughout the remainder of legislative session. We will still hold advocacy calls on important deadlines in the 2020 Session such as First Adjournment (April 3) and Sine Die.

If you have feedback on how you’d like to receive legislative updates,
please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@oralhealthkansas.org.  
TURNAROUND DAY:
Thursday, February 27 was Turnaround Day for the Kansas Legislature, marking the half way point of Legislative Session. It was also the first major deadline for legislators as they worked to get bills from non-exempt committees out of their originating chamber (House or Senate). Exempt committees include House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, House Appropriations, Senate Ways and Means, House Taxation, and Calendar and Printing. Legislators spent most of the week on their chamber floor debating bills before the Thursday deadline.

Most health-related bills have been held back in both chambers, due to the Senate President's and House Speaker's opposition to Medicaid Expansion.

BUDGET HEARINGS:
Both the House and Senate have begun working through agency budgets for 2021.

The House Social Services Budget Committee heard public testimony on the Kansas Department for Health and Environment (KDHE) budget on February 11th. Oral Health Kansas provided verbal testimony asking for increased dental reimbursement rates, a comprehensive Medicaid dental benefit, state oral health plan funding, and a study on funding for oral health school screenings. The Committee passed a recommended KDHE budget onto the House Appropriations Committee that included a $3 million increase for dental reimbursement rates. The House Appropriations Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 4th at 9AM to discuss the KDHE budget.

The Senate Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health heard public testimony on the KDHE budget on February 20th. Oral Health Kansas provided verbal testimony asking for increased dental reimbursement rates and state oral health plan funding. The Committee has not met to discuss and make recommendations on the KDHE budget at this time.

MEDICAID EXPANSION:
SB 252 is a bipartisan bill negotiated between Governor Laura Kelly and Senator Jim Denning that seemed like the most reliable way to pass Medicaid Expansion this session. The bill has been in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee since the start of session in January, where they have heard public testimony and had much debate on the bill. Unfortunately, confidence in the bill's passage has unraveled due to political tension around a constitutional amendment related to abortion. The Senate committee did take action on SB 252 on February 20th, adding a number of amendments that ultimately led to the the committee voting to not advance the bill out of Committee.

Although SB 252 died following Turnaround Day, we remain optimistic for the passage of Medicaid Expansion legislation through additional avenues this year.

TOBACCO 21/FLAVOR BAN:
HB 2563 as currently written and amended would:
  • Raise the age of purchase of tobacco and vaping products to 21
  • Impose a penalty on youth caught possessing these products of $25 and a mandatory court appearance
  • Maintain the current retailer license fee of $25 (original bill increase to $100)
  • Institute e-cigarette flavor ban with the exception of menthol flavoring
  • Amend Clean Indoor Air Act to ban smoking in state-owned casinos as well as to include electronic cigarettes

Oral Health Kansas provided neutral testimony on the bill asking for menthol to be included in the flavor ban. The bill passed out of Committee with the above amendments but was not passed out of the House chamber by Turnaround Day. This bill originated in House Federal and State Affairs, an exempt committee, so the bill remains alive for further action this session.

KANCARE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:
The Robert G. (Bob) Bethell Joint Committee on Home and Community Based Services and KanCare Oversight met on February 28th to hear public testimony and agency updates on the state's Medicaid program, KanCare. Oral Health Kansas provided verbal testimony with an update on last year's reimbursement rate increase, a request for their support of this year's additional reimbursement rate increase, and information about our request to the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute about a cost benefit analysis on comprehensive dental benefits in KanCare. Read our full testimony here .

LOOKING AHEAD:
Following Turnaround Day, Legislators took a brief break on the 28th and will return to work on March 4th.

Do you have questions about current legislation and/or the legislative process in Kansas? Submit them here ! We will respond in our next legislative update email.