It’s easy to assume Missouri has a do-nothing legislature when it comes to health care.
The Republican-led General Assembly has dithered on Medicaid expansion, and conservatives’ antipathy toward anything else associated with the federal Affordable Care Act is not exactly a closely guarded secret in Jefferson City.
But here’s something that might surprise you: More than a dozen bills signed so far this year by Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, have health care angles. That total includes legislation that Nixon has partially vetoed.
As of Monday, he had taken action on 90 bills. The complete list is on the governor’s website with links to full explanations of each measure.
The measures signed by Nixon cover a wide spectrum of issues, including HB 68, which designates November as “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month” in Missouri.
According to the bill, that form of cancer “is incurable and has a low rate of survival due to the advanced stage of the disease when symptoms typically present themselves.”
Similarly, SB 33 designates Dec. 4 as “PKS Day” in Missouri to raise awareness of Pallister-Killian Syndrome.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PKS is a genetic disorder characterized by extremely weak muscle tone in infancy and early childhood, intellectual disability, distinctive facial features, sparse hair, areas of unusual skin coloring, and other birth defects.
SB 33 also addresses public accommodations for persons with mental disabilities and includes a variety of provisions relating to service dogs.
The measures signed by the governor are so diverse that they defy categorization.
For instance, the following three measures gained the governor’s signature on May 16:
- SB 80 – Requiring the Missouri Board of Nursing Home Administrators to notify licensees of the need for renewal by a process other than the regular mail
- SB 306 – Allowing the Board of Pharmacy to test the drugs possessed by licensees
- SB 376 – Allowing hospital districts to permit higher education institutions to use space for health care education or training
Other new laws span the gamut from, HB 336, a catch-all emergency services measure that establishes criteria for state certification as a “community paramedic,” to SB 234, which requires marital and family therapist licenses to have an advanced degree from an accredited program.
There are also some interesting health care bills waiting in the wings.
Among the interesting provisions in the former is one that, in accordance with language in the Affordable Care Act, extends Medicaid coverage to foster children up to the age of 26.
The latter measure is a mixed bag for health-care proponents.
It includes a popular provision requiring insurers to reimburse telemedicine visits on par with in-person consultations. Not so popular is language that would require state certification of the “navigators” who will help people sign up for coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces established by the health-reform law.
SB 262 also has the interesting twist of having advanced through the General Assembly with its main sponsor being a member of the minority: Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls, a Kansas City Democrat.