By Sunee Mickle,
Director of Government Relations,
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
State of the State Address
The first day of the Kansas Legislature 2010 session began Jan. 12. That evening, Governor Mark Parkinson addressed many issues in his State of the State address; most importantly being the budget for 2010. Parkinson proposed many changes in the hope of fixing a $400 million budget hole. The Governor suggested:
- A sales tax increase of 1 cent for 36 months
- An increase in cigarette and tobacco tax from 79 cents per pack to $1.34
- A statewide clean air initiative that would ban smoking in public places
- Using the increase tax revenue to fund education, public safety, and aid to elderly and disabled (help restore Medicaid funding)
- Passing the Vratil-Kelly constitutional amendment that would require the state to set a portion of its revenue aside to create an emergency fund
Legislative Bills May Affect Premiums
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is a mutual insurance company, owned by our members. One of our strategic focuses is to strive to keep health care premiums affordable for our members. With the opening of the 2010 Kansas Legislative session we would like to keep you informed of mandate legislation that may negatively impact our members' health insurance premiums.
Autism Mandate (SB 12) - The bill mandates guarantee issued individual and group coverage of autism and autism spectrum disorder up to a maximum of $75,000 per year through age 21. Coverage includes applied behavioral analysis (ABA) services. BCBSKS provides coverage for diagnostic testing and medical services (e.g. speech and physical therapy) for autism disorders, but we do not reimburse providers for educational and other non-medical services that are included in this bill.
Cancer Clinical Trials (SB 195) - SB 195 requires insurers to cover oral cancer prescription drugs the same as intravenous prescription drugs and chemotherapy under a major medical policy whether or not the insured has an outpatient pharmacy benefit.
Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Professional Counselors (HB 2088) - This legislation requires all individual and group insurance policies to reimburse licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed clinical professional counselors for mental health services that are within the scope of their license. BCBSKS provides coverage for these providers' mental health services when they take place at community mental health centers throughout our service area.
Telemedicine - HB 2424 and HB 2427 were introduced this week by the Committee on Vision 2020. The bills require insurers to provide coverage for telemedicine and provide reimbursement to those who may provide the service in the health care community. BCBSKS has supported telemedicine efforts since 1995, and we will examine the legislation closely to determine whether the proposed legislation will ensure that our members continue to have access to quality telemedicine services without significantly increasing health care premiums.
Federal Health Care Reform
Like many of you, we continues to monitor the ongoing federal health care bills. BCBSKS believes that:
- Americans should have access to affordable health insurance;
- Consumers should be able to buy health insurance without exclusions and/or higher rates because of pre-existing conditions, and that
- Americans should invest in better health and in a more efficient health care delivery system.
There are too many moving pieces at this point in time to provide a solid understanding of how the proposed federal changes in health care and health insurance will or will not affect you. But we anticipate a final federal bill by the beginning of February, and we will share more about the federal changes to the health care system once the legislation is finalized.
During this legislative session BCBSKS will continue to monitor health insurance legislation that may make health insurance less affordable for our members. Legislators will be looking for input this session from leaders in the local business community; your input and voice on these issues will be important for us and our members.If you have specific questions on these or any other health insurance pieces of legislation, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. To know more about how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas can keep you informed on legislation, see the Grassroots Network section of this site.
Keep updated on important dates by following the 2010 Kansas Legislature deadline calendar:
2010 revised deadlines.doc.
Follow the Kansas Legislature website at: www.kslegislature.org