2018 Kentucky General Assembly: Legislative Update from the Kentucky Medical Association
Despite the Kentucky General Assembly’s emphasis on politically-charged topics such as the budget and pension reform, it is undeniable that health care will always remain a matter for conversation in Frankfort. The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) is once again prepared to be a leader in that discussion and is advocating for the practice of medicine in 2018.
KMA’s priorities for the 2018 session include tort reform, public health and administrative simplification. The Association’s main objective regarding each of these issues is to reduce barriers to care and improve the practice of medicine in the Commonwealth.
Current KMA Priority Bills
- House Bill 4: Introduced by Rep. Addia Wuchner, House Bill 4 would protect the peer review process to allow physicians and hospitals to assess their work without the possibility of their words being used in a medical malpractice claim.
- Status: Awaiting hearing by House Health and Family Services Committee.
- Senate Bill 20: Introduced by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, this omnibus medical malpractice legislation would require an “affidavit of merit” at the time a claim is filed, would place caps on a plaintiff’s attorney’s fees, establish legal confidentiality for medical peer review discussions and prohibit expressions of sympathy, compassion, benevolence and commiseration from being used against a healthcare provider in medical malpractice claims.
- Status: Referred to Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
- Senate Bill 2: Also introduced by Sen. Alvarado, Senate Bill 2 proposes an amendment to Section 54 of the Kentucky Constitution. The amendment would allow the General Assembly to limit monetary damages for injuries or death to person or property, as well as provide a uniform statute of limitations for any civil action for such injuries or death.
- Status: Hearing expected soon.
Please call your legislators and voice your support for House Bill 4, Senate Bill 20 and Senate Bill 2 by utilizing the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181.
Other KMA Bills of Interest
- Credentialing: House Bill 69, introduced by Rep. Ken Fleming, is legislation that would require the Department of Medicaid Services (DMS) to designate a single credentialing verification organization to verify credentials for DMS and all Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). The measure would also streamline provider enrollment and credentialing procedures as well as the written internal appeals process utilized by MCOs.
- Tobacco-free School Zones: Senate Bill 51, introduced by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, is legislation that would prohibit the use of tobacco products at schools, in school vehicles, and at school-sponsored activities.
- Balance Billing: Senate Bill 79, introduced by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, addresses balance billing, which is the difference between the amount charged by providers for health services and the amount insurers actually reimburse providers. SB 79 would prohibit providers from balance billing patients for unanticipated out-of-network care. To offset providers’ potential loss, the legislation would require insurers to reimburse providers for such care at nothing less than the “usual and customary” rate for the service. The measure also would still allow providers to bill for any cost-sharing requirements owed by the insured. SB 79 was introduced on Friday and awaits committee assignment.
- Tobacco-related Illnesses: Senate Bill 29 is legislation introduced by Sen. Stephen Meredith, seeks to place a $1.00 “healthcare assessment fee” on cigarettes and other tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The monies collected from the healthcare assessment fee would be deposited into two separate funds. From those funds, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services would be reimbursed for costs associated with treating tobacco-related illnesses within the Medicaid population, and counties, who meet certain requirements, would receive financial assistance for local smoking cessation initiatives.
- Unused Controlled Substances: Senate Bill 6, a measure filed by Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, would require pharmacists and prescribers, each time a controlled substance is sold or distributed, to sell or otherwise provide to patients a nontoxic product whose purpose is to permanently capture unused controlled substances so that they can be disposed of properly. SB6 has been assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and awaits a hearing.
- Substance Abuse Disorder Treatment: House Bill 124 would require enhanced licensure and quality standards for substance use disorder treatment and recovery after a state review of current standards used statewide. The enhanced standards would cover residential, outpatient and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services, according to the bill. The legislation was approved Jan. 18 by the House Health and Family Services Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration. HB124 is sponsored by Committee Chair Addia Wuchner and Rep. Kim Moser.
KMA would like to remind members to register for Physicians’ Day at the Capitol, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 7 in Frankfort. The day will begin with a legislative breakfast and briefing at the Capitol Annex building, followed by visits with legislators and lunch and a feedback session at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear their white coats to Physicians’ Day. This small gesture will allow KMA members to stand out, as well as send a powerful message to policymakers by demonstrating strength and unity among the medical community.