Ann Kelley’s Capitol Connection

August 07, 2023

What’s Going on in the Capitol

More than 60 new laws passed during the 2023 legislative session will take effect at the end of the month, having received Governor Mike Parson’s signature in July. Here is a look at some of the bills becoming law on August 28, 2023.

Targeting Healthcare and Increasing Access for Rural Missouri

The Missouri General Assembly this year passed several provisions aimed at bettering the access for healthcare in Missouri. HB 402 modifies the definition of hospitals; the state now will allow rural emergency hospitals that comply with Medicare conditions to be licensed as hospitals. Furthermore, HB 402 will reduce barriers and allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to practice fully with their education and training. Both of these provisions in HB 402 will go a long way in ensuring that our citizens have access to good, quality healthcare, especially in our rural areas.

HB 402 also establishes the Health Professional Loan Repayment Program, which offers forgivable loans to pay off existing student loans and other education expenses for health care, mental health, and public health professionals.

All of this work removes restrictions and increases opportunities to address the current healthcare provider shortages. A July report from the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform found that 19 of Missouri’s 57 rural hospitals are at risk because of serious financial problems, and to date, 10 rural hospitals have closed in Missouri since 2012.

With this bill becoming law, Missouri is decreasing the burden on our healthcare providers and allowing rural Missouri to get the access they need without traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest city with a major hospital.

911 Dispatchers to Receive Mental Health Resources under New Law

Missouri 911 dispatchers will now be considered “first responders” in state statute under legislation that becomes effective this month. That will bring many changes, including increased access to mental health resources. Language in two bills signed into law by Governor Parson will add emergency telecommunicators to the definition of “first responders,” which previously included people like firefighters, police, and emergency medical personnel. The proposed re-designation has been discussed and debated for years while legislators and state agencies worked to consider what changes it would bring, and how to best implement it. The change in designation will mean, among other things, that dispatchers will have access to the same mental health supports as those in other jobs. The change could also create access to grant dollars that could see local agencies expand the latest forms of 911 access in areas of Missouri that do not have it.

Extending Post-Partum Care Coverage

SB 106 and SBs 45 & 90 will extend post-partum coverage under MO HealthNet or Show-Me Healthy Babies from 60 days to a year. MO HealthNet coverage for low-income women in the program will include full Medicaid benefits for the duration of the pregnancy and for one year following the end of the pregnancy. This coverage addresses the issue of the pregnancy-related deaths in Missouri that can be preventable, such as embolism, hemorrhage, infections, concerns with cardiovascular health, and other chronic health conditions.

Ensuring Access to Life-Saving Exams

SB 106 ensures coverage for diagnostic breast examinations and supplemental exams will not have a copay or deductible in an effort to ensure women have access to these life-saving exams. The new law specifies that any health carrier or health benefit plan that offers or issues health benefit plans that provide coverage for diagnostic breast examinations, coverage for supplemental breast examinations, low-dose mammography screenings, breast magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasounds, or any combination of such coverages cannot impose any deductible, coinsurance, co-payment, or similar out-of-pocket expense with respect to such coverage.

Protecting Missourians from Unauthorized Medical Exams

SB 106, HB 402, and SBs 45 & 90 ensures Missouri patients are not subjected to invasive medical examinations performed while they are unconscious and without prior knowledge or consent. During the previous legislative session, Missouri legislators were told that medical students and residents have been allowed and even directed to perform anal, prostate, or pelvic examinations on unconscious patients as part of their instruction, sometimes without those patients’ consent. These new laws specify that such exams on unconscious patients may only be conducted when that patient or their authorized representative has given consent; the examination is necessary for medical purposes; or when such an exam is necessary to gather evidence of a sexual assault.

Helping People off State Assistance and Empowering Those Living with Disabilities

SB 106 and SBs 45 & 90 authorizes a transitional program meant to help people get off state assistance gradually as their income increases. Supporters say the state’s assistance programs for low-income Missourians trap people in poverty because if they accept a raise that puts them above a program’s limits, they could lose more in state benefits than they gain from a raise.

These new laws also allow individuals with disabilities to finally have the chance to advance in their careers without worry of losing state assistance. These changes to statute authorize the state’s Ticket to Work health insurance program to increase the limit to how much a person can earn before they lose benefits, and would not count up to $50,000 of a spouse’s income toward that limit. The legislation would also direct state agencies to have policies to recruit and keep employees with disabilities and create competitive ways to integrate them into workforces.Taking Care of YOU

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