In a flurry of activity, the Kansas House debated and gave final approval to nearly 70 bills in this last week before turnaround. Well over half of those were non-controversial bills, and passed unanimously, or nearly-unanimously. A couple of examples:

Telemedicine bill

advances

The House considered HB 2674 on Feb. 22, which would create the Kansas Telemedicine Act, in effort to establish coverage parity between in-person and telemedicine-delivered healthcare.

Under the provisions of the bill, telemedicine must meet the same standard of care as an in-person interaction, and would increase access to healthcare services for patients in both rural and urban areas.

Patients would have increased access to services that aren’t readily available to them in their community, and experience more convenient access, which may reduce long term health care costs associated with treatment, due to a lack of services. In addition, HB 2674 provides coverage parity because the healthcare services provided could not be denied for reimbursement solely on the basis of having been delivered via telemedicine or based on the lack of a physical location.

Physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, and licensed mental health professionals alike would be able to dispense their services via telemedicine to patients in a more convenient manner, thereby improving the health and lifestyle of many who have difficulty accessing immediate healthcare. The bill would also prohibit any authorization of delivery of any abortion procedure via telemedicine, and such language in the bill is nonseverable. HIPAA laws would apply to telemedical services in the standard manner, and patient confidentiality would be protected as usual.

HB 2674 was approved by the Health and Human Services Committee on Feb. 19, and passed the House with a unanimous vote of 117-0.

Swatting

This past week, the House passed HB 2581, also known as the “swatting” bill, which was drafted in response to the rising frequency of false 911 calls. A false call can result in the unnecessary deployment of SWAT and law enforcement, but more tragically, one such call caused a death last year in Wichita.

A California resident disguised his phone number and called authorities in Wichita, claiming he was armed and dangerous, and threatening violence at a Wichita household. SWAT members were deployed under such impressions, and a resident was killed at the scene.

This bill would significantly increase the criminal penalties for individuals who make these false calls. Should such calls result in a fatality, the sentencing level would be a severity level 1, person felony, the harshest penalty on record in Kansas. This bill was passed by the House unanimously and may now be considered by the Senate.

The House will begin to examine those bills sent over by the Senate. The Senate, in turn, will examine those bills we sent to them. That process lasts until late March.

Les Mason is the Kansas House Representative for District 73, which covers much of McPherson County.