Kentucky Health News
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky General Assembly passed several health-related bills this session, including high-profile measures on heroin and dating violence. It did not pass many others, including one that would have a great influence on the state’s health: a statewide smoking ban, which passed the House for the first time ever, but never got out of an unfavorable committee in the Senate. Here’s a roundup:
SB 192 includes both a needle-exchange program and harsher penalties against traffickers, the main points of contention between the House and Senate, but requires local governments to approve needle exchanges and allows judges to be lenient in sentencing addicts, to help them get treatment. It allocates money for drug-treatment programs, allows increased access to Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose, and allows jailers to provide medically assisted treatment for inmates with opiate addiction.
Beshear has signed these bills into law:
Medical order scope of treatment: SB 77, sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. will create a medical order scope of treatment (MOST) form that specifically directs the type of treatment a patient would like to have, and how much intervention he or she would like to have, during end-of-life care.
Newborn screenings for fatal disease: SB 75, sponsored by Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, will require all newborns to be tested for Krabbe disease, a neurological disorder that destroys the protective coating of nerve and brain cells and is fatal once symptoms occur.
Spina bifida: SB 159, sponsored by Adams, will require medical providers to supply written, up-to-date, accurate information to parents when their unborn child is diagnosed with spina bifida so they can make informed decisions on treatment.
Emergency care for strokes: SB 10, sponsored by Sens. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, and David Givens, R-Greensburg, requires that local emergency services have access to a list of stroke-ready hospitals, comprehensive stroke centers and primary stroke centers in Kentucky. Emergency medical providers will set their own protocols for assessment, treatment and transport of stroke patients.
Alcohol and drug counselors: HB 92, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, creates an enhanced licensing program to recognize three levels of certified alcohol and drug counselors, with different levels of education. The goal is to increase the number of counselors in the state.
These health bills awaited the governor’s signature Monday morning:
Physician assistants: HB 258, sponsored by Rep. Denver Butler, D-Louisville, to allow physicians to supervise up to four physicians at the same time, rather than two.
In-home care: HB 144, sponsored by Burch, to establish a 60-day, hospital-to-home transition program through an approval waiver from the Department for Medicaid Services.
Pharmacist-practitioner collaboration: HB 377, sponsored by Rep. Dean Schamore, D-Hardinsburg, to allow collaboration between pharmacist and practitioners to manage patients’ drug-related health needs.
Tax refund donations: SB 82, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, to put an income tax check-off box on tax forms to allow people the option of donating a portion of their tax refund to support pediatric cancer research, rape crisis centers or the Special Olympics.
Health related bills that were left hanging:
The smoking ban, HB 145, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, never got a hearing in the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee, and neither did the Senate companion bill, SB 189, sponsored by Adams.
Three bills challenged Medicaid managed-care companies. SB 120, sponsored by Alvarado, would have created a process for health-care providers to appeal the companies’ decisions to the state passed the Senate, but not the House. And the following two bills that never got out of the Senate: SB 88, also sponsored by Alvarado, which challenged the $50 “triage fees” MCOs pay for emergency-room visits that they conclude were not emergencies, and would have required them to pay contracted fees instead and SB 31, sponsored by Buford, which would limited the amount of co-payments. Also not getting House action was Alvarado’s SB 6 would have created review panels for lawsuits seeking damages from health-care providers.