May 7, 2012 Legislative Update

May 7, 2012

Your Monday Morning Update:

Last week was a huge week in Topeka. In case you missed it, picture this:

You are sitting in the balcony watching the Senate below, as they debate their Omnibus (budget) bill.  Some Senators stand up and saunter over to get a cup of coffee, some lean back in their chairs as though they are either totally absorbed in the discussion or comatose, while others are searching their computers for something wonderful to read.  One by one, Senators stand and offer amendments to the main bill.  After each amendment, there’s a bit of discussion, a vote and then onward to the next amendment.

Johnson County Senator, Terrie Huntington, stands and says “I have an amendment.”  Your ears perk up.  You know that she is a friend of the DD community. She asks that $2.5 million be added to the Omnibus bill for the DD waiting list as well as $2.5 million for the physically disabled (PD) waiting list.  No questions are asked and no dissenters come forward to speak. The vote is taken and it easily passes as they move on to the next amendment.

A while later, Senator Huntington stands up and says “I have an amendment.” Again, you sit up and take notice. She asks the Senate to adopt a proviso which would delay the implementation of DD into KanCare for one year after its “go live” date.  She asks that it include the waiver, targeted case management, assessments and ICF’s (intermediate care facilities.) She also submits that CDDO’s and providers cannot be required to contract with the insurance companies during this delay.

You hold your breath as she finishes.  One by one Senators Kelsey, Kelly and Schmidt stand up and concur that this is the right thing to do. Senator Huntington “closes” and a voice vote is called for.  You hear many “ayes”.  No one says “no” aloud.  You exhale. It passes without question. You dab your brow.

So, what’s next?

Next week the House will go through the same process with their Omnibus bill.  We have a Representative (and our friend) willing to offer a similar amendment during deliberations on their budget bill.  There will again be a little breath-holding and brow-dabbing!

If the House amendment contains different provisions than the Senate version, when it does pass, it will go along with all other amendments, to a Conference Committee made up of a few members of the Senate and the House, to be negotiated.  This committee will hammer out any differences between their respective bills, add and negotiate any amendments and create a single, “new and improved” Omnibus bill. This new bill will go up for final vote in both chambers, and once passed, will go to the Governor for his signature.  Needless to say, this is not an easy process.

The key thing is that the Legislature cannot go home until they have an Omnibus bill, so itwill happen!  We’re just not sure what it will end up looking like.

Your To Do List:

  1. Send a sincere thanks to Senator Huntington for her willingness to offer these Senate amendments.  She can be contacted at:[email protected]

  1. Let your Representative know that as they work their Omnibus bill next week, you would like their support in the delayed implementation of DD into KanCare.  Make them aware that this will be offered as an amendment. Remember, they will all be up for reelection in November…
We are almost done and you have fought a very hard fight!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed (making it very difficult for me to get my housework done) so stay tuned.

Warm regards,

Lurena Mead

JCDS Community Relations Manager
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