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Health Bill Means Several Licensing Changes For Kansas Medical Professionals

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A “mega-bill” containing several provisions related to licensure of medical professionals survived a rules dispute to pass just before the Kansas Legislature adjourned early Monday morning.

Unless Gov. Sam Brownback vetoes the bill, the conference committee report combined in House Bill 2615 will require acupuncturists to be licensed, enter Kansas into a compact that will license physicians to practice across state lines and expand the authority of nurse midwives.

The bill also will create a licensed master’s addictions counselor category within behavioral health statutes and allow physicians and dentists to fulfill continuing education requirements by providing charity care to Kansans who can’t afford it.

Several parts of the bill had persistent champions in the House.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Republican from Wichita who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee, pushed for the charity care provision as a means of providing some access to health care for low-income Kansans in the absence of Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Jim Kelly, a Republican from Independence, advocated for the interstate licensure compact to help a clinic in his district transition to using physicians from a Bartlesville, Okla., hospital after the local hospital closed.

Still, the bill ran into a late roadblock because of an anti-abortion provision added to the midwives section while the bill was in conference committee.

Anti-abortion lobbying groups wanted the language to assure them nothing in the bill would allow midwives to perform abortions or dispense abortion drugs. But neither chamber had vetted the language, so adding it to the conference committee report would violate bill-bundling rules the House approved a year earlier.

Rep. John Rubin, a Republican from Shawnee who spearheaded the rules, objected and the bill was sent back to conference committee.

When the bill came back to the floor, it passed the Senate 40-0 and the House 115-7.

Andy Marso is a reporter for KHI News Service in Topeka, a partner in the Heartland Health Monitor team. You can reach him on Twitter @andymarso

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