Kansas Mental
Health Coalition

A View of the Legislative Session at First Adjournment

March 22, 2016 1:32 PM | Amy Campbell (Administrator)

The 2016 Kansas Legislative Session is pushing toward First Adjournment March 23 or 24. Osawatomie State Hospital has received two informational hearings and plenty of legislative attention - focusing on CMS disqualifying the hospital from Medicare reimbursement.   Two bills carry Senate amendments that will prevent the State from privatizing state mental health hospitals without specific legislative approval.  A similar proviso was included in the first budget bill - already signed by the Governor.

The Jason Flatts Act for suicide prevention training in schools (SB 323) has passed the Senate and House and is headed for conference committee.  See Testimony below.  This bill was amended by the House to include the provisions of a bill to implement seclusion and restraint policies for schools.

Legislation to impose step therapy for Medicaid prescriptions (SB 341) has strong opposition from various health advocacy organizations, but was passed by the Senate 23 - 16 in February.  The House Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing but took no further action - the bill is considered a vehicle for Medicaid Expansion and House leadership is avoiding such bills.  Advocates expect the bill to be inserted into a conference committee bill because it carries a heavy fiscal note - projecting $10.6 million savings.  

Mental Health Advocacy Day attracted around 300 participants on March 15 and featured a public rally with speeches from Senator Caryn Tyson, Rep. Kathy Wolfe-Moore, and Interim KDADS Secretary Tim Keck.  The weather turned cold and windy, but participants were rewarded with powerful poetry by Sherrie Purpose Hall and Nick Givechi.  Participants were recognized in the Senate by Senator David Haley.  The House Social Services Budget Committee held an informational hearing on the report of the Adult Continuum of Care Committeee that was convened by KDADS last summer.  The hearing was a robust and positive give and take about the shortcomings of the current mental health system and how to improve the continuum.

The Legislature will be on spring break through April until the veto session April 27.

See KMHC testimony below:

2016 Testimony in Support of SB 447 Behavioral Health Tax Checkoff

2016 Testimony for HSSBC Informational Hearing on the Adult Continuum of Care Committee

2016 Testimony in Support of SB 232 Jason Flatt Act for Suicide Prevention Training

2016 Testimony Opposed to SB 341 Medicaid Step Therapy Senate Public Health Committee

2016 Testimony to House Social Services Budget Committee on the Medicaid Mental Health Medication Advisory Committee

(c) Kansas Mental Health Coalition, P.O. Box 4744, Topeka, KS  66604  785-969-1617

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