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2024 General Assembly Wrap Up

KMA thanks members for their advocacy

FRANKFORT The 2024 General Assembly adjourned on Monday, April 15, concluding the 60-day “long” session which began on Tuesday, January 2. Initially slowpaced and marked by limited bill introduction, multiple committee cancellations, and minimal floor action, the session eventually settled into a rhythm punctuated by intermittent starts and stops. Despite a record-breaking 1,218 bills filed, lawmakers opted for a more measured approach than in recent years, passing only 214 bills, including 25 bills enacted over Governor Beshear’s vetoes.

UofL Health’s Dr. Tyler Wilkinson during Physician Day at the Capitol.

KMA Priority Legislation

Building on momentum from last year’s legislative session, KMA’s legislative priority for the 2024 session was prior authorization reform. Following an op-ed by KMA and nine specialty societies urging Kentucky lawmakers to act on prior authorization this session, Rep. Kim Moser introduced House Bill 317, legislation proposing to eliminate prior authorizations for physicians who have historically been approved for a specific medication, procedure, or service 90 percent of the time.

Due to insurance company opposition, KMA entered negotiations with insurers and other stakeholders in an attempt to reach a compromise. Negotiations ultimately reached an impasse, and a deal could not be reached before the end of the session. Senate Bill 270, the KMA-supported prior authorization companion bill introduced by Sen. Jason Howell, also failed to be considered in the Senate.

KMA is extremely disappointed by House Bill 317 and Senate Bill 270’s failure to pass. However, the Association is encouraged by the overwhelming bipartisan support the measure received and remains optimistic that with continued advocacy from our members and the public, as well as collaboration with lawmakers, this critical legislation, which proposes to streamline the prior authorization process and ensure patients have timely access to care will soon be enacted.

Other Healthcare Legislation of Interest

Although the prior authorization bill did not pass, lawmakers acted on a wide range of healthcare measures with which KMA had significant involvement.

Maternal & Child Health: Rep. Kim Moser introduced House Bill 10 to support maternal and infant health and reduce the high mortality rate for mothers in Kentucky. Nicknamed the “Momnibus,” the measure requires most health plans to cover pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care along with in-home treatment for substance use disorder. It also calls on most plans to cover labor and delivery costs and all services and supplies related to breastfeeding. The legislation was ultimately attached to Senate Bill 74, a separate bill on maternal health sponsored by Sen.

Shelley Funke Frommeyer that, among other things, establishes the Kentucky Maternal Mortality Review Committee as a permanent entity under the state Department for Public Health. The amended bill cleared both chambers and was signed by the governor.

Healthcare Workforce Protections: House Bill 194, a measure by Rep. Kim Moser to address workplace violence against healthcare providers, successfully passed both chambers. The legislation expands assault in the third degree to cover harm to healthcare providers in a health clinic, doctor’s office, dental office, long-term care facility, or a hospital or hospital-owned facility. Another workforce measure, House Bill 159, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Flannery, provides immunity for healthcare providers from criminal liability for inadvertent medical mistakes committed while providing healthcare services. However, providers can still be held liable in cases of gross negligence or wanton, willful, malicious, or intentional misconduct.

Cannabis: Introduced as a follow-up to last year’s Senate Bill 47 that allows Kentuckians access to cannabis for specific medical conditions starting in 2025, House Bill 829, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, addresses medicinal cannabis use for K-12 students, allows public and private schools to opt out of the program and requires schools to establish policies if they choose to participate. Additionally, the bill allows local governments to apply fees and opt out of the program, prioritizes hemp businesses, clarifies state inspection powers, and ensures the program starts on time.

Vaping & e-Cigarettes: Another bill sparking a great deal of discussion was House Bill 11, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Raymer, which

Lexington Medical Society members Dr. Hope Cottrill and Christine KO talked with another physician during Physician Day at the Capitol

imposes fines on wholesalers and manufacturers who engage in the distribution of tobacco products that have not been granted authorization by the FDA. The bill also establishes escalating fines on retailers selling authorized products to individuals under 21. Another anti-vaping bill, House Bill 142, introduced by Rep. Mark Hart, bans all tobacco, alternative nicotine, and vapor products in Kentucky public schools. It also requires school districts to adopt disciplinary procedures for students who violate the bans. KMA policy supports a ban on the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems in locations where tobacco use is prohibited and encourages education for the public, especially youth, on the dangers of using electronic nicotine delivery systems.

Kratom: Lawmakers also acted to regulate kratom, an herbal substance frequently sold online and in convenience stores. House Bill 293, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, prohibits sales to people under 21 and provides guidelines for manufacturing and labeling the product. KMA policy supports a complete ban on over-the-counter sales of kratom in Kentucky.

Greater Access to AEDs in Schools: Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, House Bill 169 updates current state law by mandating all Kentucky school buildings, including elementary schools, house a portable automated external defibrillator (AED) in a public, easily accessible spot. This builds upon 2023’s House Bill 331 ensuring AED presence in middle and high school buildings and at school events. Additionally, House Bill 1, the one-time spending and investment bill passed this session, designates $2.5 million to the Department of Education for AEDs in public schools. KMA policy calls for AED education and instruction as part of CPR training and supports the increased availability of AEDs in public spaces throughout the state.

Cancer Detection and Screening: Continuing the state’s efforts in recent years to increase access to cancer detection and screening initiatives, House Bill 52, by Rep. Deanna Frazier Gordon, requires health benefits plans to cover preventive cancer screenings and tests without any cost-sharing requirements. Likewise, House Bill 115, co-sponsored by Reps. Kim Moser and Lisa Wilner, eliminates copays and cost-sharing requirements for high-risk individuals who need follow up diagnostic imaging to rule out breast cancer.