2017 Legislative session wrap-up

The short session has ended, with 847 bills filed and 158 bills passed through both chambers.

By Ben Keeton

The 2017 legislative session has ended, and the new Republican majority helped push through a number of bills that will impact the healthcare system. Although this session was technically a “short session,” lawmakers filed 847 bills and passed 158 through both chambers. Many of these were key platform issues that the Republican Party used to take control of the House for the first time in 97 years.

Bills that have been debated for years finally landed on the Governor’s desk during this session, including major initiatives like Medical Review Panels (SB 4) and other legal reform efforts, including Judgement Interest Rate (HB 223).

The General Assembly also passed legislation protecting access to smoking cessation treatment options (SB 89), as well as a bill to help terminally ill patients receive innovative treatment options that have not yet made it to market (SB 21). They also enacted a law allowing patients to receive a 90-day fill at their local pharmacy (SB 205).

Several bills were passed to address licensure issues in Kentucky. SB 146 establishes the licensure of genetic counselors under the State Board of Medical Licensure, and HB 304 recognizes a multistate licensure privilege to practice for registered nurses or practical nurses. Legislators also passed HB 239, which requires the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners to establish an annual license renewal fee.

Pending Legislation

As of this printing, several health-related bills are still pending. The most high-profile bill addresses Medical Peer Review (SB 18, opinion piece on page 18), which protects collaboration between medical professionals and ensures that the findings cannot be used against them in court. Another pending bill encourages the use of abuse deterrent technology to protect Kentuckians from opioid abuse.

A few health-related bills did not see the finish line this year, but are likely to come back in the future. Representative Addia Wuchner filed a bill encouraging all incoming college students in Kentucky to update their recommended immunizations before they enroll. Legislators also considered a bill to limit pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from charging a patient more for a prescription than the retail cost of the medication.

Although 2017 was a short session, the Republican Party wasted no time in passing legislation that will impact Kentucky’s healthcare system. While the legislative session may be over for the year, elected officials, advocates and businesses are taking a deep breath before they dig into what will likely be a more intensive session in 2018. We will continue to monitor and report on relevant legislation that impacts the business of healthcare in Kentucky.

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