Health Care Bills Signed Into Law
During the 2016 legislative session the Missouri House and Senate worked together to send several important pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk with the goal of improving both access to health care and the quality of care received. This week the governor signed four of the bills approved by the General Assembly into law.
The governor signed HB 2029, sponsored by Rep. Denny Hoskins, to provide Missourians with chronic illnesses with better access to the medications they need. The legislation is designed to prevent redundant “step therapy” so that patients who switch health insurance benefits are not forced to try medications that have already proven to be ineffective before being allowed to use medication that works. With step therapy, a patient will first use the most cost-effective and safest medication and, if it is not effective, will then move to a more costly therapy. Step therapy has been an effective process, but becomes an issue when a patient tries several medications to find one that is effective, but then has to start the process all over again when changing insurance providers. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will require health insurance plans to provide a process to request a step therapy override determination.
Now set to become law, SB 875, sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, will proactively update Missouri’s pharmaceutical laws to provide citizens with better access to effective medications. The goal of the bill is to give Missourians more affordable access to interchangeable biological products, which are similar in nature to the generic versions of traditional medications. The products are used in the treatment of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and various forms of cancer. Missouri law currently allows for the safe substitution of generic medications, but the law does not allow for the substitution of biological drug products. The new law will simply allow for the safe substitution of interchangeable biosimilar medications.
Also set to become law with the governor’s signature is HB 1534, sponsored by Rep. Tom Flanigan, which will extend Missouri’s tax on medical providers that is responsible for billions of dollars in funding for the state’s Medicaid program. The bill will extend the taxes on providers such as hospitals, nursing homes and ambulances for an additional two years. The reauthorization will generate more than $2 billion in funding each year for Missouri’s system of Medicaid.
The governor also signed SB 579, sponsored by Sen. Rob Schaaf, to update the process hospitals use to report healthcare associated infections. The bill will require hospitals to use the federal National Healthcare Safety Network, rather than a separate, state-run system. You may read more about what is happening at your Capitol below. As always, I will work diligently and tirelessly for you as your State Representative.
This week I will continue to summarize bills that were Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed by the General Assembly this legislative session.
School Funding Bill (SBs 586 & 651)
Immediately after the governor vetoed a school funding bill sponsored by Sen. Jay Wasson and Joseph Keaveny, the General Assembly acted to override his veto and put the bill into effect as law. The legislation will reinstitute a cap on the amount the state needs to provide each year to the foundation formula that funds public schools in Missouri. The change to Missouri law, which will take effect at the beginning of the new fiscal year in July, will limit the growth of the funding formula. Specifically, it will put a five percent cap in place to control the rate at which the formula increases. Under current law, the funding formula increases each year, and even as the legislature increases school funding, it continues to falls short of the amount called for by the formula. Supporters say putting the cap back in place will give the legislature a realistic and attainable goal to fully fund the formula in future years, which will have positive results for schools, students, and the state.
A+ School Expansion (SB 638)
The legislature gave final approval to legislation that will expand the state’s A+ Scholarship Program to be available to private school students in Missouri. Currently, the program provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, approved by the General Assembly will make the scholarship program available to students in participating private schools.
Career and Technical Education (SBs 620 & 582)
Another bill that crossed the legislative finish line in 2016 is meant to better prepare young people for success after high school. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine and Brian Munzlinger, requires the state Board of Education to establish minimum graduation requirements for a Career and Technical Education certificate that a student can earn in addition to their high school diploma.
Under the legislation, the State Board of Education and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council will establish minimum requirements for a CTE certificate. Each local school district will determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the needs and interests of students in the district, and the state education department will develop a process for recognition of a school district’s CTE certificate program. Students entering high school in the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.
Civics Education (HB 1646 and SB 638)
Legislation, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Swan and Sen. Jeanie Riddle, to promote American history and civics education in Missouri classrooms is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. The bill will create the Missouri Civics Education Initiative to require students in public, charter, and private high schools to receive a passing grade on a standardized civics test in order to graduate. Exams will consist of the same 100 questions used on the civics portion of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ U.S. Naturalization test that is taken by immigrants looking to gain American citizenship. If signed into law, all students entering ninth grade after July 1, 2017, would be required to receive a passing grade on the civics test. Supporters say ensuring a thorough knowledge of the country’s history and system of government is a key first step in creating an engaged and active citizenry that will vote and take active roles in the political process.
Supporting Students with Dyslexia (SB 638 and SB 635 and HB 2379)
The General Assembly approved legislation, sponsored by Senators Jeanie Riddle and Dan Hegeman and Rep. Kathy Swan , to provide additional resources and assistance to young people with dyslexia. This bill requires each public school to screen students for dyslexia and related disorders at appropriate times. In addition, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop guidelines for the appropriate screening of students and the necessary classroom supports. The requirements and guidelines must be consistent with the findings and recommendations of the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia, which is also created by the bill.
The bill establishes the Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia to make recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia including the development of resource materials, professional development activities, and proposed legislation. Supporters say the bill is necessary because many children with dyslexia are seeing their educational opportunities adversely impacted due to a lack of proper treatment.
CPR Instruction (SB 711)
Under another bill passed by the General Assembly, students will have to receive CPR training in order to graduate. Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Brown, students would not be able to graduate until they receive 30 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction and training in the proper performance of the Heimlich maneuver or other first aid for choking. If signed into law, the requirement would begin for health and physical education classes in the 2017-2018 school year. Supporters of the bill say CPR practice will help to save lives and also said parents will have greater peace of mind knowing their child’s peers are trained to deal with an emergency situation.
School Anti-Bullying Policies (HB 1583)
In order to better protect students from bullying, the Missouri House and Senate approved legislation to strengthen the requirements for anti-bullying policies put in place by Missouri school districts. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sue Allen, will require that schools investigate a report of bullying within two school days, and conclude the investigation within 10 school days. The bill also requires school districts to adopt a procedure for reporting acts of bullying, and a process for discussing the anti-bullying policy with children and training school employees. Additionally, the bill defines cyber-bullying and states that any school district can subject a student to discipline for cyber-bullying.
Youth Suicide Prevention (HB 1583)
House and Senate members approved legislation during the 2016 session that will allow licensed educators to annually complete up to two hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for certification. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sue Allen, requires the state education department to develop guidelines for the training. The legislation also requires that each school district adopt a policy to address strategies that can help identify students who are at possible risk of suicide.
Campus Safety (SB 921)
Legislation that is now on its way to becoming law will improve the way colleges and universities respond to and handle incidents of sexual violence on campus. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jeanie Riddle, is in part a response to a national survey that found 73 percent of institutions of higher learning have no protocols in place to work with law enforcement to respond to incidents of sexual assault. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will require public institutions of higher education in Missouri to put such plans in place. The bill will require schools and law enforcement to create a memorandum of understanding that will contain detailed policies and protocols regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
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