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State Representative Kevin Corlew: 2016 End of Missouri Legislative Session Review

Missouri State Representative Kevin Corlew represents Missouri House district 14. Most of Representative Corlew’s district is in Platte County, but a small portion of it extends into Clay County. This is a combination of his July email newsletters. You’ll find a rundown of bills passed in Jefferson City this year. For more information on our Opinion Section please click here.

Part 1, July 1, 2016

Greetings!  I hope you’re enjoying the summer.  Since the legislative session ended in May, I’ve stayed busy in our district by participating in community events and meetings and by visiting constituents at their homes.  And as a citizen legislator, I’ve also been working in my private-sector job and spending time with my wife and kids.

I want to provide you with an end-of-session legislative summary.  Over the next few weeks, we will take a look at some of the bills passed during the legislative session that just ended. We begin this week by discussing some key healthcare bills.  If you have further questions on these or other pieces of legislation, would you please let me know?

Governor Signs Important Healthcare Bills (HB 2029, SB 875, HB 1534, and SB 579)

During the 2016 legislative session the Missouri House and Senate worked together to send several important pieces of legislation to the governor’s desk to improve both access to healthcare and the quality of care received. Earlier this month, the governor signed four of those bills into law.

The governor signed HB 2029 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 already have 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 can be an effective process.  It becomes problematic, however, when a patient has already tried 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 an override of the step-therapy determination.

Now set to become law, SB 875 will proactively update Missouri’s pharmaceutical laws to provide citizens with better access to effective medications. This legislation will 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, which will extend Missouri’s tax on medical providers that funds 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 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. The legislation also would create in Missouri law a definition of telehealth or telemedicine services, and specify when a doctor can provide services through video conferencing, or by the electronic transfer of a patient’s medical records and other data. The legislation allows for Medicaid reimbursement for such telehealth services.

2016 Session Review (part 2) July 19, 2016

Governor Signs Bill to Revise Use-Of-Force Statute and Other Revisions to Criminal Code (HB 2332)

Last week the governor signed legislation that I sponsored and the General Assembly approved to update the state’s police use-of-force statutes and other criminal code provisions, including elder-abuse reporting and felony and misdemeanor classifications.

The new law brings Missouri’s statutes into compliance with U.S. Supreme Court constitutional case law regarding the use of physical and deadly force by law enforcement officers.

The law previously provided that an officer could use of physical force when making an arrest only when the arrest is lawful or the officer reasonably believes the arrest is lawful. The new law adds a provision stating that the use of force is not justified unless the amount of force used is objectively reasonable in light of the totality of the facts and circumstances confronting the officer.

The legislation allows a law enforcement officer to use deadly force when effecting an arrest or preventing an escape from custody if the officer (1) reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to make the arrest or prevent an escape and (2) reasonably believes the person to be arrested (a) has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury, (b) is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or (c) may otherwise pose a threat of serious physical injury to the officer or others unless he or she is arrested without delay.

The legislation also modifies the elder-abuse statutes to provide better clarification to the reporting procedures and to add emergency medical technicians, firefighters,and first-responders to the list of mandated reporters.

During the 2014 session, the General Assembly passed a large-scale revision of the Missouri Criminal Code.  This year, to reflect those changes and make the code consistent throughout, HB 2332 updates the felony and misdemeanor classifications. The bill also provides cleanup and clarifying language to the criminal provisions involving intoxicated-related boating and traffic offenses, criminal conspiracy, leaving the scene of an accident, and marijuana possession.

Preparing Students for College and the Workplace (SB 638)

Missouri legislators approved legislation this year to help better prepare young people for college and the workplace. Recently signed into law by Governor Nixon, the legislation requires school districts to implement a system for identifying students in their ninth grade year who are at risk of not being ready for college-level work or for entry-level career positions.

The legislation was supported by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which conducted a study that found that only 15 percent of Missouri schools are preparing students for the workplace. As the Chamber has noted, Missouri employers spend millions of dollars each year as they try to develop the skills that new employees need to succeed in the workplace. The problem persists nationwide as well as approximately 25 percent of students entering college have to take remedial coursework. These remedial courses to get kids up to speed academically have an annual cost of more than $1.5 billion.

To help address this problem in Missouri, the legislation approved by the General Assembly will require schools to develop a remediation program by 2018. With this, students will have the opportunity to develop a personal plan of study that includes graduation requirements, career or postsecondary goals, coursework related to career or postsecondary goals, and grade-appropriate and career-related experiences. The goal is to empower kids to develop the skills and knowledge that will allow them to succeed and college and the workplace.

Adoptee Rights Act Signed into Law (HB 1599)

The governor recently signed into law a piece of legislation that will strengthen the rights of adoptees in Missouri. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act is meant to provide an easier process for an adopted individual to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

Under current law, files and records that provide identifying information about an adoptee’s biological parents are closed except by order of the court or by mutual decision of the birth parents and the adoptee.

The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act will allow an adoptee who is at least 18 years of age and born in Missouri to file a written application to the state registrar to obtain the original certificate of birth. The bill also gives the birth parents the right to file statements indicating they do not want to be contacted by the adoptee. If both parents indicate they would prefer not to be contacted, a copy of the original birth certificate will not be released. If just one parent wishes to not be contacted, his or her identifying information will be redacted from the copy of the birth certificate before it is released.

Health Insurance Rate Review Legislation Signed into Law (SB 865)

Another bill signed into law will give Missourians true transparency when it comes to the premiums being charged by health insurance companies. Legislators approved the Missouri Health Insurance Rate Transparency Act for consumers who deserve to know the premium rates being charged by the insurance companies that operate in Missouri.

SB 865 will require health carriers to file premium rates with the director of the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration for any health benefit plans sold in the state. The rates may be used after the director determines the rates to be reasonable, after the health carrier notifies the director of its intent to use rates that the director deems unreasonable, or 60 days after the filing date. Final rates will then be published on the department’s website, which will also allow the public to comment on any proposed rate increases.

Missouri is currently the only state in the nation without a rate review system in place. Proponents of the change say it will lead to better regulation of the health insurance industry, and allow Missouri families to know if the rates they are paying are fair. Without transparency, Missouri’s rates have increased at a rate above the national average, and the state has seen significant disparities in what is paid by consumers in various parts of the state. With rate review in place, proponents hope to reduce health care costs for Missourians.

Improving Campus Safety (SB 921)

Also set to become law is a piece of legislation that will improve the way colleges and universities respond to and handle incidents of sexual violence on campus. The legislation is in part a response to a national survey that found 73 percent of higher-learning institutions have no protocols in place to work with law enforcement to respond to sexual-assault incidents. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will require public institutions of higher education in Missouri to put such plans in place. The new law 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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