Kansas bill focused on improving telemedicine stalled by abortion fight
TOPEKA ? A political fight over abortion restrictions could prevent passage of a bill in the Kansas Legislature that would improve telemedicine access across the state, particularly in rural areas.
The bill would require insurance companies in Kansas to cover health care services provided through telemedicine if insurance already covers the services during personal visits to a doctor. It has been approved in different forms in the House and Senate, but its future is uncertain because of the disagreement, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported .
The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life has insisted the bill include language forbidding abortion by telemedicine, which already is prohibited by state law. The group also wants lawmakers to include a “non-severability” clause that would legally bind the abortion and telemedicine sections of the bill. The clause would mean if the abortion ban is struck down sometime in the future, the telemedicine portion of the law would also be nullified.
Since 2011, Kansas has required in-person physician delivery of “chemical” abortions.
The House has called for new negotiations with the Senate when the Legislature returns April 26 from a break.
Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, a pharmacist and the Senate’s lead negotiator on health issues, said the severability clause shouldn’t be in the bill. She said thousands of rural Kansans could benefit from increased telemedicine access.
But lawmakers aligned with Kansans for Life said the severability clause should be retained.
“The proper language must be included in the bill with no compromise. We are Kansans For Life, not Kansans For Life Sometimes,” said Rep. Kevin Jones, a Wellsville Republican. “Telemedicine is an important endeavor, but not if it can be used to murder the future leaders of our state.”