Senate Health Negotiators Focus on Step Therapy, Welfare Reform Bills


Leadership in the Senate health committee has staked out priorities for whatever remains of the session, but it isn’t clear if the House shares them.


A conference committee made up of members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare and House Health and Human Services committees met Wednesday morning and afternoon to consider some of the 15 bills it was assigned to work.


Two bills received the most time: one that would allow the use of “step therapy” in KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, and another that would make changes to Kansas public assistance programs.


Step therapy would require KanCare patients to start with a cheaper medication before “stepping up” to a more expensive option.


KanCare patients who already are using a more expensive medication wouldn’t be required to fall back to a cheaper one, said Sen. Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican who introduced the bill. Denning wasn’t originally named as a member of the conference committee but joined it Wednesday afternoon, ostensibly to advocate for the step therapy bill.


Sen. Michael O’Donnell, a Wichita Republican and chairman of the Senate health committee, said he was willing to compromise on step therapy but urged House conferees not to insist on major changes to the bill, which passed the Senate but not the House.


“We have a pretty set Senate position,” he said.


The state budget, which already faces a $229 million shortfall in the current fiscal year and the next, includes $10.6 million in anticipated savings from implementing step therapy. That estimate comes from an actuarial study, Denning said.


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Kansas Health Institute       Published on April 27, 2016

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