2020 legislative session underway in Kentucky

By Ben Keeton

The beginning of the year brings new legislative activity in Kentucky and this year will be a busy year in Frankfort. Not only is it a budget year, meaning a longer session and tough negotiations on how Kentucky will spend its money, but a new administration is bringing a different list of priorities. The one thing that is for certain is that this year promises to keep those interested in healthcare policy on their toes.

To get a better understanding of priorities, we asked a health advocacy groups as well as provider associations about their priorities for the upcoming year. Here is a brief overview of issues that individuals are watching.

Co-pay Accumulator Adjustment Programs (House Bill 72) – Under House Bill 72, health insurers will count all payments made by patients directly or on their behalf toward their deductibles and overall out-of-pocket costs, unless a generic option is available.

Medicaid Pharmacy Carve Out (Senate Bill 50) – Legislation will be filed to carve out pharmacy benefits and create a single Medicaid prescription drug formulary.

Insulin Co-pay Cap (Senate Bill 69 and Senate Bill 23) – The rising cost of insulin has become highly problematic for diabetics in Kentucky. Senate Bill 69 places a $100 cap on a 30-day supply of insulin, while Senate Bill 23 gives uninsured Kentuckians access to an emergency supply of insulin.

Surprise Medical Bills (House Bill 179) – In emergency situations, patients may receive care from out-of-network providers. Legislation would protect patients from surprise medical bills and ensure more transparency in the insurance system.

Opioid Alternatives – Legislation would require payers to cover non-opioid pain treatment, like physical therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture— which are successful ways of providing pain relief.

E-Cigarette and Vaping Device Excise Tax (House Bill 32) – As of July 21, 2018, the state excise tax on cigarettes in Kentucky is $1.10 per pack. Chewing tobacco, snuff and other tobacco products are taxed at 15 percent of wholesale price. New legislation seeks to impose a 27.5 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes.

Tobacco 21 (Senate Bill 56) – The legal age for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, will be raised from 18 to 21, in concert with the new federal law.

Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Funding – Tobacco companies outspend Kentucky’s prevention and cessation efforts. If passed, legislation would raise the level of funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs from $2.8 million to $10 million.

Removing Prior Authorization Requirements for Medication Assisted Treatment – Prior authorization policies require patients to get approval from their insurer before they can obtain the treatment or medication prescribed by their healthcare provider. Legislation would remove prior authorization requirements for FDA-approved medication assisted treatment to ensure patients battling substance use disorders receive the treatment they need quickly.

Deceptive advertising – A bill introduced would regulate drug injury advertisements.

If there is a bill or issue that you are following, please let us know and we will add it to our list. You can reach us at ben@medicalnews.md.