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SPOTLIGHT
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Bills bounce around legislative floors

Published on -3/4/2014, 7:38 AM

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Late Thursday, the Kansas House of Representatives passed several bills. The Senate now will consider the House bills, and we will be considering their bills following turnaround Monday and today. If either chamber decides not to concur with the other on their bills, our Speaker of the House and the Senate President will select a conference committee, and they will meet to try and get an agreement for a vote to concur.

Here is some information on house bills that might be of interest.

Prompt pay

HB 2552 deals with prompt payment of claims made to a managed-care organization. This bill will require contracts between the Kansas Medical Assistance Program and any managed-care organization to require the allowed amount on all clean claims to be fully paid or denied within 30 days after receipt. A clean claim is one that does not require additional information to be obtained from the service provider or from a third party. It also will require all other claims to be fully paid or denied within 90 days after receipt. Additionally, this bill will require all contracts to include a late payment provision, requiring all MCO's to pay the provider 12 percent for each month the MCO did not pay the amount or deny the claim within the time limit.

HB 2552 also will insert a provider's rights provision, meaning a provider with a claim that remains unpaid after the time limits has cause to bring action against the MCO for the unpaid claim and interest. This bill will take steps to help eliminate payment delays that can create cash flow problems for small, independent health care providers. I supported this bill.

John Ewy is the House representative in the 117th District, including Ness and Rush counties.

john.ewy@house.ks.gov

ALSO: House Bill 2576 is a bill that deals with unemployment insurance and employer ratings. The bill will reduce the required unemployment insurance contribution rates if certain criteria are met concerning the employer's experience ratings. Additionally, the bill would allow employers coming to Kansas to reap the rewards of lower unemployment insurance contributions based on their earned experience ratings from their transferring state. Finally, the bill will eliminate the limits on voluntary contributions to the Employment Security fund. This means employers will be able to pay more into the trust fund in order to buy down their required unemployment contribution rates. By lowering the required unemployment contributions and allowing employers coming in from out of state to enjoy the benefits of their hard work, this bill will put Kansas in a more competitive position to attract new business and grow existing ones. I supported this bill.

Creating jobs

This bill will make some changes to the Promoting Employment Across Kansas program. The PEAK program allows companies to retain 95 percent of the payroll withholding tax of eligible jobs for an approved amount of time. This creates an incentive for new businesses to come to Kansas and for existing businesses to expand. The first change the bill makes is to expand PEAK benefits to jobs paying "average" wages at or above the county median wage, rather than just jobs paying "median" wages at or above the county median wage. Additionally, companies that entered the PEAK program before Jan. 1, 201e, can apply for an extension of benefits to be approved by the Secretary of Commerce. The bill also expands the limit on the amount of employee income taxes that can be taken from the State General Fund and given directly to employers. This bill essentially expands the range of benefits offered by the PEAK program and creates an even more enticing environment for new business to come to Kansas. I supported this bill.

Older worker awards

The Kansas Department of Commerce and the Older Worker Task Force will continue to accept nominations for the Older Worker Awards through March 31. The Older Worker Awards ceremony will be April 24 in the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

The Older Worker Awards ceremony honors older workers who continue to play crucial roles in the Kansas workforce and economy, as well as their employers. Honorees will include older workers who are employed in both public and private sector jobs, and businesses and companies that regularly employ workers age 55 and older.

Nominations for workers 55 and older and for companies that employ older workers are due March 31. Nomination forms are available at Kansas Commerce.com/OlderWorkers. For more information about the ceremony, contact Susan Weidenbach at (785)296-7842 or email sweidenbach@kansascommerce.com.

Nominations are accepted for three categories:

* Outstanding Older Worker: Bestows appreciation on an older worker who demonstrates outstanding qualities of leadership, dedication and commitment. Nominations are open to the general public. Nominees must be 55 years or older, residents of Kansas and working at least 20 hours a week in paid employment. Previous winners are not eligible.

* Oldest Worker: Celebrates the tenacity and fortitude of the experienced worker and is awarded on the basis of age of those working for pay. Previous winners are not eligible.

* Employer of the Older Worker Award: Bestows appreciation on a business that promotes, recruits, retains and develops experienced workers and provides a positive and friendly work environment with fellow workers.

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