2018 Kentucky General Assembly session comes to a close

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 regular session finally wrapped up on April 14, capping off a session in which lawmakers approved the state’s next two-year budget and numerous other measures that will affect people and healthcare organizations throughout the state.

Most new laws – those that come from legislation that don’t contain emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect in mid-July.

Several bills considered could have significant impacts on the healthcare sector. A summary of legislation that was passed and will become law is included below:

Colorectal Cancer Screening (SCR 176) This resolution urged the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Department for Medicaid Services to continue to improve the provision of colorectal cancer screening services to Kentucky Medicaid recipients by achieving an 80 percent colorectal cancer screening rate for Kentucky Medicaid recipients over the age of 50 and holding Medicaid managed care organizations accountable for achieving this goal. The Governor signed it into passage.

Foster Care and Adoption (HB1) This legislation reforms the state’s foster care and adoption system to ensure that a child’s time in foster care is limited and that children are returned to family whenever possible. It expands the definition of blood relative for child placement and ensures that children in foster care are reunited with family or placed in another permanent home in a timely manner.

Pharmacies (SB5) This bill ensures independent pharmacists are reimbursed at a higher rate for filling prescriptions of Medicaid recipients. This measure places the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services in charge of setting the reimbursement rates for a pharmacist. The rate is currently set by pharmacy benefit managers hired by the state’s Medicaid managed-care organizations.

Medical Peer Review (HB 4) This bill relates to the privileging (to authorize) of peer review activities in healthcare and has already been signed by the Governor. It allows medical professionals to confidentially review the work of their peers without the fear that the information will be used against them in litigation. Kentucky was one of two states without these protections.

Prescription Medicines (SB 6) This legislation requires a pharmacist to provide information about the safe disposal of certain prescription medicines, such as opiates and amphetamines.

Prescription Medicines in Hospice (HB 148) This bill shifts ownership of controlled substances from a deceased hospice patient to a hospice program so the hospice program may dispose of the controlled substances. It was enacted over the Governor’s veto.

Seizure Disorders in Schools (HB147) This bill requires schools, including charter schools, to develop a seizure action plan to address the healthcare needs of a student diagnosed with a seizure disorder. Instruction would be required in administering seizure medications, as well as recognition of the signs and symptoms of seizures and how to appropriately respond.

Medication-Assisted Therapy (HB246) This bill establishes a pilot program to analyze the outcomes and effectiveness of a community pharmacy care delivery model for medication-assisted therapy using noncontrolled medications for the treatment of substance abuse. The pilot program would become effective as funds become available to initiate the pilot program, although it appears the funding source could be some KORE funds from SAMHSA.

Clawback (HB463) This bill prohibits an insurer from requiring an insured patient to pay a cost sharing amount greater than the amount the patient would pay for the drug if the drug were purchased independently of the health benefit plan. A pharmacy could not be prohibited from or penalized for discussing information regarding the price of the drug.

Many bills were considered, but action was not taken to make them laws. A few bills related to the healthcare sector that did not pass include:

Medical Marijuana (HB 166) This initiative would have let patients diagnosed with certain medical conditions use marijuana. It was backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers but stalled in committee.

Caps on Damages (SB 2) Proposed amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky allowing the General Assembly to limit the amount of damages and to create uniform statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, thereby addressing excessive litigation by personal injury lawyers that increases malpractice insurance costs for healthcare providers.

Medical Liability Reform (SB 20) An omnibus bill with numerous provisions to improve the medical liability climate in Kentucky. One provision would have ensured claims against medical providers are fair and have merit thereby addressing Kentucky’s overly litigious environment toward the medical field.

Prior Authorization Reform (SB 143) The legislation would have ensured prescribers access to more efficient electronic prior authorization systems (“ePA”) and established a minimum approval duration period to expedite the prior authorization process.

Rare Disease Council (SB7) This bill would establish the Kentucky Rare Disease Advisory Council and make an appropriation therefor. It lists the members to be appointed by the Governor, explains the duties of the Council, requires a report and creates a Rare Disease Trust Fund to be administered by CHFS to finance the operation of the Council and support rare disease research and treatment. The bill was vetoed by the Governor.


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